Falcons’ Dan Quinn: Players, officials face ‘learning curve’ when it comes to roughing-the-passer penalty

The NFL says the officials got it right in making the highly controversial roughing-the-passer call last Sunday on Clay Matthews, even though the Green Bay Packers’ linebacker maintains they got it wrong.

In fact, the league is using a video clip of the penalty — which wiped out a possible game-sealing interception in what turned out to be a 29-29 tie with the Minnesota Vikings — as a tool to teach players what they can’t do when it comes to making a sack: lifting a quarterback and driving him to the ground, as Matthews did with the Vikings’ Kirk Cousins. Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks drew a similar penalty earlier in the game.

‘There’s definitely some eye-rolling that goes on’

What’s the reaction when a play like the one for which Matthews was penalized shows up on the screen?

“There’s definitely some eye-rolling that goes on, other than (from) the quarterbacks, obviously,” Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn told Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan on Movin’ The Chains. “There’s definitely things that say, ‘These are the rules of engagement and we’re going to try and train it as best we can.’ We also recognize there’s times when the call isn’t quite right. Quite honestly, this is new calls, new territory for the officials as well. So for years and years, they’re throwing it one way and now they’re adding some new ones into it.

‘We’ll find that common ground that we do’

“So I think there’ll probably be a learning curve a little bit on both sides, talking about players and officials. We’ll find that common ground that we do. We don’t always agree with every call, but we know there’s nothing you can do about that play. It’s like a dropped pass or one of those that you go onto the next one and you go get ready to battle.”

Quinn thinks the sharing of video, whether it’s the NFL distributing it to teams or coaches sending plays to the league when there’s a question about whether  can only be helpful.

‘I think it’s challenging for a rusher to go full-speed, and how does he put his head to the side and land to the side?’

“If we’re all seeing it in the same way and training everybody in the same way, that part will continue to get better,” the coach said. “We did a heck of a lot better in terms of the use of the helmet foul of lowering the helmet. We had one and I supported the call. I thought we played it poorly, but the ones relating to the quarterback, that’s an issue that we need to keep working on, we certainly well.

“I think it’s challenging for a rusher to go full-speed, and how does he put his head to the side and land to the side? And when do you hit and lift, where sometimes those are fantastic form tackles that we’ve known all of our life, but those are the guidelines we have and we’re going to keep working at it. But we’re not there yet. We’ve still got work to do.”

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