Packers wide receiver James Jones broke that trend Wednesday when said during an interview with NFL Total Access that if he were commissioner, he would do away with the rule that prohibits head-to-head hits on receivers.
“I think the helmet-to-helmet rule, where defenders have to hit at a certain target, I think they need to eliminate that,” Jones said. “I’d rather get hit in the helmet and shoulder than have a defender take my knees out.”
Jones told the NFL Network panel — which included former Pro Bowl safety Darren Sharper — that receivers used to be wary of running routes across the middle, but that the penalties and fines doled out for hits to the head now allow wideouts to run slants and crossing routes with “no fear.” In fact, both Jones and Sharper argued that the NFL should direct more of a focus toward hits below the waist, both at the line and downfield.
They have a point — the league has taken great steps to limit headhunting and targeting receivers but has done little to advance to punishment for chop blocks and other illegal hits — but it is unusual to hear the point argued by an offensive player, especially a receiver. Outside of quarterbacks, wideouts have benefited the most from the NFL’s crackdown policy as defenders must now be much more selective with their hits on skill players.
But Jones thinks that the intimidation factor a hard-hitting safety possesses is an important part of football, and a game that removes that fear of a monster hit is unfair.
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