The Philadelphia Eagles are struggling to understand how they’re supposed to defend their Super Bowl title.
A recent presentation on rule changes NFL referees gave the Philadelphia Eagles confused and irritated some players, according to ESPN’s Tim McManus. NFL players no longer can use their helmets to initiate contact with opponents, and referees can call 15-yard penalties against, or eject, players who do so. The new rule applies to offensive and defensive players alike.
The above changes were the most controversial issue during the hour-long presentation and subsequent question-and-answer session.
“We were trying to ask questions to get a better understanding, and yet they couldn’t really give us an answer,” Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham said, per McManus. “They couldn’t give us what we were looking for.”
Some players can’t imagine how they’ll adapt their styles to the new helmet rule. Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins cited his hit on Brandin Cooks during Super Bowl LII, after which the former New England Patriots wide receiver exited the game, as a play he has no choice but to continue to make.
“I’m going to make that play 10 times out of 10. If it’s a flag, it’s a flag,” Jenkins said Sunday after practice. “You can’t slow yourself down thinking about rules in a split second. The game happens really, really fast, faster than the rules, I think, take account for, but I won’t let it affect the way I play.”
The referees insisted they’re merely enforcing the directives of the league office.
“(The refs) were kind of like, ‘Hey, we didn’t make the rules,'” running back Wendell Smallwood said.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson accepts the new rules and his responsibility for re-training his players to follow them.
“It’s been well communicated to us, and it’s our job to communicate to our players these rules,” Pederson said.”
The 2018 season might mark a changing of the game in Philadelphia and beyond.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports