The NFL’s defensive players want protection, too.
After a weekend of confusion and anger over how the league is enforcing its new tackling rule, Buffalo Bills players called out Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry on Sunday for what they thought was a dirty hit on rookie cornerback Taron Johnson in Friday’s preseason game.
The play in question was a classic “crack block:” Landry came from the outside and leveled Johnson (No. 24 on Buffalo), who didn’t see the hit coming. Landry wasn’t penalized for the block, which resulted in a Carlos Hyde touchdown.
Just as defensive players get penalized for lowering the boom on defenseless wide receivers, Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander thought Landry should have been punished for his take-out block.
“Landry, he’s a good receiver, physical guy, but some of those plays that he has — Aaron Williams, Taron, I’m pretty sure he has other ones — I just think they’re dirty,” Alexander said, via ESPN.com. “Coming from the outside of the box in, the league needs to do a better job of calling penalties on those types of plays. Obviously, defenders get called all the time on stuff that is probably less egregious than that. If we’re going to protect our football players, we need to protect everybody, not just offensive guys.”
We’ve seen this movie before: Landry, then with the Miami Dolphins, took out Bills safety Aaron Williams with a very similar hit in 2016. Williams suffered a serious neck injury and hasn’t played an NFL game since — and he clearly disproved of Landry’s latest actions.
Landry apologized to Johnson after his hit Friday, per ESPN. But Buffalo safety Micah Hyde was similarly angry with the Browns wideout.
“That’s ridiculous,” Hyde said, via ESPN. “Because if a defensive player does that to an offensive player, he’s getting ejected. I don’t care if he lowered his shoulder or not. He’s coming all the way from No. 1, past the numbers and flying down onto the hashes and cleaning up somebody.
” … To me, that’s B.S. You can’t do that. All you have to do is get into position, screen him off. He doesn’t have to come in and try to kill anybody.”
Johnson blamed himself for not being “aggressive” enough on the play. But we’re sure we’ll be hearing more of this debate as the season goes on.
Thumbnail photo via Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports Images