Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady may have jokingly feuded as golf rivals during the offseason, but the two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks can both agree that some of the NFL’s rule changes in recent years are hurting the sport.
After Brady recently criticized the NFL for penalizing “defensive players for offensive mistakes” and drew some criticism of his own, Rodgers echoed the same sentiment during his weekly appearance on The Pat McAfee Show and added he believes there is “no accountability” for quarterbacks who make dangerous throws to the middle of the field that put their receivers at risk.
Rodgers also pushed back on anyone who thinks Brady was just complaining
“He’s not b*******,” Rodgers told McAfee on September 7. “He’s actually talking about how the product is less than it was and I would have to agree with that. If you’re allowed to just throw some s***** passes down the middle because you’re guy’s not gonna get rocked and you’re not going to put your guy in the stretcher, I think that dumbs down the product a little bit. I do think it is hard to play defense.”
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Rodgers Fears Getting Teammates Hurt
Normally, it would be rare to hear even one premier quarterback put the NFL on blast for instituting penalties that favor the offense. Rodgers, however, doesn’t seem to think the so-called advantage for offenses is all it is cracked up to be.
Yes, in theory, the Green Bay Packers would stand to benefit if Rodgers threw the ball to one of his receivers in the middle of the field and drew a flag for a defender blowing up his teammate. A 15-yard defensive penalty can completely reinvigorate a substandard drive and, at the very least, buys the offense another set of downs to go for goal. Don’t expect Rodgers to do anything that puts his teammates in peril, though.
In fact, Rodgers said getting a teammate injured as a result of one of his poor decisions has been his “greatest fear” for much of his career. Here’s how he explained it:
I don’t know if I’m even there yet, I really don’t. I think as a quarterback, and I bet Tom would probably agree with this statement, but my greatest fear forever was laying one of your teammates out. Like, the last thing you want to do is lead a guy into a big hit that caused him to get concussed or, God forbid, not being able to get off the field on his own power. That’s your greatest fear because that guy is trusting you with his healthy really. As much as I’m trusting Takatari (a nickname for David Bakhtiari) and my linemen to protect me, those guys are trusting me to protect them with the throw, and that’s why the West Coast offense has always been predicated on proper number and location for the football, and that’s the way I learned and it was to allow for yards after the catch and to throw the ball away from contact for your stud players. So that was the greatest fear of mine.
Brady: Rule Changes are a ‘Disservice to the Sport’
The comments in question from Brady came earlier in September when he and several of his Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammates were interviewed in a roundtable-type setting for a video that was shared on the team’s website. While reflecting on how things have changed in football since his NFL career began in 2001, Brady brought up and let loose on the newer-era rule changes that actually favor his side of the ball.
As an example, Brady referenced his career matchups against former Baltimore Ravens linebacker and two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Ray Lewis and how, in those games, he avoided throwing the ball to the middle of the field because he knew Lewis “would hit them and knock them out of the game.”
“Now, every hard hit is a penalty on the defense,” Brady said. “So I feel like they penalize defensive players for offensive mistakes.”
Here’s what Brady said when he elaborated further:
So, like, if the quarterback— I was watching the Chicago Bear game — if the quarterback messes up and doesn’t see the blitzer or the line screws up, the defensive player hits him hard and they throw a flag on the defense. So they’ve almost moved the protection of your opponent to you as opposed to where it should be, which is on yourself. Like, if you’re a quarterback, you have to protect yourself and your players. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of your opponent to protect you. It creates really bad habits for players because you feel like I can basically do anything. I can run and not slide, I can throw to my receiver in any coverage and not have any repercussions for it. The only thing they’re gonna do is they’re actually going to blame the defensive player for making a good, solid hit and now the defensive player is gonna feel like, ‘Oh, I can’t do that even though I feel like it was an offensive mistake.’ So in the end, I feel like it’s really a disservice to the sport because the sport isn’t being played at a high level like I believe it once was.