Bob Sutton doesn’t know what to do.
For some Chiefs fans, that’s a statement about the Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator that’s true every single day.
But in this case, Sutton is referring specifically to the new rule that was enforced on Chiefs linebacker Tanoh Kpassagnon on Saturday during the Chiefs 27-20 preseason loss to the Chicago Bears.
You know. This one.
This beautiful sack by #Chiefs OLB Tanoh Kpassagnon cost his team 15 yards now and will probably later cost him $20,000 pic.twitter.com/OZyhPQoDAl— Kevin Boilard (@247KevinBoilard) August 25, 2018
Speaking to the media on Monday, Sutton said he’s just not sure what to tell his players if that’s the way the new rule regarding a defensive player putting all of his weight on the quarterback is going to be called.
“The one they called on TK — and I wouldn’t want to officiate this; I’m just being honest, this is a hard play to officiate — it’s very difficult to tell TK to do something different in that situation,” he said. “This isn’t like the one where you pick the quarterback up and slam him into the ground. You had a choice on that. You could just take him to the ground, or pick him up and slam him. So they said, ‘OK, don’t slam him. That’s a penalty.’ This one is really hard. I don’t know exactly how to tell him to take his weight off the guy from the position he was coming in that situation.”
Whether you like Sutton or not, it’s hard to disagree with his point of view here.
Is this going to be the new standard? A sack that just about anyone would previously have called a textbook defensive play now results in 15 yards and a first down for the offense?
Sutton reminded reporters that during training camp, he was more worried about this new rule than he was about the new helmet rule that has had so much press attention so far.
“I’m not really sure how it’s going to play out. When we had the officials in, I asked, ‘Did anybody think about trying to tackle Ben Roethlisberger?’ It’s hard enough to get him down with all of your weight. But to say, ‘I’m going to slide off to the side and not do it,’ is really hard. I just think it’s a hard rule. I think it’s hard on the officials. I really do. I think we all know what the intent is. We’re not looking to slam this guy in the dirt, but there are some times that I just don’t know what you can do from a physical standpoint to change that — without just stopping completely.”
Even if you think — as some Chiefs fans do — that Sutton is a doddering old fool who should be shown the door, you’ll probably be right here with him on this one. It’s one thing to have a new rule that promotes player safety. But it’s quite another to have one whose application is going to be almost impossible to predict, and it will almost certainly drastically change the way pass rushers can play the game.