During last week's game against the Las Vegas Raiders and following Chris Jones’ penalty, ESPN’s Troy Aikman made an interesting comment regarding the NFL competition committee addressing what qualifies as roughing the passer.
In an interview with the late broadcaster Howard Cosell in 1984, Pittsburgh middle linebacker Jack Lambert was asked a question regarding his thought about whether there should be any rule changes for the safety of the quarterback. Lambert’s argument was the same as Aikman’s. In a game against the Cleveland Browns the week before, Lambert was called for a late hit on quarterback Brian Sipe.
The game has changed so much and in so many ways since those old days of hitting quarterbacks. I am not at all advocating that we should think about going back. My wife and I were at the game against the Chargers a few weeks ago, and the instant I saw Justin Herbert go down, I immediately turned to my wife and said, “Please no. Please do not let him be hurt.”
I do not want that to happen to any quarterback in the league. Now, more than ever, this is a quarterback-driven league with mega-deal contracts that are going to continue to rise in the future. No team wants to see their franchise player hurt because of a malicious or downright illegal hit.
Having said all of that, it is my belief that one of the ways to slow down the Buffalo Bills this Sunday is to not allow Josh Allen to rush the ball freely and untouched. During last year's regular-season game against the Bills, I was screaming at my television for someone, anyone to go up and hit him and make a tackle. Stop allowing him to run through the defense freely. The NFL has all of these protections for the quarterbacks, but once a quarterback decides to tuck the ball and run, he — by rule — becomes a runner. The protections afforded to him as a passer no longer apply. The lone exception is if he goes into a slide. Other than that, he is a simple runner.
We have seen in the past that Allen does not like to be hit, and he seems to take offense when someone decides to bring the wood on him, whether it be in a game or even during practice. The quarterback gets flustered when he is hit.
I would love to see the Chiefs find a way to put a spy on him, and when he takes off, make a good solid tackle. Nothing dirty or illegal, but a good solid smackdown every time he chooses to run the ball. Josh Allen is a big dude at 6 feet 5 inches and 237 pounds. When he runs, he runs with power. If the Chiefs bring someone up and hit him hard every time he takes off, it might make him think twice about running or, at least, it may cause him to lose his composure a little bit.
But this is for certain: You cannot simply let him run around and pick up all the yardage on the ground he wants and win this game.
During the Saturday Draft Fest at GEHA Field at Arrowhead this past April 30th, the newest Chiefs were introduced to a crowd of fans. In talking with Leo Chenal, Chiefs broadcaster Mitch Holthus asked Chenal what he brought to the table for the Kingdom. Chenal did not hesitate with his answer.
“Violence and physicality, man,” he said. “That’s it. I am addicted to hitting people. I love it. I can’t get enough.”
Everyone in that stadium erupted into applause. We all understood what he meant. Chenal’s approach to the game represents an old-school mentality that is rare in today’s game. But I love that he is wired that way.
The Chiefs are going to need that kind of play on Sunday.
If they can find a way to always keep an eye on Allen and be ready to bring that violence and physicality that Chenal talked about when he runs, it might just be enough to slow him down and knock him off his game and allow the Chiefs to walk away from this Sunday’s showdown with another victory.
This game could easily decide who will have the lone first-round bye in the AFC come playoff time.