This comic has been in my unused draft ideas folder for…probably 4 years. When I pulled it up, it was labeled #303. I’ve had this comic in the back of my mind for ages. Somehow I just never finished it. Another more timely idea always popped up. I’m glad I never used it, because it feels more relevant now than it ever was before. We have a serious roughing the passer problem. The flags will not stop. They keep getting worse.

It’s almost funny. In the preseason we were all extremely worried about the new lowering the helmet rule. Now that the season has started that rule has not been an issue at all. Instead we have come to a heated conflict over something most of us have been annoyed by for years. Roughing the passer has always been a questionable penalty. When I conceived this comic it was because I was getting sick of seeing flags thrown for hits that the defender clearly had zero chance of pulling up on. These guys are taught to rush as fast as possible to the QB and if the QB manages to get the pass off just a bit earlier all that momentum is supposed to just…stop? Do NFL rulemakers understand physics? Do refs?

It’s such an impossible situation. If you get there at the exact right time before the throw, your hit can generate a strip sack, one of the biggest game breaking plays out there. Yet if you are a fraction too late you might actually cause your team to get penalized 15 yards. It’s so stupid. I understand the need to protect the QB since the QB is kind of defenseless but there has to be some sort of understanding. Roughing used to be reserved for more obvious crap, like after the speed of the play has died down a bit because the ball is gone and the guy still decides to go for it. Like a second’s worth of time usually. It was a rare call.

As of 2018 it has officially devolved into anything that looks slightly rough on the QB. Clay Matthews had a clean sack of Alex Smith this weekend. It might have been the cleanest, most textbook sack I’ve seen all year. It was perfect. It wasn’t even a hit after Alex threw the ball. It was a sack. He never even threw the ball. He didn’t lower his helmet, he led with his shoulder, he hit him on the pads…there was nothing illegal about it even in today’s narrow viewpoints. He still got flagged. Mike McCarthy rightfully completely lost his shit. Anyone watching that game who wasn’t a Skins fans was losing their shit. If a fucking textbook sack is a penalty what the hell are defenders supposed to do?

It feels like there is a good chance this becomes a “fail mary” type of play that gets change moving because people are rightfully pissed off about this. One day later JPP got a roughing call for slightly slapping Big Ben on the head. Ben, a guy who constantly shrugs off hits like he’s made of concrete, felt the slap and then did a soccer-worthy flop. He got the call. If that doesn’t set a tremendously dangerous precedent then I don’t know what could. If you have QBs who know they could take a dive and get a cheap 15 yard call, why wouldn’t they do it? Kickers learned it. Now QBs can do it too. It’s disgusting.

Of course, there is also zero consistency to the call from play to play, game to game. It’s all up to the ref to decide now. Which just shows how garbage it is.

Like the excessive celebration penalties, it feels like the NFL just made things worse and worse and is now facing an absolute outrage because they kept trying to fix it the wrong way. Hopefully this nonsense gets enough people mad that refs start to pull back a little bit. Safety is important but it needs to be regulated in a way that makes sense. Fix it, buttholes.

DAVE COMPUTER UPDATE: WE’RE BACK ONLINE BITCHES! There will be a comic tomorrow and Friday since my schedule was all warped by the timing. Dunno if they will be checkdowns yet. One should be full at least. Many thanks to Spilly, who graciously lent me his old video card. He also trolled me by shipping it wrapped in a Broncos flag. So if you ever wanted to see me hold a Broncos flag…here ya go.