Mike Pereira criticizes Jon Gruden for questioning “illegal hit” penalties
By Keith Null
Former NFL Vice President of Mike Pereira knows the rules of the game better than anyone else. He often provides commentary through his twitter account in real time as games are being played, breaking down why ref’s call specific penalties.
He is now an analyst for Fox Sports, and is about as well respected for his knowledge as anyone connected to the NFL.
Apparently though Pereira has little respect for former NFL head coach turned ESPN analyst Jon Gruden.
Pereira had some very choice words for Gruden in his weekly article on foxsports.com.
More specifically Gruden’s criticism of the referee’s who called the Falcons – Saints game this past Monday.
"I’m talking to ESPN announcer and former coach Jon Gruden, because I need to set the record straight.I am not a fan of Gruden’s. Not today, not yesterday, not when I worked for the NFL and not when I was working on the field as a side judge. He was a loudmouth as a coach who constantly disrespected officials and he is a blowhard in the broadcast booth who spouts off when he doesn’t know what he is talking about.I respect his knowledge about the X’s and O’s when it comes to coaching and playing the game of football, but I have very little respect for him when it comes to officiating and his knowledge of the rules.Monday night during the Falcons–Saints game, in the second quarter alone, Gruden butchered two plays regarding hits on defenseless receivers. To me, the second you agree to step into the broadcast booth, you agree to learn the rules. It goes with the job. You, as an announcer, have an obligation to know the rules. You are free to pontificate as to whether or not you like a rule, but you must present the rule first.We’ll get to the two specific plays, but first I want to go over what the rulebook says about hits on defenseless receivers.Rule 12, Article 9, (a), (2), defines a defenseless receiver as “a receiver attempting to catch a pass; or who has completed a catch and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a runner. If the receiver/runner is capable of avoiding or warding off the impending contact of an opponent, he is no longer a defenseless player.”Rule 12, Article 9, (b), goes on to say that prohibited contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture is: (1) “Forcibly hitting the defenseless player’s head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, forearm, or shoulder, regardless of whether the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the defenseless player by encircling or grasping him; and lowering the head and making forcible contact with the top/crown or forehead/hairline parts of the helmet against any part of the defenseless player’s body.”In layman’s terms, a receiver is defenseless in the process of making the catch and beyond until he has clearly become a runner, which by rule, means he has control with two feet clearly down and he has maintained control long enough “to perform an act common to the game,” which is to say he maintains control long enough to pitch it, pass it, advance with it or ward off an opponent."
During the second quarter Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton was flagged for an illegal hit on Saints wide receiver Marques Colston.
On the play Colston jumped up to catch a high thrown ball and Lofton met him in the air while leading with his helmet.
Colston of course was still considered a “defenseless” receiver at the time as he had not landed on both feet or demonstrated a football related move.
The replay was clear that it was a bad hit, but Gruden didn’t like the call. As he saw it Lofton was just trying to make a play, not take out Colston.
Later in the game Gruden question why Saints free safety Malcolm Jenkins was not flagged for an illegal hit after he blasted Falcon tight end Reggie Kelly.
On the play Kelly was slightly over thrown by quarterback Matt Ryan, so naturally Kelly jumped up to attempt the catch.
Jenkins though wasn’t far behind and met him with a clean hit in his lower back area — no helmet was involved.
Or course Jenkins was not flagged as it clearly was a legal hit, but once again Gruden didn’t see the difference between Lofton’s earlier hit and Jenkins hit on Kelly.
Now having watched the game in real time I can tell you that’s Gruden’s comments seemed out of place. I specifically remember thinking”huh?” when he question why Jenkins was not flagged.
Pereira is right in this case, the two hits were completely different, but none the less Gruden isn’t perfect and should be entitled to his opinion.