The Philadelphia Eagles’ unique approach to the QB sneak helped Jalen Hurts convert on 36 of 40 sneak attempts last season. It even made multiple appearances in Super Bowl LVII. Even though a late holding penalty allowed the Kansas City Chiefs to run the clock for the win, Hurts posted six of his 10 rushing first downs with the play.
While pushing a ball carrier to help move him forward has been legal in the NFL since 2005, the NFL’s former top referee thinks the Eagles’ impact could warrant reconsideration from the league.
“I think the league is going to look at this, and I’d be shocked if they don’t make a change,’’ Dean Blandino said via The 33rd Team. Blandino was the NFL’s vice-president of officiating from 2013-17 and now works as a rules analyst for Fox Sports.
The nearly infallible play starts with two running backs behind Hurts in a quasi-victory formation. Hurts pushes forward with the snap of the ball and the flanking teammates lend a hand.
You can watch it in action here:
The QB sneak is not a new play, but the “Tush Push” has made the Eagles so aggressive on fourth down that it’s ruffled some feathers this season.
On his podcast “Not Just Football with Cam Heyward,” the Steelers defensive tackle spoke to co-host Hayden Walsh and guest Mina Kimes, about the play. “It’s illegal, they’re never set. If you watch, the O-lineman are never set,” Heyward said.
“It should be changed,” he added. “They are never given time, they hurry up to the ball and no one is ever set. They are rolling forward, I have this on tape, we can watch it. I’m always pissed off in these fourth downs because it’s always so skewed to the offense. I’m just confused why they switched the rule. It used to be a penalty to push your guy forward. Nobody really noticed until the Eagles were like, ‘oh this is unstoppable.'”
On the “The Richard Sherman Podcast,” the former NFL star claimed that the play is too dangerous for defensive players and should be illegal. “The game is too skewed right now,” he said before claiming that every team will follow the Eagles’ example. “That’s a lot of weight on a couple human beings,” Sherman added regarding the heap of players that top the opposing defense in the play.”You’re not protecting those guys down there.”
Former linebacker Arthur Moats argued on his podcast, “The Arthur Moats Experience,” that the play also puts Jalen Hurts and subsequent quarterbacks at risk for injury.
“You keep doing that QB sneak, your guys are going down low, your quarterback is sitting right up here, up top. Headshotted. It’s bad, it’s dirty, it’s not a good thing but you want a person to stop running that play that’s what you do. Because you hit Jalen Hurts one time legitimately in the face as the ball carrier, because that’s what he is, you go down there and put that Riddell [helmet brand] on him like he’s a real running back and I can assure you they would not be calling that QB sneak as frequently.”
These are things the NFL could potentially consider if it does, in fact, opt to investigate the fairness of the play.