NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino confirmed Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs’ hit to the knees of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford should not have been called a penalty.
Appearing on NFL Network on Monday morning, Blandino said, “It’s not a foul.”
Bradford was making his debut with the Eagles on Saturday night after being acquired in an offseason trade with the St. Louis Rams and playing in his first game action since tearing the ACL in his left knee for the second time in 11 months on Aug. 23, 2014.
Suggs was penalized for coming in low and hitting Bradford on a play in which Bradford handed off to running back Darren Sproles.
Blandino said the roughing the passer penalty that was given to Suggs was not the right call and quarterbacks are not protected in that situation.
“If the quarterback has an option, he’s considered a runner until he either clearly doesn’t have the football or he re-establishes himself as a passer,” Blandino said. “So it’s not a foul by rule. It’s something that we’ll make sure that we cover with our game officials because the defensive end coming off the edge, he doesn’t know if the quarterback is going to keep it, he doesn’t know if he’s going to take off and run or drop back and so we treat the quarterback in that instance as a runner until he clearly re-establishes as a passer or until he clearly doesn’t have the football.”
However, Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly said later Monday that Bradford was not running a zone-read play when he was hit by Suggs in the Eagles’ 40-17 preseason win over the Ravens.
“It was just a handoff,” Kelly said. “Not every shotgun run is a zone-read play. We didn’t run any zone-reads. We don’t run as much zone-read as everyone thinks we do. I thought the interpretation on the field was correct.
“(Blandino) said it was a read-option play, but it wasn’t a read-option play. I know our quarterbacks can get hit on a read-option play, but not every run we have is a read-option run. We run sweep, power, counter, trap — all of those things out of the gun.
“Everyone in the league runs shotgun runs. Are they going to hit every quarterback in the league when they hand off in the shotgun? That’s up to the league. I think it would be troubling for the league if every quarterback in the shotgun can be hit.”
Eagles left tackle Jason Peters said after the game that Suggs’ hit was intentional and dirty.
“He was trying to take a cheap shot at the quarterback,” Peters said. “I’m pretty sure he planned it. I mean, we’ve practiced against them all week, so he was probably thinking about it. I really don’t know him personally. He talks a lot and I think he’s that type of player — who is dirty and will take shots on the quarterback.”
Suggs defended the hit on Bradford and said it was a legal play.
“When you run the read option you got to know the rules,” Suggs said Saturday after the game. “If you want to run the read option with your starting quarterback that’s had two knee surgeries, that’s on you. That’s not my responsibility to update you on the rule.
“I could have hit him harder than that. I eased up. I asked (referee) Jerome (Boger) did he know the rules in preseason. He was like, ‘Yeah, I know.’ Just making sure. He said he’s going to look at it. It’s the read option, I got quarterback. It ain’t my job to be reading. He’s reading me.”
On the play, Bradford lined up in shotgun formation, took the snap from center Jason Kelce, turned to his left and handed the ball off to Sproles.
“I think there’s probably just some gray area as far as what a zone-read is,” Bradford said Monday. “Just because you’re running a play out of the shotgun doesn’t mean it’s a zone-read. We have a lot of plays in our offense where there are absolutely no reads for us. It’s an automatic give.”