NFL officials came down with a ruling Wednesday afternoon that Houston Texans ILB Tim Dobbins would be fined $30K for his hit on Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler during the Texans’ 13-6 victory this past Sunday night. As most know, the hit led to a Cutler concussion, ruling him out for the second half of the game and could lead him to miss at least this Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers. Below is a video of the hit, first in real time then in slow motion.
Hopefully, everybody will make his or her own decisions after watching that video. However, there are a few takeaways that need to be pointed out. The first is that Cutler crossed the line of scrimmage, at which point he is fair game. Cutler was flagged for an illegal forward pass, which in the moment Dobbins couldn’t have possibly known. Dobbins did what any defender would do in that situation, it appeared the quarterback was taking off downfield, so he led with his shoulder and delivered a hard hit.
This is where there is a problem with the fine. It’s understandable that a defensive player gets fined for hits on the quarterback when he is in the pocket and could be rendered “defenseless”. But Cutler was taking off downfield and crossed the line of scrimmage, so by definition at that point he should have been fair game like any other running back or wide receiver. Looking at the video, it appears Dobbins led with his shoulder, which smacked Cutler square in the chest in what hopefully most would still call a form tackle. What Dobbins didn’t do was lead with his head or make any intentionally vicious moves. He simply squared Cutler up and delivered a blow to an eligible runner downfield.
The NFL makes no point in hiding the fact they are out to 100% protect their quarterbacks. However, to fine Dobbins for that hit at all, let alone $30K, is preposterous. Dobbins will be filling an appeal, which has the possibility to reducing or eliminating his fine, but that’s unlikely. Hopefully Cutler is okay, concussions are no joke and should be taken very seriously. That still doesn’t mean that Dobbins deserves a fine simply because Cutler is concussed. Let’s hope the NFL takes a closer look at the tape and its rules when dealing with Dobbins’ appeal.
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