Jay Gruden, Redskins players critical of Clay Matthews penalty

Josh Luckenbaugh
September 24, 2018 - 8:16 am

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Redskins players sympathized with an opponent after Sunday's win over the Packers, speaking critically of the roughing the passer penalty called on Clay Matthews for a third quarter sack of Alex Smith.

Fans, including those of the Redskins, immediately jumped on social media to dispute the call. Smith said after the game he didn't have any problems with how Matthews brought him down. 

"It's tough. I'm glad I don't play defense," Smith told reporters. "You talk about a strike zone a lot of times with the quarterback, these guys — it's kind of knees to the shoulders, right? — they can't hit us in the head, and they can't hit us in the knees when we're in the pocket."

I feel like he's (Matthews') playing football. He's played a long time, he hit me right in the strike zone. That's the new rule they put in, though, with finishing off quarterbacks to the ground."

Rarely one to mince words, D.J. Swearinger argued the rules such as the one which penalized Matthews are "making the game less fun."

Jay Gruden said he and the coaches try to instruct defenders on how to tackle properly within the new rules, but it's hard for players in Matthews' situation to prevent themselves from getting flagged. 

"We've watched as many videos as we can, but every week there seems to be another one that's a little bit questionable, and that's not gonna change," Gruden told the media. "We just have to continue to coach our guys and try to do the best we can to sweep the leg and make sure we don't put our body weight on the quarterback and don't lead with our head."

"It's exciting for those guys when they get back there and are able to hit the quarterback, man. And they're going full speed, it's hard for them to adjust their body — these big guys, fast guys — in a split second. But we're trying to do the best we can. It's a critical penalty in some of these games that can hurt you."

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