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After the game, Eagles tackle Jason Peters called it a dirty hit, indicating that he thought Suggs planned to go low on Bradford, who missed last season with a torn ACL."He hit him low and tried to hit him around his knees," Peters said, via CSN Philly. "He's that type of player who is dirty and will take shots on the quarterback."The NFL's Vice President of Officiating, Dean Blandino, disagreed with Peters, saying that the hit was legal under the current rules."We clarified this really in 2012 with the proliferation of these read option schemes and basically because the quarterback has an option, he's considered a runner until he either clearly doesn't have the football or he reestablishes himself as a passer," Blandino said, per NFL.com. "So, it's not a foul by rule.
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It's something that we will make sure 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 reestablishes as a passer or he clearly doesn't have the football."
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Some people, seeing a screenshot like the one below, would question whether Bradford is still really a threat to keep the football here, or if he's established himself as out of the play:Obviously, the screenshot makes it look pretty clear that Bradford is out of the play. But it's important to remember that a screenshot captures a fraction of a millisecond, while Suggs is seeing the play happen in real time. And even within that shot, you can see Suggs already lunging toward Bradford and attempting to make a hit. It's not like he's first loading up once Bradford has given the ball away. It's probably a borderline situation here, which is likely why there's so much consternation surrounding whether or not the hit was legal. Both sides have a decent argument.
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Eagles coach Chip Kelly, though, thinks the whole distinction shouldn't matter. He said Monday that it's "troubling" if a quarterback can be hit when handing the ball off in shotgun.The NFL has gone to great lengths to protect quarterbacks when they're in the pocket acting as passers, outlawing hits above the neck and below the knee, as well as with the late hit/roughing the passer penalty. Quarterbacks that act as runners, though, operate under a different set of rules, and it's probably not realistic to legislate this kind of hit out of the game completely.If the quarterback is reading a single defender and either handing off or keeping it based on who that defender is looking to hit, the quarterback is going to take some hits either as he hands off or just after doing so. That's what the play is designed to do: make the defender hit a player that doesn't have the ball, while the guy who actually has it scampers away for a gain.