Todd Bowles hopes NFL can find middle ground with roughing penalties

The Bucs coach believes the team coaches pass rushers the right way to play within the rules.
Atlanta Falcons defensive end Grady Jarrett (97) brings down Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12), resulting in a roughing-the-passer penalty, during Sunday's game at Raymond James Stadium.
Atlanta Falcons defensive end Grady Jarrett (97) brings down Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12), resulting in a roughing-the-passer penalty, during Sunday's game at Raymond James Stadium. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Oct. 12, 2022|Updated Oct. 15, 2022

TAMPA — The Bucs were at the center of the roughing-the-passer controversy after the penalty called on the Falcons’ Grady Jarrett following a sack of Tom Brady in last Sunday’s 21-15 win over Atlanta.

Then came another highly scrutinized flag on the Chiefs’ Chris Jones, who was called for a similar foul Monday night after sacking Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and stripping him of the football.

Those plays have prompted a lot of discussion, and it continued Wednesday with Bucs coach Todd Bowles saying he hopes the NFL can find a compromise between protecting the quarterback and allowing defensive players to make plays.

“Hopefully, we come to a middle ground,” Bowles said. “We want to be able to play football, play it clean and play it safe. So, hopefully everybody will get together and we’ll come to some middle ground to where we have an understanding of what we can and can’t do.

“It’s tough. You don’t want to fall on the quarterback. You want to hit him and go to the side. But sometimes you’re in a position where you’re coming from the back or you have a lineman on you that you just can’t avoid and come to the side. Hopefully, we have some meetings about that and have some middle ground where they can let the defensive linemen play a little bit.”

Bowles was asked if the continued emphasis on protecting the quarterback will affect the enthusiasm of young players wanting to play defense.

“We want to come to rules where we can play football,” he said. “But dulling the enthusiasm? No. There’s a lot of kids who love to play football. We try to play the right way. I’m sure everybody tries to play the right way.

“Look, it’s not a call here or there. You can ask any coach in the league. They’ve had calls go against them and calls go for them depending on what it was, so all of us can argue that fact. We’ve just got to play a clean game, and the referees have to do their job and we have to do ours.”

Bucs outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, who had a sack of Atlanta’s Marcus Mariota, said the rules can make pass rushers hesitate before hitting the quarterback.

“It slows you down. It definitely feels like you’re handicapped,” Tryon-Shoyinka said. “But at the end of the day, you’ve got to get the quarterback down. You just can’t hit him hard, you’ve got to be gentle, I guess. It’s a violent game at the end of the day.”

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Seven players were held out of practice Wednesday for an assortment of injuries, including wide receivers Russell Gage (ankle), Julio Jones (knee) and Jaelon Darden (tooth). Also not practicing were defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (foot), cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting (quad), safety Logan Ryan (foot) and linebacker Carl Nassib (illness).

Safety Mike Edwards (elbow), receiver Chris Godwin (hip/knee) and tackle Donovan Smith (elbow) were limited. Tight end Cameron Brate still is in concussion protocol but practiced Wednesday. Cornerback Carlton Davis (hip) and receiver Breshad Perriman (knee/hamstring) had full participation.

Bowles was asked if Brate has a chance to play Sunday at Pittsburgh. “He’s working,” Bowles said. “We’ll have to see how he goes through the week.”

Edwards, Murphy-Bunting, Davis and Ryan all have a chance to play, Bowles said: “Potentially, right now.”

Don’t talk to kickers

Ryan Succup is off to a terrific start, going 11-of-12 on field-goal attempts for 91.7 percent.

In fact, he’s doing so well that Bowles has had no communication with Succop at all.

“Ryan has been very solid. He’s very professional, a very solid guy,” Bowles said. “We don’t talk as much. When I first got the job, I told the kickers, ‘We won’t be talking a lot. If we have to talk, you’re probably missing kicks.’ We have been very far apart right now, and that’s a credit to him working hard and getting back healthy, so I’m pleased with him.”

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