Many Eagles fans were upset when there was no penalty flag for the Justin Simmons hit that concussed Dallas Goedert in Philadelphia’s Week 10 win over the Denver Broncos. That same audience might not be thrilled to hear no fine is coming Simmons’ way because the NFL believes the hit was, in fact, legal.
NFL senior vice president of officiating administration Perry Fewell presented an explanation on Wednesday afternoon (starting around the 0:37 mark):
Perry Fewell runs through plays from Week 10: pic.twitter.com/afoklpXCXB— NFL Officiating (@NFLOfficiating) November 17, 2021
“In Philadelphia versus Denver, Philadelphia 88 received the ball and began to advance down the field. Denver 21 attempted to tackle Philadelphia 88, who began to lose his balance. Then Denver 31 made a hit on the ball-carrier with his shoulder. When the receiver clearly is a runner and moving with the ball, it is only a foul if the defender lowers his head and initiates contact with his helmet. It is NOT a foul for a shoulder-to-helmet hit on the runner unless he is down or out of bounds.
The logic is sound here when it comes to Goedert being considered a runner. The defenseless receiver rule doesn’t apply since he took about at least five steps before first contact.
That being said, I’ve yet to see a conclusive angle that shows Simmons’ helmet definitely not making initial contact with Goedert’s helmet. It looks like he leads with the shoulder in the clip here but are we 100% sure that the helmets didn’t touch at all? And, even if they didn’t touch, is the league really satisfied with a player almost getting their head knocked off but it being legal because of a technically? Practicality doesn’t seem to win out in this situation.
Regardless, the NFL seems to be convinced. And, thus, Simmons will not be punished for his hit.
Meanwhile, Goedert is still in the concussion protocol. He’s potentially in danger of missing the Eagles’ Week 11 game against the New Orleans Saints.
Nick Sirianni was asked about Simmons’ hit on Goedert earlier this week.
Q. How’s TE Dallas Goedert doing? And second off, did you think that the hit was dirty, and did you discuss the hit with the referees and what was their explanation?
NICK SIRIANNI: Dallas is in the concussion protocol. Those hits happen a lot of times. I’m not here to ever question the integrity of another player or anything like that.
Those happen. You’re going in there and you’re going to get a hit and Dallas goes to the ground and the guy’s coming in to hit and where his head is normally was probably perfectly fine, but as Dallas goes to the ground, it becomes an illegal hit or whatever.
I’m not going to question the integrity of the player. I have a lot of respect for [Broncos S] Justin Simmons. He’s a really, really good football player, phenomenal tackler. And he showed a lot of good open field tackles yesterday. And I think he’s a first-class player and person, as well, of what I know of him. So, I’m not going to ever question that.
We always look at stuff. We always have a list of questions that we want to ask the referees after the game, just so we can help our players, teach our players.
But, hey, they got a hard job. The referees got a hard job and they got to make those things — we always talk about this in our coaches’ office. We have that remote in our hands and we can slow it down really slow, right, to show what’s happening in that play.
They got to make those decisions with the speed of that game, that game moves so quick.
But we always want to know some things like that that happened in the game with officiating questions so we can teach our guys how to play the game right without being penalized.