After Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was sick of what he thinks have been repeated illegal hits on him that haven’t been called.
Newton said that he will speak with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about it, saying that “at times, I don’t even feel safe” and that “it’s not fun.” Newton’s response seems thought-out and fair, especially after seeing some of the hits that haven’t been flagged that he’s taken this year. There were some in Sunday’s game, and surely no one can forget some of the dirty hits that the Broncos had against him in week one. In other words, Newton has a point. And according to ESPN’s Ed Werder, the league did find that one of the hits against Newton from Sunday’s game should have been flagged.
But is he more unfairly targeted than other quarterbacks? The league would likely say no. Pro Football Talk reported that NFL officials think there have been three missed roughing calls on Cam Newton since the start of 2013, which is less than eleven other quarterbacks - including the Colts’ Andrew Luck.
Per PFT, the league thinks that officials have missed more roughing calls on Jay Cutler, Alex Smith, Geno Smith, Josh McCown, Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, Case Keenum, and Ryan Tannehill than Newton, in that order.
So the league apparantly thinks that there have been more uncalled hits on Andrew Luck that should have actually been flagged for roughing since 2013 than on Cam Newton. Now, granted, it’s perfectly fair to question the NFL here: only three uncalled illegal hits on Newton since 2013? And is there some sort of tracker for illegal hits per player that aren’t called? It seems strange, and as PFT said, they haven’t been able to review the film to determine for sure either way. But it does sound as if that will be the NFL’s response to Newton in this matter.
Part of what makes these calls hard for officials is when it’s a mobile quarterback, like both Newton and Luck are. Both of them can move around and extend plays with their legs, which makes it tough on officials on how to call the penalties. So honestly, it’s not too surprising to see Luck included in that list, because considering how many hits he takes and considering his mobility, you’d absolutely expect him to take some hits that are illegal. We don’t know how many the NFL thinks haven’t been called, but according to PFT the league thinks only Jay Cutler, Alex Smith, Geno Smith, and Josh McCown have had more in recent seasons.
If for nothing else, it’s something interesting to point out, and it’s worth monitoring as this goes on to see whether we hear anything else about this mysterious list of non-called roughing penalties.