WASHINGTON — Kirk Cousins doesn’t really like to slide in the open field.
Even though the NFL has rules in place to protect quarterbacks from big hits in all situations, scrambling and sliding seem to create confusion for officiating crews. Even if the penalties are called correctly, they don’t take back a concussion suffered from another late hit.
So when Cousins had to tuck the ball and run in the first half against the New Orleans Saints, he was understandably apprehensive. As he started his slide, he should’ve been in clear. But, as we’ve seen too many times in the NFL this season, a Saints defender was lowering his shoulder to clean his clock:
Fortunately for Redskins fans, Cousins jumped right to his feet amid a shower of penalty flags from officials. His team picked up the first down on the unnecessary roughness penalty and kept marching down the field.
Earlier this season in a game against the Miami Dolphins, Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens were not so lucky. On a similar play, Flacco tucked the ball and ran up the middle, breaking into a slide just short of the first down marker.
It was there that Dolphins defender Kiko Alonso launched himself at Flacco in a similar fashion. After the game, Alonso claimed that he was unable to change his trajectory, even though replay clearly shows that the timing of his hit was after Flacco had already begun to slide.
Alonso was fined more than $9,000 for the hit but was not ejected or suspended. Flacco entered the NFL’s concussion protocol and missed the next game as well.
This particular play worked out well for the Redskins, but if the NFL is serious about protecting defenseless quarterbacks that are trying to play within the framework of the rules, then they need to do more on plays like this.
Cousins and the Redskins got lucky this time, but they shouldn’t have to count on luck.