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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zimmer on recent ugly hits: ‘Back in the day, the ball wouldn’t have been thrown’

By Matthew Coller

Years ago, receivers would get extra praise if they were willing to go over the middle and take punishment from linebackers and safeties.

These days, every receiver goes over the middle without the same type of fear. But Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said Wednesday quarterbacks’ willingness to throw over the middle is part of the reason for a high number of personal foul penalties and suspendable hits.

“I guess I’m a defensive coach and a lot times these quarterbacks throw the ball in the middle of the field and these safeties are coming to make a play on the ball,” Zimmer said. “And to be quite honest, the ball shouldn’t have been thrown – back in the day the ball wouldn’t have been thrown.”

Prior to the 2016 season, the NFL made it a “point of emphasis” to penalize hits with the crown of the helmet, putting the onus on defenders to avoid helmet-to-helmet hits. The NFL Competition Committee wrote:

“For safety reasons, the Committee believes that crown-of-the-helmet hits by defenders that were previously legal because the defender did not line up the runner should be illegal regardless of whether the defender lines up the runner prior to making contact.”

Zimmer talked about that challenge that presents for safeties on throws on routes like a skinny post that go right into their area.

“We have to adapt to the rules and the hard part, especially for the safeties is when they’re catching the ball and the guy is going down and you’ve lowered your target and he continues to go lower and now you have to try to – well, you know about the time it take a golf ball to come off a club face to try to move your target another spot, which is almost totally impossible,” Zimmer said. “But, I think they could take a bunch of these plays out if the quarterback wouldn’t throw the ball into places that he shouldn’t throw the ball.”

The Vikings’ head coach acknowledged that making the game safer should be a priority. He addressed a hit last week by Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis on Green Bay wide receiver Devante Adams, which landed Davis a two-game suspension (which was reduced to one game).

“I think the NFL is trying to do an awful lot on it,” Zimmer said. “I think it’s important we try to take the hits to the head out of the game the best we can. You don’t want to see people get hurt or get injured. One of the hardest ones, and I’ve said this many times, is when you’re going backwards toward your own goal line and somebody’s coming forward because typically the guy’s not looking and my opinion doesn’t matter, but I think those you should screen them like a basketball guy instead of hitting them. You can knock the heck out of them even if you don’t hit them in the neck and head area.”

In the Vikings’ last matchup with the Packers, receiver Laquon Treadwell was penalized for a block on a Green Bay defender in which Treadwell turned back toward his own end zone to hit the defenseless player. Zimmer recalled a hit by Pittsburgh receiver Hines Ward, which ended the season for his linebacker.

“You can screen them get the job done and you know you’re not going to get anybody hurt,” Zimmer said. “I had Keith Rivers play Pittsburgh one time and he ended up getting his jaw broke on a very similar hit like that. He ended up missing the whole year. I think we got to continue to try to be safer with all those things.”

The post Zimmer on recent ugly hits: ‘Back in the day, the ball wouldn’t have been thrown’ appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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