Harbaugh: Read-option protection rule 'doesn't make sense'

Harbaugh clarifies his understanding of QB protection

Harbaugh: Read-option protection rule 'doesn't make sense'
September 6, 2013, 4:45 pm
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Jim Harbaugh (right) doesn't think current rules properly protect read-option quarterbacks from hard hits. (AP)

SANTA CLARA -- Coach Jim Harbaugh on Friday expressed his concerns about the rules that govern read-option quarterbacks.

He describes the NFL's interpretation of the rule as "flawed and biased.”

When asked why he feels it's biased, Harbaugh explained his position:

“But I believe that when a quarterback is handing a ball off or faking a ball, in the read option case he’s reading on an option play, he’s as defenseless as a quarterback who’s in the act of throwing. And I’m not advocating that they don’t hit the quarterback if he has the ball, but when he’s in the pocket I believe there should be a strike zone. The same strike zone that is given to the quarterback when he’s in the pocket and throwing the ball. I feel like you give a license now to players to hit quarterbacks at the knee or in the head, and it just seems to be a flip-flop of what the league’s trying to get accomplished. Players safety, I’ve heard [Falcons President and CEO and Competition Committee Chairman] Rich McKay talking about the Competition Committee looking into ways to reduce chop blocks or a player is getting hit at the knee and now you’re really opening up a door and giving a license to defensive players to say, ‘I couldn’t tell if he clearly had the ball or not, so now we can hit him in the knee or the head.’ It just, it doesn’t make sense.

"Yeah, once the quarterback has indicated that he’s going to be a runner, then I believe that he is a runner and should be treated like a runner, but when he’s in the pocket in that vulnerable position, in that reading position, then I believe he should have the same protection as a quote unquote ‘throwing quarterback.’ And then how do you decide? Who makes that determination that a quarterback is making a fake whether he’s under center faking to a tailback or he’s in the shotgun faking a running back to a tailback. By definition a fake is a deception, it’s a deceptive maneuver. The quarterback that makes a fake and then waggles out on a bootleg, he’s a runner or a thrower. Now are they opened up to be hit in the head and the knees, treated like a running back? So, that’s how I feel about it. It seems simple, it seems like they would have more of an appetite to look at that and they’ve said they don’t have an appetite to look at it any further. So, that’s where we’re at.”