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Strike zones and football

The SEC is implementing a “strike zone” for its players and I love it. According to the rule which will be implemented this season in the SEC, players can only contact a QB above the knee and below the neck when in a “passing posture, regardless of if he’s in the pocket or out of the pocket.”

I like the way this rule reads and think it will become a great way to teach defenders and train their competitive cognition. It’s so simple to understand. Coaches can teach it and a “strike zone” is a great way the train the player to be aggressive and smart at the same time. Strike zone says, here’s where you can hit the Q. Now go get him!

But there are some grey caveats.

The defender must be a) unabated to the QB, and b) the QB or offensive player throwing the ball must be in a passing posture.

Well, define unabated. The SEC says unabated means the defender is under his own power and not blocked into the Q. That sounds good in theory but sometimes it becomes very hard to ascertain when officials see it live.

Also, define passing posture? How does that posture look if the QB acts like he’s running the ball and throws it late? Or pulls the ball down in the pocket moves around the pocket and then the arm suddenly comes up and you contact below the knee?

Those scenarios represent big, fat, grey areas.

No rule changes that restrict the way a football player can contact another are ever embraced immediately and that truth resonates with me. But the game is changing and instead of throwing up my hands and walking away from the best game the world has ever known, I’d rather accept the reality and re-think the way the game is taught and learned.

And that’s why I like this teaching tactic from the SEC. It seems small and insignificant but frames up the new reality in football: be physical but smart.