Tom Brady was the initial master of the QB sneak, but the Philadelphia Eagles have taken it to a whole new level.
The Eagles line up two or three people behind Jalen Hurts, who is under center. Hurts, already 220-plus pounds of almost all muscle who can squat at least 600 pounds, gets the benefit from the multiple bodies behind him, and at this point, it's not a matter of if Hurts will get the first down but how much extra yardage could he get.
In fact, Eagles center Jason Kelce dubs their play simply as “92%,” meaning that's how often they get a first down on the play.
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Hurts ran for 10 first downs in Super Bowl LVII, and because of how automatic the play is, former NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said he thinks the league is going to discuss the matter this offseason and “I'd be shocked if they don't make a change.”
“I was talking to [Denver Broncos head coach] Sean Payton during Sunday’s game, and he said we’re going to do this every time next season if they don’t take it out,’’ Blandino, now FOX's rules expert, says.
“It amounts to a rugby scrum. The NFL wants to showcase the athleticism and skill of our athletes,” he continued. “This is just not a skillful play. This is just a tactic that is not an aesthetically pleasing play, and I think the competition committee is going to take a look at it.”
Blandino compared the “tush push” to a now-outlawed use of assistance on field goals and PATs.
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“If you remember on field goals and extra points, they used to be able to push the defensive linemen into the formation,’’ he said. “You would find the weak link on the offensive line. [The offensive line] would have their legs interlocked. And you would get two, and sometimes three, defensive linemen and two linebackers all pushing into that player. We got rid of that.”
Blandino says the easy solution is simply ban pushing the ball-carrier, a move that actually had been illegal up until 2005, but it would require some work.
“[Outlawing it] on sneaks is easy,’’ he said. “The downfield stuff, you just put the tape together, show it to the officials, and you just start calling it. That’s the key. To desensitize it, you’ve got to throw flags. I don’t think it will be a major issue.”
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Hurts has rushed for 1,444 yards on 204 carries – 123 of them for first downs – in 30 games since the start of the 2021 season.