Fisher Says Changes Could be Coming

By Howard Balzer

This NFL season has seen a large number of questionable penalties on defensive players trying to make a play.

The subject came up again this week after linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar and cornerback Trumaine Johnson were called for 15-yard penalties against the 49ers.

Dunbar was flagged for a blow to the head when 49ers Colin Kaepernick went into a slide at the end of a run. Replays showed Dunbar didn't contact Kaepernick's head.

Later, Johnson was penalized for a hit on a defenseless receiver (Anquan Boldin), who had caught a pass and was going toward the ground while trying to reach the first-down line. The penalty was borderline at best, but NFL officials have been instructed to throw flags on anything close.

On Dunbar's penalty, Fisher said, "Jo-Lonn's penalty I wasn't really crazy about. I don't think that was a foul, but we understand that's the world we're in now under player safety."

As for Johnson, Fisher said, "With respect to Trumaine's penalty on third down, the coaches' tape didn't show much, but you look at the TV tape there is contact with his arm to the helmet. That's a player trying to prevent a ball carrier from getting a first down."

As a member of the league's competition committee, Fisher was asked if things have gone too far with officials calling penalties, which in numerous instances aren't fouls.

Fisher admitted, "I think that we need to look at some things. I think Trumaine's penalty, for example, is a really good example of a player who's trying to make a play, yet the helmet of the ball carrier - whether or not he's defenseless or not - is lowering and lowering and lowering and he's trying to make a play. But, the responsibility is placed on the defensive player and that's the way they are. I think there's a chance we'll look at some things and discuss them. I'm sure there will be a lot of things discussed this offseason."

One simple suggestion would be to make personal fouls reviewable within the instant replay. When the league tacitly acknowledges that errors will be made because of how the officials are told to call fouls, there should be way to reverse calls that are obviously wrong.

Howard Balzer will be contributing
to KSDK Sports throughout the 2013 season. Howard hosts "H and Friends" Monday-Friday from 9-11 on Fox Sports 1490 The Champ. He is also a host on SiriusXM NFL radio and one of 44 selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


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