Defensive players aren't the only guys frustrated with the NFL's new rules protecting passers. In fact, at least one quarterback is even starting to question them.
Monday night's game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers featured four roughing the passer penalties. Afterward, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger voiced his concern over the flags, per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler:
"There's a lot of them. I don't want to criticize the officiating, especially when you're talking about a penalty that helps the quarterback out. I was surprised at the first one. The second one I thought was legit. He hit me in the helmet. It was kind of like hearing that loud ring when your helmet gets hit. There are sure a lot of them. I can't imagine the fans at home are enjoying it too much."
Roethlisberger completed 30 of 38 passes for 353 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in the 30-27 victory, taking three sacks as well.
Each team was flagged twice for roughing the passer. At one point, three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt took to social media to voice his displeasure with the increase in penalties involving quarterbacks:
According to ESPN Stats & Info, the four calls were tied for the most in a game since 2001:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
There have been 4 roughing the passer penalties called tonight. The most roughing the passer penalties called in a single game since 2001 is 4: - Nov. 26, 2017: Cardinals (3) and Jaguars (1) - Nov. 8, 2015: Titans (3) and Saints (1) - Dec. 3, 2006: Cardinals (3) and Rams (1)
After Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone last year, the NFL implemented a new rule to protect signal-callers earlier this year. The rule prohibits a defender from landing on a quarterback with his body weight.
While the rule may help keep QBs on the field, it has had some negative ramifications. Not only can the penalties impact the outcome of a game, but it can also lead to defenders getting hurt.
Miami Dolphins defensive end William Hayes tore his ACL in Week 3 while trying to avoid putting his body weight on Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman was among those to speak out after Hayes' injury:
Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews has perhaps been the most outspoken on the new rules, as he has been flagged once in each of the first three weeks. After Sunday's game against Washington, Matthews said the league was "getting soft," according to Lindsay Jones of The Athletic.
It's one thing for defensive players (and fans) to rip the league for protecting offensive players, but when a quarterback—the position the new rule is protecting—says something, the league may have to take notice.