Kiko Alonso is likely going to be fined by the NFL for a vicious hit on a “sliding” Joe Flacco … and it’s total B.S.
Here’s a perfect example why: Last Monday night, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz took off running on a critical third-down play. At the Redskins’ 39-yard-line, Wentz “entered” into his slide. Respecting the rule not to hit a sliding quarterback, safety Montae Nicholson lets up on the play, only to watch as Wentz digs his foot in and slips by him for 11 more yards.
It was a great fake by Wentz … that happened only because the NFL’s coddling of quarterbacks has put the onus of safety 100 percent on the defender, who in this case got burned by trying to do the right thing.
Now compare this play to the one involving Flacco and Alonso. At the 13-yard-line, Flacco is still upright, with Alonso running at him full speed at the 9 – 12 feet away. Flacco enters his slide at the 12, and by the time his knee actually touches the ground – meaning while he’s technically down, he’s still very much upright — he’s at the 11, with Alonso at the 10. Between the start of the slide and the time of the hit, a total of maybe .39 seconds elapses.
There’s no rule on when a quarterback should slide, nor is there a rule against fake slides. So in that .39 seconds – or a distance of at most 6 feet — the NFL has legislated that Alonso must determine that A) Flacco is in fact sliding and B) must alter and/or halt his full-speed momentum in a way that doesn’t physically touch the quarterback. Of course, if he decides to let up on the play and Flacco jukes by him (as Wentz did Nicholson), well, there’s no penalty on Flacco, only embarrassment and a tongue-lashing for Alonso.
The whole thing could have been avoided if Flacco hadn’t been trying to squeeze out every last yard and instead slid earlier. If you’re going to expect a defender to avoid hitting a sliding quarterback, shouldn’t the quarterback be expected to slide early enough to avoid an oncoming defender?
As it stands, 100 percent of the burden is on the guy who is relying on the other guy to play fair. And even when said guy does play “fair,” he’s allowed to decide when he wants to start playing fair.
There is absolutely zero — zero — argument that the rules the NFL has put in place are not in favor of the offensive player. There is literally no penalty that could have been called on Flacco in this case, meaning there is an inherent presumption of innocence.
But was Wentz really innocent? Or did he just game the system?
This is actually a rhetorical question, because the answer is so obvious.
If the NFL’s serious about safety, they’d legislate when quarterbacks need to slide, and if they don’t slide early enough, they’re penalized, too. And if you’re wondering how a quarterback determines when it’s appropriate to slide, well, that’s a far easier determination to make than what’s expected of an oncoming defender who doesn’t know if you’re actually going to slide or not and, if so, when.
Kiko Alonso’s going to get fined for what he did, but the reality is Joe Flacco is no different than the insurance scammer slamming on his brakes in traffic, hoping to get rear-ended.