Saturday's game was unwatchable, and it wasn't the Vikings or Jaguars fault

posted by Aj Mansour - 

Photo: Getty Images

The crisp fall air hasn't exactly blown in from the west quite yet but there is football in the air and it's  usually the time of year where we're all really excited to start watching football games that matter again.

You're probably getting ready for your fantasy draft, you're probably (hopefully) listening to a little bit more sports talk radio, you've likely already purchased a new fresh Kirk Cousins Vikings jersey and you're ready to go. 

Then Saturday happened and if you're anything like me it completely buzz killed any of those good feelings you were starting to experience.

Yeah, it wasn't an impressive effort for Cousins and your first team offense (13 total yards of offense), yeah they lost a game that really doesn't mean all that much, yeah there were a good number of semi-serious and serious injuries sustained by the purple, but none of that is what harshed my mellow.

My attitude was soured by the style of play that was hampered and restricted by the referees on hand.

It was Shawk Hochuli's crew and man were they trying to send a message with these new rules of emphasis across the NFL this season.

All-in-all there were 20 penalties called on Saturday for a grand total of 200 penalty yards. That leaves the fans with a start and stop style of play, it doesn't allow teams to get any sort of momentum and it makes a game drag out when the game already doesn't really matter.

But it wasn't just the quantity of penalties, but it was the quality of penalties that should really have NFL fans worried.

In an attempt to keep the players safe and probably have some sort of a positive impact on the future of the game, the league has enacted a handful of new penalties to the rule book this year that are going to cause some major problems for players that are used to playing football. It's going to cause problems as it forces them to change the way that they play football, sometimes severely.

I can understand the rule changes on the kickoffs. It's the most dangerous play in football and it's proven. So if you can drop the wedge-blocks, drop the running starts and make it safer for the players so-be-it.

But then there's the crown of the helmet rules and the weight of the body rules that truly baffle me.

The first and most egregious example of these new rules came in the second have as Vikings LB Antwione Williams blitzed into the Jacksonville backfield to sack the quarterback untouched. At first glance in the video below, it appears to be a clean sack, legal hit and nothing outside of the lines. But he was flagged, a 15 yard penalty for "roughing the passer" because Williams didn't make an effort to get his body weight off of the quarterback's body.

What a joke, right? I'm really not sure what Williams was supposed to do in this situation? It's such a bang-bang play, his body is literally being launched through the air and he's some how supposed to pull of a crazy Matrix style body twist to move his body weight off of the quarterback? 

Give me a break.

This is the same rule that would have made the infamous Anthony Barr hit on Aaron Rodgers last season illegal. 

Another situation actually popped up earlier in the game and went against the Jaguars when Bouye was flagged for "Lowering the Head to Initiate Contact" on this C.J. Ham reception...

I mean for real? What is this dude supposed to do differently as he sees a 235lb fullback barreling down on him in the open field?

The NFL is doing this all in the name of safety for the fear that if the game remains "unsafe" it's future will be tarnished and young people will no longer play football. I think there's an argument to be had to go the other way as well saying that if they change the way the game of football is played too much, they'll lose fans as well. Saturday's game, albeit a preseason matchup, was painful. If that's what we have to expect for 16 regular season games this year, it's going to be ugly and assuredly there will be some fans that will jump off the ship.

Here's to hoping they're purposefully going overboard in the preseason in an attempt to send a message before they pull back on those reigns in the regular season a bit.

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