Kneelgate: Schiano, Coughlin and A Brief History of the Quarterback Kneel

On Sunday, during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers/New York Giants game, there was a controversy involving the Bucaneers attacking the line during a quarterback kneel. With that in mind here is a brief history of the quarterback sneak. The kneel is not counted as a sack but -1 yard rushing.

What is a Quarterback Kneel?

The quarterback kneel is an offensive play in which, after the ball is snapped, the quarterback immediately kneels. This ends the play but continues the game clock. It is usually used at the end of the game to run down the clock when the opposing team either does not have enough timeouts to get the ball back, or is too far behind to level the game.

What is the Official Rule for a Quarterback Kneel?

Rule 7, Section 2, Article 1 of the official NFL rule book states: 

"An official shall declare the ball dead and the down ended … when a quarterback immediately drops to his knee (or simulates dropping to his knee) behind the line of scrimmage."

Why do teams use the Quarterback Kneel?

Teams use quarterback kneels when they want to take time off the clock and they are ahead on points. It is considered a safer way to end the game than risk a fumble or interception.

What is the Controversy involving the Buccaneers?

By rushing the line at the end of the game on Sunday, the Buccaneers broke an unwritten rule of football - that only hand-slapping will occur during a quarterback kneel.

What do the coaches say?

The following quotes are taken from the New York Times website: 

New York Giants  Head Coach - Tom Coughlin: ”I don’t think you do that at this level. You don’t do that in this league. You don’t just, you jeopardize the offensive line, you jeopardize the quarterback. Thank goodness we didn’t get anyone hurt — that I know of. ”
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach - Greg Schiano: “I don’t know if that’s not something that’s done in the National Football League, but what I do with our football team is we fight until they tell us game over.
“There’s nothing dirty about it. There’s nothing illegal about it. You know, we crowd the ball, and we try to knock it loose. At Rutgers, if you watched us, that’s what we did at the end of games. We’re not going to quit.
“I don’t have any hesitation; that’s the way we play — clean hard football until they tell us the game’s over.”

Until Kickoff's Take

I am conflicted on this. The QB kneel is there to protect the players at the end of the game, but they are not protected like this at any other time. American Football is a full contact sport and every play can and should be contested. I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Sound off in the comments below.

Lewis English is the Editor of Until Kickoff. You can follow him on Twitter here.

1 comment:

  1. It's bad sportsmanship, plain and simple.

    This is not something that's been cooked up this season - the kneel has long been in place and it's accepted that when a team reaches a situation in which they are able to kneel, the other team recognises they have been beaten and don't take unnecessary risks.

    It's bad sportsmanship and it lacks dignity.