• Stevie Johnson's Block Was Legal, And Part Of The Game

    Stevie Johnson made a clean, and legal block on Eric Berry last Sunday. It is unfortunate that Berry suffered a serious injury on the play. The league is trying it's best to protect players, but if they eliminate the 'cut block', they will fudamentally change the way the game is played.

    The 'cut block' should not be confused with the 'chop block'.

    A 'cut block' is a block made below the waist on another player. In order to be legal, the head and shoulders must be in front of the target. The hittee usually aims for the thigh area of his opponent.

    A 'chop block' is when two players engage a defender simultaneously, one high, and one low. This is an ILLEGAL block. There is no place for it in the game.

    The 'cut block' is usually executed by smaller players, like wide receivers trying to block safeties and corners in the open field. It is an equalizer that allows smaller players to compete with larger ones. Navy football is successful because of this tactic. They usually give away about 40 pounds per man, but can compete with the big boys by utilizing the 'cut block'.

    At 160 lbs, if I took on defender up high, I could get knocked into next week. But by going low, I could get his attention and be an effective blocker in the run game. In fact, you could really get into a DB's head if they know you'r coming for their legs. They get so enraged with revenge at times, that it could give you an advantage running routes.

    There have been many complaints that the Johnson'e block was illegal and that he should apologize to Berry. I'm sure he didn't intend to cause injury and that he feels badly for Berry. But it was a legal play.


    Comments 31 Comments
    1. MachoMenos's Avatar
      Is Todd Haley complaining again? Seriously, losing Berry and Moeaki just made the Chiefs a contender for last place in the AFC West.
    1. msclemons's Avatar
      Wow - that block is very close to being behind Berry rather than in front. It is technically legal but it is stretching the spirit of the rule. Most of the impact was on the side of Berry's knee.

      Not a dirty play or an illegal play but definately a dengerous play by Johnson there.
    1. Phil McConkey's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by msclemons View Post
      Wow - that block is very close to being behind Berry rather than in front. It is technically legal but it is stretching the spirit of the rule. Most of the impact was on the side of Berry's knee.

      Not a dirty play or an illegal play but definately a dengerous play by Johnson there.
      I respectfully disagree.
    1. vancemeek's Avatar
      Let me ask Cris and Phil this, if Johnson had been blocking high, and had used his hands, would it have been called a block in the back? If so, then it shouldn't be legal to go low either. I'm with clem on this. It seems to be a legal play, but very very close and, obviously, dangerous.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Such a good player, hate to see him go down. It looked like he got his leg out of the way without planting, but obviously not.
    1. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
      It's terrible he got hurt, but its a legal play. Guys get hurt, that's the nature of the game. If I had a nickel everytime someone whined about a "dirty" block hines ward made that was perfectly legal... Receivers are allowed to be physical too. It seems like everytime a receiver takes a good lick its whined about as a dirty hit, but its perfectly ok for a db to pound a receiver. I won't argue either point, all ill say is this.

      It's a physical game, that's why we love it so. As long as its within the rules, I want it to be as physical a game as possible. Apply the rules evenly to both sides and call the plays as they are seen..

      I hated getting cut blocked when I played, but it was my responsibility to understand that was what was probably going to happen and protect myself as best I could. I didn't play pro, of course, but the same methodology applies.
    1. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by vancemeek View Post
      Let me ask Cris and Phil this, if Johnson had been blocking high, and had used his hands, would it have been called a block in the back? If so, then it shouldn't be legal to go low either. I'm with clem on this. It seems to be a legal play, but very very close and, obviously, dangerous.
      Of course it would have been a block in the back, he was behind the play. The only option he had legally was to cut block. By diving into a cut, he put himself in front of the play, making it legal. Had he stayed on his feet and blocked high , he would have remained behind the play and committed a blocking in the back penalty. Good football iq for Johnson, unfortunate outcome for berry.
    1. vancemeek's Avatar
      Yes, as i said, it was legal, but a dangerous play. The question was rhetorical. The point is, he was coming in from behind, unseen, and a block at his legs left him done for the year. I'm not arguing the legality of it at all. I'm just saying it's dangerous.
    1. vancemeek's Avatar
      I'd also argue the statement thate he "put himself in front of the play". Watching the replay, it doesn't look like he got in front of Berry, but more from the side and behind.
    1. BuckeyeRidley's Avatar
      This is a reality of Football. Plays like that are going to occur and people get hurt. However, its a real part of the game. It reminds me of the hair pulling that Troy Polamalu got when was tackled (taken down) after he got an interception; same for Ricky Williams. I know that this play gives way to comparisons to "Crack Back" plays but that one is legit.
    1. vancemeek's Avatar
      There's never going to be a way to take injuries out of the game. Also, receivers should have the right to block, and, IMO, blocking low isn't an issue. My concern, on this particular play, is that Johnson was too far behind him to get in front of him. If Goodell is going to change rules and enforce safety, then this particular play should be looked at. If Johnson got caught behind the defender, then tough break, and diving from behind at the side or back of his legs shouldn't be legal. Just my opinion.
    1. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by vancemeek View Post
      There's never going to be a way to take injuries out of the game. Also, receivers should have the right to block, and, IMO, blocking low isn't an issue. My concern, on this particular play, is that Johnson was too far behind him to get in front of him. If Goodell is going to change rules and enforce safety, then this particular play should be looked at. If Johnson got caught behind the defender, then tough break, and diving from behind at the side or back of his legs shouldn't be legal. Just my opinion.
      Who knows maybe this play prompts the "stevie johnson" rule, much like hines wards crack back that broke rivers jaw a couple seasons ago. Now its illegal, but man do I love seeing that block on you tube!!

      On a complete aside, If there isn't an all time best hits thread on the site, we need to start one!
    1. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by BuckeyeRidley View Post
      This is a reality of Football. Plays like that are going to occur and people get hurt. However, its a real part of the game. It reminds me of the hair pulling that Troy Polamalu got when was tackled (taken down) after he got an interception; same for Ricky Williams. I know that this play gives way to comparisons to "Crack Back" plays but that one is legit.
      Polamalu and rickey knew the risks of long hair, its considered part of your uniform. It's legal to pull hair as feminine as that sounds, no offense ladies. Sure lj pulling hair made me angry, but its legal, much as this block was, much as hines' block on rivers was at the time. I can't fault the player who executed a legal play..

      Here's how I feel. If the cut block is legislated out of the game, we should give the players flags. Stop taking the physicality out of the game. It's what made the game what it is. Everyone knows what they're getting into beforehand. They're adults. They chose to do that as a profession. I chose my college scholarship for lacrosse, and I tore my rotator cuff 3 times as a result. I'm not bitter, I knew i was trading my body for an education I couldn't afford otherwise. These guys trade their bodies to make generational wealth for their families in most cases.

      James Harrison says tons, and I mean tons of stupid stuff. But the one quote he said that stuck with me was this, and I'm paraphrasing.. he would put his body through hell, so his kids would never have to. James knows this, and we all know full well he isn't the sharpest tack. You don't ever get something for nothing. These guys get huge paychecks by sacrificing their bodies.
    1. vancemeek's Avatar
      No offense meant, but statements like "let's just give them flags" just don't make any sense. Nobody is telling James Harrison not to make hard hits, they're saying don't lead with the head. Nobody is saying cut blocks should be illegal, I just think they should be illegal from behind. Physicality is still possible, even with extra safety precautions in certain instances.
    1. Ragar's Avatar
      OK, I'm confused, the definition given in the OP of a legal cut-blcok is " Head and SHOULDER must be in front of the target". Johnson's head is in front of Berry when contact is made by Johnson's shoulder to teh back/side of Berry's knee, thereby failing the definition given to a cut block by hte original post. How is this play defined as legal?
    1. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by vancemeek View Post
      No offense meant, but statements like "let's just give them flags" just don't make any sense. Nobody is telling James Harrison not to make hard hits, they're saying don't lead with the head. Nobody is saying cut blocks should be illegal, I just think they should be illegal from behind. Physicality is still possible, even with extra safety precautions in certain instances.
      My problem is this. I'm all for safety, but don't neuter the game to the point we don't recognize it. It's happened too much already. A good offense is way more important in most cases than a good defense. I mean no offense, but ill guess from your posts you're a younger fan. That's cool, and we need all the fans we can get because the NFL is the greatest league on earth. The drawback is your posts seem to ignore the roots of the game, and how for 30+ years the rules have been enacted to create more offense, not necessarily play better football. Offense drives up ratings.

      I'll offer this up. In the last 33 years we have been introduced to rules that highly favor the offensive side of the ball. It started with the Mel blount rule, and the Rodney Harrison, Tom Brady, hines ward, and the new defenseless receiver rules that followed have legislated the game to sway towards the offense. Most of these rules have pushed the pendulum towards taking the agressiveness out of the game. Some were necessary, some not as much. Outlawing the cut block would be down right blasphemy. It's a staple of football. Sure maybe these other changes have made the game better, in certain respects, but stop it already. If people want a non physical game to go play take up tennis. The us hasn't had a decent prospect in men's tennis in forever. Take up golf, we need another top American guy. Just stop turning the NFL into hard push 2 hand touch football, one rule change at a time.
    1. nonamesleft's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by mikesteelnation1 View Post
      My problem is this. I'm all for safety, but don't neuter the game to the point we don't recognize it. It's happened too much already. A good offense is way more important in most cases than a good defense. I mean no offense, but ill guess from your posts you're a younger fan. That's cool, and we need all the fans we can get because the NFL is the greatest league on earth. The drawback is your posts seem to ignore the roots of the game, and how for 30+ years the rules have been enacted to create more offense, not necessarily play better football. Offense drives up ratings.

      I'll offer this up. In the last 33 years we have been introduced to rules that highly favor the offensive side of the ball. It started with the Mel blount rule, and the Rodney Harrison, Tom Brady, hines ward, and the new defenseless receiver rules that followed have legislated the game to sway towards the offense. Most of these rules have pushed the pendulum towards taking the agressiveness out of the game. Some were necessary, some not as much. Outlawing the cut block would be down right blasphemy. It's a staple of football. Sure maybe these other changes have made the game better, in certain respects, but stop it already. If people want a non physical game to go play take up tennis. The us hasn't had a decent prospect in men's tennis in forever. Take up golf, we need another top American guy. Just stop turning the NFL into hard push 2 hand touch football, one rule change at a time.
      Making these types of cut blocks would be one rule change that would actually help defense, albeit not enough to offset all the other rules. I imagine 30 years ago there were fans who complained about how much the NFL had changed since the 50's with the disappearance of two way players and everyone becoming a specialist.
    1. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by nonamesleft View Post
      Making these types of cut blocks would be one rule change that would actually help defense, albeit not enough to offset all the other rules. I imagine 30 years ago there were fans who complained about how much the NFL had changed since the 50's with the disappearance of two way players and everyone becoming a specialist.
      I won't disagree about a rule change on this helping defenses, but then that prompts another rule change to further neuter the defense. And 30 years ago they weren't 5 significant rule changes further towards being hard 2 hand shove. Rule changes didn't eliminate 2 way players, natural selection did. It's obvious you can be better when you focus on one specific position. Once popularity In the game fueled enough people playing it to make position specificity an option it became the norm. It was no longer necessary for one guy to play 2 positions to field a viable team.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by mikesteelnation1 View Post
      On a complete aside, If there isn't an all time best hits thread on the site, we need to start one!
      I'll see your Jack Lambert and raise you a Dick Butkuss
    1. Phil McConkey's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by mikesteelnation1 View Post
      Who knows maybe this play prompts the "stevie johnson" rule, much like hines wards crack back that broke rivers jaw a couple seasons ago. Now its illegal, but man do I love seeing that block on you tube!!

      On a complete aside, If there isn't an all time best hits thread on the site, we need to start one!
      I'll bet most of those classic, all time hits, would have been penalized and fined in today's NFL.