Brandon Bridge is calling for change.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback wants the CFL’s command centre to have the ability to review hits to the head for potential penalties after he was the latest pivot to be on the receiving end of a controversial tackle on Sunday.
The Mississauga, Ont., native was hit late in the fourth quarter of Saskatchewan’s West Division semifinal loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers by Jackson Jeffcoat, who was not penalized for the helmet-to-helmet collision.
“I think how every play is being reviewed for a touchdown, I think they should review if something – if the command centre sees that it was a head-to-head, I think that they should be able to review that,” Bridge said.
CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said allowing the command centre to make calls on plays like Bridge’s is something the league will look at in the off-season.
He said the CFL has already started reaching out to team personnel to get their thoughts on potential changes.
Bridge said he underwent concussion testing following the hit, but is feeling pretty good and could have played this weekend. He doesn’t fault the referees for not calling a penalty on the play as they had a difficult angle.
Bridge said giving the command centre the ability to review would also help eliminate head hits.
“I think if you’re able to review it I think it can cause – it can extend a drive in a football game, it can hurt a team, it could take points off the board,” Bridge said.
Saskatchewan was also impacted on a non-call in its regular-season finale when quarterback Zach Collaros was hit high by Odell Willis of the B.C. Lions. Collaros passed concussion protocol ahead of the Winnipeg matchup but head coach Chris Jones opted not to play him and risk Collaros’s health.
Jones said it’s a bit frustrating to see no penalty called when his quarterbacks are hit in the head. He said he would give the CFL his opinion on potential changes if he’s asked.
“There does need to be some type of ramification for something negative that happens,” Jones said. “What that is will be beyond my purview.”
A roughing the passer penalty carries a 15-yard penalty in the CFL and players can face supplemental fines. Even if no penalty is called on the play, a player can be suspended or face a maximum fine, which is half a paycheque.
The NCAA issues a 15-yard penalty and ejection from the game if a player’s head is targeted.
Meanwhile, the NFL has become more strict with its roughing the passer penalty this season, issuing penalties if defenders land on the quarterback with more than half of their body weight. Jones said adopting that rule would be a good place to start.
Roughriders defensive end Willie Jefferson said it’s getting to a point where tackling quarterbacks is difficult.
“It’s something that you’re going to have to just train and work out,” Jefferson said.
Bridge said the stricter the penalty, the more players will pay attention.
“I think that if you start hitting people’s pockets,” he said. “I think they’ll definitely start second-guessing.”