The No. 1 thing John Harbaugh would change in the NFL

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday March 13, 2017

Many coaches will tell you there is now too much replay in football, but John Harbaugh wants more, especially in regards to player safety.

Harbaugh recently joined The MMQB’s podcast, and Peter King said the No. 1 rule he wants to change is a spot foul on defensive pass interference. For Harbaugh, that was No. 2. No. 1 was replay.

“My No. 1 is instant replay generally, and especially for safety reasons,” he said. “There’s no reason not to look at quarterback hits, because they’re 15-yard penalties, and they need to be right. Also if we miss them, we need to catch them. It doesn’t need to just be a fine. It needs to be in the game, it needs to be penalized.”

King then asked Harbaugh if he’d like all plays to be reviewable.

“I wouldn’t be opposed to that, but all plays that are safety-related,” he said. “Defenseless player play, start with that. They should all be reviewable, both ways, whether it’s called or not called.”

College football and the NFL handle these situations differently. For one, college has the targeting rule. And this past year, college football allowed the replay booth to call down to the field to review a possible targeting play that might have been missed on the field.

The ramped-up efforts on player safety come as the sport is under increased scrutiny over head injuries and painkiller treatment. Harbaugh has been outspoken in defending the sport. Two years ago, Harbaugh wrote a letter on the Ravens’ site about “Why Football Matters.

His player safety comments fall under that same line. Earlier in the podcast with King, Harbaugh was asked about that letter and why he keeps speaking out about the value of game.

The high school coaches and the guys you talk to, those are the guys really doing it,” he said. “Those are the guys on the front lines, driving young men to practice who don’t have a ride to practice and probably don’t have a male authority figure in their life, no one to look up to and nothing is demanded of them in a way that can make a difference in their life. It’s going to give them a chance to understand the values it takes to be successful. And it’s not just football. I’m not saying it can only be football. My daughter is in women’s sports. Any sport. And it can be any discipline.

“But football can be unique for certain people, 14-, 15-, 16-year-old boys who are trying to find their way and have a physical need and aren’t the most talented guy. If you want to be a basketball player, you have to be skilled in certain ways. Tennis, hockey, you can name the sport. But in football, all you have to really be is tough. All you have to be is willing, want to mix it up and be part of the team. Nobody’s looked back and said they regretted being on the high school football team. Most, 99.9 percent.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to