- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Almost two weeks ago, after being called for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Chicago quarterback Josh McCown, Willie Young voiced his displeasure with the current rules on where you could hit players.
Mostly, that something needed to change, because in the high speed world of the NFL, calls protecting quarterbacks and offensive players were starting to become an issue for where defensive players were able to hit.
At the time, Young said the players should meet after the season to discuss the issue. When Young was asked this week about the Ahmad Brooks' hit on Drew Brees, which led to the NFL Nation Says question of whether quarterbacks are being too protected by the league, Young was still passionate in his defense of the defense.
Brooks’ hit, which he was fined for, was unintentional and happened during a regular play. For instance, on Young’s play where he was fined, he said he was going for the ball as McCown released it.
“Every defensive player feels the same way when they see another defensive player get fined on something like that, in that case or scenario,” Young said. “Every defensive lineman feels the same way, like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ You know what I’m saying, you’ve got to be for real.”
Young, who was fined for the hit on McCown, is still hoping the players are able to meet in the offseason to discuss the rules and what can change, but he said that it has changed a lot in the game.
And it isn’t just with quarterbacks. Young said with the way Detroit’s front four aggressively goes after the quarterback, it makes the rules somewhat difficult, and that when you hit a quarterback when you're trying to make a correct tackle, if a guy moves, it could become an issue.
“It’s all the kind of ways you can and can’t approach guys now,” Young said. “It just makes it so awkward.”
He isn’t the only Lions player who has noticed this.
Defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who was also fined against the Bears, said the Detroit defensive linemen were discussing these topics recently. His opinion? The rules are making them play smarter.
“We were just like, 'they just making us play fundamental football,'” Fairley said. “We can’t just be out there all wild and everywhere. They are really making you just play fundamental football.”
The problem comes in games, when everything is going fast and the main goal is to reach the quarterback or running back and disrupt the play. Then, he said, is when problems occur.
“That’s when the fines come out,” Fairley said. “Sometimes you’ll be in the heat of the game, heat of the moment and you go out and make a boneheaded play, but that’s the part of being a professional.
“You’ve got to exit those plays out of the game.”