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The Dolphins say the NFL’s roughing the passer penalty is to blame for William Hayes’ ACL tear

Hayes says his season-ending injury happened because he was trying to avoid a penalty while sacking Derek Carr.

Oakland Raiders v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

William Hayes’ 2018 season with the upstart 3-0 Miami Dolphins was off to a good start until it ended abruptly Sunday.

Early in the second quarter against the Oakland Raiders, Hayes burst through the middle of the offensive line to smother Derek Carr. It was the second sack of the season for Hayes. It was also his last sack of the season because he suffered a torn ACL on the play.

The circumstances of the injury warrant a closer look, because after the game Dolphins coach Adam Gase said the league’s new roughing the passer rules are to blame.

Hayes didn’t speak to the media after the game, but according to Gase, the Dolphins defensive lineman was injured because he tried not to land on Carr with his full weight, which is now illegal under the language of the rule.

“He was trying to not put body weight on the quarterback,” Gase said, via the Miami Sun-Sentinel. “His foot got caught in the ground.”

Here’s the play in question:

And here’s another angle:

The part of the play under the microscope is Hayes kicking out his right leg on the way to the ground. Whether that was an intentional act or normal part of the play, the Dolphins are saying the move was a result of Hayes making an effort to comply with the rule.

It’s a theory Carr seems to support, because he said he’d rather a player land on him than get injured trying not to.

The Dolphins say the rule change has forced the team to practice new ways to bring down the quarterback.

It’s hard to make conclusions based on the video alone. Even if it was an act to avoid a penalty, it’s possible that a knee injury could’ve happened if he tried to drop his full weight on Carr. But Miami is standing by the explanation offered by Hayes.

The NFL’s new roughing the passer penalty has been problematic, illogical, and difficult for players to follow. Whether or not the rule led to Hayes’ injury, it has caused plenty of confusion and chaos, which could have been anticipated.