Polian, Patriots, hits to head & fines

Player fines and hits to the head have become a hot-button topic this week, specifically with Ravens safety Ed Reed having his one-game suspension overturned (link here). Along these lines, there was an interesting discussion on Sirius XM NFL Radio on Tuesday night’s “Late Hits” program with co-hosts Jim Miller and Bill Polian, and it included a Patriots twist.

Polian, the former Colts president who has long had involvement with NFL rules and points of emphasis as a member of the NFL’s competition committee, had a suggestion for a possible rule change.

“My solution is to go to the college rule, which says ‘anywhere, anytime on the field, you may not target the head of an opponent. … It’s a foul, no questions asked. It removes lots of gray areas, I think," Polian said, also laying out a stage-based structure for fines that ranged from $25,000 to $200,000 while calling for more NFL transparency on the announcement of fines.

This is one of the tricky areas when it comes to this topic. Defenders might not target the head, but sometimes, contact is made regardless.

That is how Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes, for example, saw his penalty/fine against Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on Nov. 11. Spikes was rushing and made helmet-to-helmet contact with Fitzpatrick, although Spikes felt he wouldn’t have made contact had Fitzpatrick not lowered his head at the last moment.

Still, Spikes was fined $25,000.

Who is right here? Contact was made, but what responsibility does the offensive player have?

That was discussed by Miller and Polian in the Sirius XM NFL Radio interview. Later, Polian also shared his opinion that the Patriots had multiple hits to the head against the Colts on Nov. 18 that weren’t penalized. He wondered if perhaps there was a pattern with the Patriots, pointing out that the club also was penalized for a hit to the head the week before (perhaps some of that old Colts-Patriots bad blood in play here).

Using this as a springboard, here is a look at the Patriots’ fines this year (as announced by the NFL), which seem to be in line with other NFL clubs:

at Titans


vs. Cardinals

LB Jerod Mayo -- $21,000 (defenseless WR)

S Steve Gregory -- $7,875 (late hit)

at Ravens


at Bills

LB Brandon Spikes -- $21,000 (illegal blindside block on TE Scott Chandler)

vs. Broncos


at Seahawks


vs. Jets


at Rams


vs. Bills

LB Brandon Spikes -- $25,000 (roughing passer)

LB Jerod Mayo -- $10,000 (late hit on RB C.J. Spiller)

CB Alfonzo Dennard -- $7,875 (unnecessary roughness)

vs. Colts