During an appearance on NFL Network on Monday morning, Dean Blandino, the league's vice president of officiating, said Terrell Suggs' hit on Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford on Saturday should not have been a penalty.
"If the quarterback has an option (to run), he's considered a runner until he either clearly doesn't have the football or he re-establishes himself as a passer,'' Blandino said.
A little while later, Eagles coach Chip Kelly held his scheduled news conference and pointed out that the play, in which Bradford handed the ball off to Darren Sproles out of the shotgun and then was hit in the legs by the unblocked Suggs, was not a zone-read play.
"It was just a handoff,'' Kelly said. "Not every shotgun run is a zone-read play. We didn't run any zone reads. We don't run as much zone-read as everybody thinks we do. I mean, we're blocking the backside. But he's not reading anything. He's just handing the ball off.''
Kelly said he felt the roughing-the-passer call by referee Jerome Boger's crew was correct. "I thought it was a penalty and I thought Jerome Boger called it right.''
The problem is, according to Blandino, it doesn't seem to matter what the intent was. Until the quarterback clearly gets rid of the ball, it's open season on him, zone-read or no zone-read.
Kelly said he has not talked to anyone from the league about the play.
Before Kelly's noon news conference, Eagles director of public relations Derek Boyko told Kelly what Blandino had said about the hit.
"But he said it was a read-option play, and it wasn't a read-option play," Kelly said of Blandino. "I know our quarterbacks can be hit on a read-option play. But not every run we have is a read-option run.
"I mean, we run sweep, power, counter, trap, all those things out of the (shot) gun.''
Asked whether he was concerned that officials could easily mistake shotgun handoffs like Bradford's to Darren Sproles for a read-option play, Kelly said, "No. I mean, everybody in the league runs shotgun runs.''
Kelly reiterated that the Eagles don't really run a lot of zone-read plays:
"We don't run it more than Seattle. We don't run it more than San Francisco. We don't run it as much as you guys think we run it.''
And yet, the league's head of officiating watched the play several times and thought it was a zone-read play.
"The only people we've run zone-read with this offseason has been Timmy (Tebow),'' Kelly said.
"From what we were told (by the league), if your quarterback isn't carrying out any fake (he can't be hit),''
Kelly pointed out that, in the eight games Nick Foles started last season, he had just 16 rushing attempts and two scrambles.
Asked whether he was concerned that more defensive players are going to be targeting Bradford's twice-repaired left knee, Kelly said, "Everybody in this league knows what people have for injuries. So if that's what their choice is, that's what their choice is.''
Kelly said there's not much he can do to further protect Bradford, aside from hope that the officials develop a better understanding of the difference between a zone-read and a shotgun handoff.
"We could put him in a glass case,'' Kelly said. "I mean, he has to go out and play football. We didn't call any designed runs for Sam.''
Kelly said it would be "troubling for the league'' if every quarterback in the shotgun is allowed to be hit.
Kelly did not seem to think he needed to have a conversation with Blandino.
"We know the rules,'' he said. "If our quarterback hands the ball off and isn't going anywhere, you shouldn't be able to hit him. That's the way the rule has been explained to us.
"If they want to get into that, they can get into that. But then every other quarterback in the league, when they get back in the shotgun, can be hit when they hand the ball off. If that's what they want to do, then we'll all have to adjust. Because everybody in the league has runs out of the shotgun.''