The NFL can review pass interference penalties in 2019 — and Steelers cornerback Joe Haden is pumped about this change.
"The game has changed so much from my rookie year  when we could put hands on people," Haden was telling Rich Eisen on a recent episode of The Rich Eisen Show. "You could low-tug. Now you just have to really, legitimately mirror them. It's an offensive league. I love [Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin] because he understands that we're at the disadvantage. We really just have to really work feet, really just try to mirror the receivers."
Haden personally has been victimized by pass interference penalties in recent years, none more striking than the two he received last season in the Steelers' 31-28 loss to the Saints in New Orleans. The loss moved the Steelers to 8-6-1 and contributed to their postseason-less run.
Both plays extended Saints drives, allowed crucial fourth-down conversions and resulted in touchdowns. Now, with pass interference reviewable, Haden sees that as a benefit as much for defenses as it is for offenses — if not more.
"It's been switchin' for the last three years, so I think this is — I think it might help us out a little bit," Haden said. "They may be giving us a little bit more [offensive pass interference]. Because offense, they do get away with a lot more than we do. I think this honestly will help us out a little bit.
"We understand, we've been switching it up for the last four, five years where you really just can't touch those dudes. So if they're looking at it and seeing that, 'Man, actually the receiver was pushing off on him,' maybe we might be able to get a couple calls."
Following that discussion, Eisen asked Haden to pick the three toughest receivers to cover in the NFL. He went with a classic trio.
"It's three for me. It was [Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr. and Julio Jones]," Haden said. "[Jones] can do everything. He's big, strong, fast, route running ... It's just him. He's 6-[foot]-4, 220 pounds running a 4.3. And they don't make them like that."
Where Brown, Haden's former teammate who was recently traded to the Raiders, is concerned, Haden offered the following.
"He's so quick," Haden said. "His releases, his route running, his ability to adjust to the ball in the air, and then if you have him covered with the first route, his scramble drill — he's able to just run another route. I think with him and [Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger], the connection with Ben being able to just create more time, and AB could just get open at all times."