The Elephant in the Locker Room: Boykin, Hail Mary, and Roughing the Passer
By Greg Wright
After two Super Bowl appearances in a row, everyone’s paying attention… yet even with all the scrutiny, it seems that there’s always some key issue that’s getting glossed over. It’s the elephant in the locker room, if you will, and gosh darn if I’ll let that ride. Join us weekly for a little closer look at our NFC West Champions.
What’s a Boykin?
I’m glad that rookie backup QB Trevone Boykin did something spectacular on Saturday afternoon. If he hadn’t, I’d have looked pretty silly writing about him this week.
I find it very odd that so many Boykins have been popping up in the NFL in recent years.
Jarrett Boykin (no relation to Trevone) first popped up on my radar (and on Aaron Rodgers’ radar) when injuries and free agency depleted the Packers’ wide receiver corps during the 2013 season–and the former UDFA Jarrett became a legitimate bye-week pickup for a lot of Fantasy team owners. Then in 2015 I read that Pittsburgh had signed former 4th-rounder Brandon Boykin (unrelated to either Jarrett or Trevone), a defensive back who had made his NFL debut with Philly.
When the Seahawks announced they’d signed the undrafted record-setting QB from TCU following this year’s draft, I thought, “Huh. That’s a lot of Boykins bouncing around.”
So what’s a Boykin?
Well, first thing is pronunciation. Broadcasters had better stop saying “Boinkin’,” cuz that’s something else entirely.
And they’d better stay away from “Doinkin’,” cuz John Madden might sue them for trademark infringement.
Second thing is: a “Boykin” is not a little male child. Trevone Boykin, in particular, is 6 feet of hard-nosed football player, fully capable of getting arrested after landing a punch on a cop during a bar fight. He’s also capable of leading a pretty mean 2-minute drill in preseason, which is a lot more than one could say for Matt Flynn, Charlie Whitehurst, Tarvaris Jackson, or just about any other backup-hopeful we’ve seen in town in recent years.
In other words, “Boykin” just might mean “Keeper.”
What’s a Hail Mary?
Well, what Trevone Boykin and Tanner McEvoy did with zero time left on the clock at the end of the game Saturday was NOT a Hail Mary.
When Aaron Rodgers throws a Hail Mary pass, this is what the end zone looks like:
And, as you may recall, when Russell Wilson throws a Hail Mary, this is what the end zone looks like:
When Tanner McEvoy went up to catch Boykin’s pass, this is what the end zone looked like:
This is what you call “a completed pass.” By contrast a “Hail Mary” is a called play designed to bunch up “good hands” receivers in the endzone hoping to catch a deflection–or, in the cases I used above, hoping to just catch the ball outright. And on a Hail Mary play, the defense counters by also bunching up sure-handed DBs (and often wide receivers!) to box out the play and intercept the ball or bat it away.
Now, to be fair–what everyone was expecting with about 20 seconds left in the game, the clock running, the Hawks down by 7, and no timeouts left, was that Boykin would get the team up to the line of scrimmage and spike the ball, leaving enough time for two plays to get the remaining 37 yards to the endzone. If the first of those plays went incomplete, then Bevell would call a Hail Mary for Boykin.
Instead, Boykin got the team to the line of scrimmage… and proceeded to call a play as the clock ticked inexorably down. Trusting his instincts (and apparently using the latitude given him by Bevell and Carroll), Boykin got the 6’6″ McEvoy into a favorable matchup against a smaller DB and sent him to the endzone while the other receivers ran underneath routes.
To be clear, this is NOT a Hail Mary formation.
And to be equally clear, what this did was prevent KC from substituting on the defensive side of the ball, keeping the Chiefs on their heels.
Totally unexpected, totally unorthodox, and totally successful.
NOT a Hail Mary.
And What’s Roughing the Passer?
Apparently not this:
Sorry, just had to get this off my chest. If Von Miller had done this to just about any other QB in a Super Bowl, this would have been a “personal foul, blow to the head” penalty on Miller and a first down for the QB’s team. At the very least a facemask violation. Instead, it turned into a TD for the Broncos and the rout was on.
Please note how Miller’s right hand makes first contact with Newton in the facemask, hooking it with his thumb and driving Newton’s head to his left, and then jerking it back to the right as Miller grabs hold.
To be fair, Michael Bennett probably has no problem with this non-call… other than the fact the he never gets non-calls like Miller’s. And I was glad that Newton didn’t proceed to whine about it.
But I sure would have liked to see Newton at least protest, and then recover his composure. Instead he went into “no one respects me” mode and relapsed into a classic Newton sulk. Very disappointing. Made me eat my words about the Panthers being “for real.”