John Harbaugh: Terrell Suggs Character Questions 'Crossed The Line'

Two days later, Terrell Suggs' hit on Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford is still a hot topic.

Head Coach John Harbaugh was happy that NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino sided with Suggs, saying the hit was legal because it was a read-option play.

Harbaugh is not happy, however, with some of the comments made by the Eagles players after Saturday's game.

Left tackle Jason Peters told Eagles reporters that Suggs was "trying to take a cheap shot" and Bradford said Suggs intentionally went at his surgically repaired knees. Center Jason Kelce said he didn’t think Suggs did anything malicious.

"As I read most of the Eagles' quotes, I thought they understood the play. One or two of them didn't understand the play," Harbaugh said.

"When you start popping off about somebody's character, you've crossed the line. That's not really something that we respect. But most of those guys understood the play and understood that [No.] 55 was playing hard and trying to get it stopped."

The read-option offense is specifically designed to fake the defense into thinking the quarterback could carry the ball. Thus, Suggs reacted as if Bradford may keep it. Instead, Bradford handed it off a split second before Suggs arrived.

"[The rule is] very clear," Harbaugh said. "Three years ago, my brother [former 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh] brought it up and tried to get the quarterback deemed a passer in that situation. He's not a passer; he's a runner, and everybody knows that. [Suggs] played it exactly as we were coaching them to play it at that time."

On Saturday night, Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly said he didn't see the play live. On Monday, Kelly was asked about it again and had a lot to say.

Since the hit, Kelly has come under scrutiny for putting Bradford, who missed all of last season with a second major knee injury, in harm's way during the quarterback's preseason debut. Now Kelly is defending his play-calling, saying it wasn't a zone-read run.

"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 everyone thinks we do. I thought the interpretation on the field was correct.

"I know our quarterbacks can get hit on a read-option play, but not every run we have is a read-option run. We run sweep, power, counter, trap – all of those things out of the gun. … Everyone in the league runs shotgun runs. Are they going to hit every quarterback in the league when they hand off in the shotgun? That's up to the league. I think it would be troubling for the league if every quarterback in the shotgun can be hit."

Kelly went on to say that "Sam wasn't going anywhere."

But it's impossible for Suggs to know the Eagles' play-call. And it's clear watching the replay that Bradford had his eyes on Suggs as he closed on the play, indicating that he was reading Suggs.

Bradford tried to jump out of Suggs' way after the handoff and the linebacker said he "eased up." Suggs didn't appear to be going full speed when he hit Bradford with his arm.

Referee Jerome Boger threw the flag on Suggs, calling it roughing the passer. According to Blandino, that was the wrong call.

"There's rust there too," Harbaugh said of the referees. "It's part of the preseason. They weren't any worse than we were, I'll tell you that. He can look back at me and say, 'Coach, you're not doing so well yourself here.'"

Harbaugh joked, "I'm sure we'll have no wrong calls during the whole season. They'll probably be 100 percent on that."

This Saturday, the Ravens will face another team that runs the read-option offense – in Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins. Linebackers Coach Ted Monachino said the Ravens could take a different strategy in defending the play this week, but didn't fault Suggs.

"It didn't surprise me the way Terrell reacted to the play as he saw it. It didn't surprise me that there was a lot of noise around the nation around it and it also didn't surprise me Dean Blandino's response to all that noise," Monachino said.

"We understand what we ask our guys to do in that situation and I think he did it exactly the way we would want it."

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