Let me preface this by saying, even though I consider myself someone that kind of walks the line between the old school mentality and the new school mentality (began watching Buckeye football when I was about 11 or 12 thanks to the good graces of discovering who the super-human Eddie George was). When I began watching football it was crop-tops, big neck-rolls for the linebackers, loose fitting jerseys, and hard hits were just a part of the game as player safety had not yet become the hot-button issue it is today.
That being said, in 2019 (almost 2020, happy New Year to all my fellow 11w'ers) I am 100% all for anything that improves player safety, gives them an opportunity to add years to their career, anything that calls attention to issues paramount to player safety that may have been ignored by the powers that be... all of those things are issues I feel are important and if they come up with something that is evidence based that makes the game safer, by all means, bring it on.
The targeting rule is one of those examples that I do think, given what we know now about CTE/concussions/long-term neck/spine issues, was a positive addition to the safety of the game itself. That said, a lot is lacking in the communication, development, and implementation of that rule and the consistency in which it is applied.
When I go back and watch Shaun Wade's targeting penalty in the replay (as the officials did, more on that later), I can see cause to throw a flag based off of one issue, leading with the crown of the helmet. In that scenario I didn't interpret them throwing that flag because they viewed Lawrence as being defenseless, to me I felt like they threw that flag because Wade somewhat recklessly lead on the tackle with the crown of his helmet and was in danger of more so injuring himself than Lawrence. Obviously Lawrence got crunched by Chase Young in conjunction, but to me, when I watch that play I felt like Wade's safety was much more in jeopardy than that of Trevor Lawrence.
The problem I have with the whole thing was the fact that the play happened, yes somewhat in a bang-bang fashion, but the penalty wasn't called in real-time. In regards to targeting and player safety I don't necessarily have a problem with them calling the penalty retroactively, but how in the hell can you toss a player if you didn't catch the penalty in real-time? When you see an offensive lineman grab Chase Young by his waist and dosie-doe him in a completely illegal hold in a replay they're not retroactively throwing a flag then.
I know targeting and holding are different animals, and as I said, if they want to call targeting retroactively via replay I can stomach that, but in no way should it result in the player being ejected.
I think they could modify the rule as such and make it a "2-type" foul sort of like roughing the kicker.
Type 1: It's a targeting penalty where the flag is thrown in real-time as the play occurs. In this situation they review the play, if it was found to be targeting the player is thrown out and the team is penalized as a personal foul.
Type 2: It's a targeting penalty that was missed in real-time but was caught in the replay booth after the fact. In this case you still penalize the team with a personal foul, and as in the case of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, you give that player a warning and a second foul will result in a DQ and then you apply the rule as far as them playing in the next game or not.
Just my take, and again, 100% for anything that ensures that players can have the best possible quality of life after football, but if the referees on the field miss the call in real-time, I don't see that as being grounds to remove the player from the game.