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NFL Makes Pass Interference Non-Calls Reviewable

The NFL owners voted on Tuesday evening to approve a rule proposal that allows for offensive and defensive pass interference, including non-calls, to be subject to review.

Coaches can challenge those calls in the first 28 minutes of each half. In the final two minutes of each half, those calls will be subject to a booth review.

This rule change is only for the 2019 season.

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34 comments, Last at 04 Apr 2019, 12:00pm

4 Re: NFL Makes Pass Interference Non-Calls Reviewable

I hope I'm wrong, but I only see this detracting from the game as a spectacle. More stoppages, painstaking delays as referees go under the hood, and probably an uptick in PI penalties overall as more marginal calls go to the offence upon forensic analysis of which split-second the defender arrived.

My preference for PI would be to reduce the severity of the penalty (in most cases) by making it a 10 or 15 yarder, which would lessen the impact of the most egregiously thrown flags without the risk of spoiling the game as a spectacle. Blown non-calls would remain, but overall I believe most fans don't want to see more PI penalties, so we can live it.

6 Re: NFL Makes Pass Interference Non-Calls Reviewable

Going "under the hood" is exactly the problem! I couldn't have come up with a stupider way to do replay if I had a team to brainstorm with. I'm serious, try it! The only ways to make it worse would be to move the monitor into the locker room movie theater or something. Maybe make the ref change into a special "replay-watching outfit". That would be appropriately dumb!

Of course, the NFL did come up with a way to make replay even stupider last year: instead of having a monitor on a stand, they now have someone whose job it is to hold the monitor up for the ref. Humans cannot stand as motionless as a stand can.

26 Re: NFL Makes Pass Interference Non-Calls Reviewable

"My preference for PI would be to reduce the severity of the penalty (in most cases) by making it a 10 or 15 yarder,"

File this in the list of things I will NEVER understand. The deep pass play is the most exciting (and difficult) in the NFL. In what possible world does it make sense to give a DB who is beaten deep the positive incentive simply to tackle a receive while the ball is in the air, and cut a 50-yard loss/TD to a 10 or 15 yarder?


31 Re: NFL Makes Pass Interference Non-Calls Reviewable

Think about it - in how many situations would it represent positive expected value for a defender to take a guaranteed 15 yard penalty/automatic first down? Deep passes have a very low completion rate, and 15 yards/first down is still a very severe penalty; the defender would have to be very confident the pass was going to be complete before it became value to deliberately interfere. And if the defender is beaten that badly he probably won’t be close enough to interfere anyway.

I’m going to predict it wouldn’t be a big issue - and if it became so, some sort of delineation between ‘accidental’ and ‘flagrant’ PI could be introduced (upon replay of course ;-))

5 Re: NFL Makes Pass Interference Non-Calls Reviewable

Why does the NFL insist on doing things the stupid way? I'm honestly surprised they ever allowed coaches' headsets with transistors instead of vacuum tubes.

Add a sky judge to every ref crew. Let them make calls in real-time, then we get the best of both worlds: accurate officiating, without slowing games down.

15 Re: NFL Makes Pass Interference Non-Calls Reviewable

I think Rugby has a good review system. They have a booth official (the TMO) who can be asked by the ref if there is a problem on a call/noncall or the TMO can call the ref and let them know there may be a problem. The TMO shows the relevant replays on the stadium video screen and they discuss if anything needs to be changed and this discussion is broadcast live.

19 Re: NFL Makes Pass Interference Non-Calls Reviewable

If I recall the Sky Judge is what the NFL had in its original Instant Replay system that ran from late 80s to 90s. It slowed games down so they abandoned and came back with what seem a much better system - two challenges plus opportunity to win a 3rd.

This revised Instant replay seemed ok for the first ten years or so until they decided to instigate "automatic review of all scoring plays, turnovers and stuff inside last two mins".

Because at that point they sort of put everything back on the table instead of letting coaches decide when they were going to use their challenges.

(That said, I wouldn't mind a Sky Judge if it were used for blatantly obvious miscalls i.e. so obvious you don't have to watch more than one replay)

9 Re: NFL Makes Pass Interference Non-Calls Reviewable

Agree that all penalties - called and uncalled - should be reviewable. Get the calls right.

CFL's had coach challenges for pass interference, called or uncalled, for a few years. The one learning that the NFL should take away (and CFL, too, as this mostly comes from one of TSN's announcers, Duane Ford I think) is: NO SLO-MO.

Review the play, but review it in real time. If it's not pass interference in real time, it's good defence.

The only reviews that should be slowed down to slo-mo are ball crossing the goal line, whether a first down was reached, and of course everyone's favourite catch/no catch.

10 Re: NFL Makes Pass Interference Non-Calls Reviewable

Yup, I agree with all of that plus DPI should be a 15 yard penalty not spot. If a corner back or safety is smart enough to DPI a sure 45 yard catch to give up 15 yards, that's football. Good on them. Oh, and if a D-holding or DPI is not enough to gain a first down then it shouldn't be automatic. Again, it's football!

23 Re: NFL Makes Pass Interference Non-Calls Reviewable

No slow-mo is a nonstarter.

The networks have slow mo. People have DVRs with slow mo. The only thing reviews with no slow-mo would ensure is tons of plays that everyone but the refs know are wrong being reviewed and still being wrong.

Calls being obviously wrong is a bigger problem than the game going long.

11 Re: NFL Makes Pass Interference Non-Calls Reviewable

Going against the majority - I hate this!

Reviews should be removed from the game entirely. The game is, for me, entertainment. Things that are entertaining - watching people play football. Things that are not entertaining - watching people watching people play football. More of the first thing, less of the second thing.

12 Re: NFL Makes Pass Interference Non-Calls Reviewable

This is going to open up a HUGE can of worms.

Yes, the officials blew the call in the NFC Championship. But for every mistake that's that egregious, there are hundreds of close calls. So, now we'll have more long reviews.

This will be the first kind of replay where judgment is involved about whether contact was incidental or not. (And the definition of when someone from my favorite team hits an opponent, it's incidental, but when the guy from my team is hit, it's a penalty, won't work.) If the league wants to keep doing this, they're going to have to come up with an ironclad definition of interference similar to the way they had to redefine the catch, which is probably still an ongoing process.

I'm not enthusiastic about sitting in the cold waiting for New York to decide if a play constitutes interference. Let's hope I'm wrong and it's not the mess I think it's going to be.

13 Re: NFL Makes Pass Interference Non-Calls Reviewable

I guess either I'm mssing something, because I don't understand the uproar.

The coaches are still limited to two plus a conditional challenge during the game, correct? And not in the final two minutes in each half? Do we think that the Coaches are going to risk using a challenge on a frivolous PI situation and not having a challenge available for the potential critical fumble call or bad spot challenges?

So maybe in the fourth quarter the losing coach might get desperate and throw a red hankie, but I don't think the replay is going to be longer than those catch/non catch reviews, where the official has to look at the feet from multiple angles and then whether the ball moves from multiple angles and stitch things together. Either a defender prevented the receiver from making the catch or he didn't.

To paraphrase what is often said of the U.S. Justice system, it is better to have a hundred non-PIs be reviewed and upheld than for one team and its fan base be denied an opportunity to play in the Super Bowl.

22 Re: NFL Makes Pass Interference Non-Calls Reviewable

Thank you, dryheat, for stating the obvious--you still only get 2 challenges! (3 if you're right)
To me, the other positive about this is the one-year experiment part of it. If it's a bad thing, they'll get rid of it.
Also, I'd be willing to bet that the directive from the NFL/Riveron/etc. will be "if there's not clear evidence to change the call, let it stand."

The problem with replay before they automatically reviewed scores and turnovers was that those were the plays that teams/coaches/fans wanted to review--because they greatly affect the game-winning probability. And rightfully so! So, when a dumb coach was out of challenges, an obviously incorrect call that materially affected the game could not be reviewed. And the outcry from fans from so many fanbases was--"why aren't we fixing and incorrect call that is so blatantly obvious and affects the winner of the game?" Now, they are just going further down that path. Hopefully, coaches will be smarter about challenging frivolous plays so save their 2 challenges for stuff that really matters--although that helps dumber coaches do their jobs better.

I'm sure somebody will track it, so I am going to put my guess on the line: over/under on PI calls overturned VIA CHALLENGE FLAGS (for the regular season only) will be 35. Maybe another 15 in the last 2 minutes of a half.

24 Re: NFL Makes Pass Interference Non-Calls Reviewable

Not to mention, those long PI calls already take 2 or 3 minutes because they have to move 20+ guys 50 yards downfield, teams substitute because the game situation just changed drastically, etc.

The booth can probably have the play reviewed in most cases before they'd be ready to start the next one.

14 Re: NFL Makes Pass Interference Non-Calls Reviewable

One unintended conseuqence I can see is an issue similar to baseball's review process, where now a player who loses contact with the bag for a microsecond is now ruled out (provided the fielder holds the tag) due to the slo-mo replay.

18 Re: NFL Makes Pass Interference Non-Calls Reviewable

I've been finding myself watching less football the last few seasons, and I'm think this be the shove that pushes me over the line into just not bother to carve out time for football anymore. The trend is constantly more replay, more penalties, less actual football. You know that awful feeling when your team gets a big third-down stop but a late flag comes out? Now you can look forward to that occurring even retroactively, that right before the snap for the punt there can be a challenge flag and an interminable review about exactly how much force the corner applied with that hand he had on the receiver. It already feels sometimes like the games are decided by penalties and instant replay and lawyering the details of the rulebook; leave it to the NFL to keep pushing the sport further and further down that path.

25 Re: NFL Makes Pass Interference Non-Calls Reviewable

I'm a big fan of replay in theory, but not in practice, and I'm afraid this is just going to be more of the same. The problem is that replay is not being used in the way that it was originally intended. The original purpose of replay involved two things: giving the refs a chance to correct calls that were obviously wrong, and giving them a better look at the "too close to call" plays. Unfortunately, with the advent of the "booth review" process, they have added a third "goal" of replay: going over every big play with a fine-toothed comb, looking for some nitpicking reason to overturn it. This not only slows down the game, it makes big plays anticlimactic -- you're actually afraid to cheer a big play when it happens, because you have to wait for it to be reviewed, and makes sure it holds up. And it actually adds controversy, because the decision of whether to instigate a "booth review" in the final two minutes is totally arbitrary.

I would like to see them make two changes: First, make all plays reviewable. PI, holding, etc. are no more "judgment calls" than the spotting of the ball is. Second, and more important, scrap the booth review (including within the last two minutes), and go back to the old challenge system, with the following rules: Each team gets two challenges, with a third one if the game goes to OT. However, successful challenges don't count against you. So, the only way a coach could be out of challenges is if he makes at least two unsuccessful challenges. In that case, he really has no one but himself to blame, and the same goes for the fans. If they're mad that they didn't get a chance to challenge a key play at the end of the game, blame the coach for wasting his challenges on frivolous stuff. This, IMO, would be much better than the arbitrary "booth review" process.

33 Re: NFL Makes Pass Interference Non-Calls Reviewable

Completely agree.
The "make sure we get it right" is anticlimactic and arbitrary. A td in the opening drive is as many points as in the final two minutes.
Its a symptom of lawyers running this league.
I would live it if they skip the booth review altogether. Make it part of the game and part of a coaches job to use challenges wisely.