Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

05 Dec 2013

Allow Coaches to Challenge Everything?

Bill Belichick asked in his Tuesday conference call with reporters: Why not allow coaches to challenge any call they want, including penalties? It's an interesting idea. I would certainly like to see DPI as reviewable, given how many games turn on those big gains. Belichick's point is that if you still allow coaches only two challenges, allowing them to challenge a wider variety of calls won't lead to chaos, because there still are only two challenges. (Well, three if you get the first two right.)

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 05 Dec 2013

69 comments, Last at 22 Jan 2014, 3:10am by Pandora Beads Sale


by MJK :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 12:18am

I would be fine with allowing coaches to challenge more things... maybe almost everything... But some things that are purely a judgment call that look different in real time versus slow motion, maybe not. For example, I would NOT allow them to challenge DPI. (The way to fix that is to adopt the college rule that it is a maximum of 15 yards, not a spot foul).

What I would like to see is the ridiculous "you get two, except sometimes you get three, and you don't get any in the last two minutes, but the booth can initiate challenges then, and some things are automatically reviewed, but not others" rule changed. It's unnecessarily complicated, places weird incentives or disincentives on your challenging strategy, and penalizes teams in games where the refs just keep screwing up. I would rather see it replaced by a system where there are NO automatic or booth initiated reviews, coaches have unlimited challenges, but can only challenge as long as they have timeouts remaining...and they lose the timeout if they lose the challenge.

by RickD :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 12:31am

I don't see a good reason to allow penalties to be challenged if DPI isn't one of them. (I mean, penalties other than "too many men on the field", which is currently challengeable.) As for "real time vs. slow motion", there is no physical law the prevents replays from being run at full speed, or indeed at any speed the replay official wants to use.

Coaches would have to know that any challenge of a penalty is very likely to fail. But when DPI, or holding, or unnecessary roughness is called on a play where it obviously shouldn't be, I don't see why that shouldn't be fixable.

by Bobman :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 1:14am

I'm on board with RickD and BB. (and I don't say that too often)

It's certainly worth trying. I'd love to see a DPI overturned because, on second look, the WR was just as guilty of pushing off. Or even a dead-ball personal foul when the second hitter is flagged--review the entire sequence and flag the instigator as well. That'll show 'em.

Hey, could they then review a "clean play" in which the D coach thinks the WR pushed off? i.e. could you review a clean play to have a penalty called? That would be weird, but, I think, just. Plenty of TDs where the WR pushes off, the defender ends up falling away from the play (pretty obvious) but because the ref is watching other aspects of the play, it's a TD.

I know all scoring plays are reviewed, but don't think they would reverse because of an uncalled foul. Only for uncalled illegal touching, receiver OB, did he fumble or cross the plane, etc)

With a limited number of reviews, I see no problems with that.

by Scott Crowder (not verified) :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 2:12am

I've always thought that and am glad to see someone in the NFL finally saying it.

by CBPodge :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 5:39am

On the "clean play" thing, I think you'd have to say that scoring plays are reviewed as they are currently, but if a coach thinks his DE was held or something, then he could challenge that specific part of the play. So the scoring review would basically check the receiver was in bounds and in possession, while the coaches challenge would look at the hold.

by Dennis :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 7:48pm

My thinking is if all scoring plays are automatically reviewed, then plays that would result in a score with a different call should be automatically reviewed as well. For example, a receiver making a catch along the sideline in the endzone. If the original call is a catch for a TD, it is reviewed. If the original call is out of bounds, the coach has to challenge it. Whether the play is automatically reviewed shouldn't depend on what the original call is.

by tuluse :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 8:00pm

Any play *could* result in a TD with a different call.

by Purds :: Sat, 12/07/2013 - 1:35am

"I'm on board with RickD and BB. (and I don't say that too often)"

Bobman, step back from the ledge, slowly, slowly. The Colts will be good again some day. Don't give up your loyalties yet!

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 10:04am

I've been saying the Challenge=Timeout thing for a long time, and I truly think its the best way to go.

A team shouldn't be penalized because the refs screw up more than 3 calls badly.

by Noah Arkadia :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 10:45am

I agree about slow motion. In certain review situations, DPI, roughing the passer, maybe refs should only be allowed to look at different angles in real time. That would take care of it for me.

The man with no sig

by Theo :: Sat, 12/07/2013 - 8:30pm

so you'd give them the opportunity to look at it again with the technology of instant replay, but not with the technology of slow motion to look at it better?
Slow mo gives you the opportunity to see where the ball is when the knee hits the ground, or to see if the ball was under control.

The difference in judgement from real time to slow mo is different because slow mo is better. So use it!

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 12:23pm

DPI is one of the few penalties that is currently challengeable!

You can challenge whether a pass was tipped at the line, which negates a downfield DPI -- because PI cannot happen after a deflection.

by Theo :: Sat, 12/07/2013 - 8:39pm

If you can re-watch it and it doesn't seem to be DPI because the defender didn't touch him... I'd say make it challangeble.

Another point for allowing DPI challenges is because it's:
1: one of the rules in the game that have the biggest impact on the outcome.
2: is the most debated because the ref gets it wrong too many times (according to the defending team)

It's a judgement call, yes, so it's better to make a judgement on more evidence than less.
This clinging to nostalgia of 'ref judgement' is just unnecessarily thinking that old = better.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 2:59am

This is one of those things that sounds nice in theory, but is totally impractical. Right at the outset of even thinking about it, you realize something awful: Coaches being allowed to challenge judgment calls means that they would also be able to challenge judgment non-calls. Yes, that's all we need: the game getting stopped on every play because an OL obviously held or a DB contacted the receiver 5.25 yards beyond the line of scrimmage or an OL was 1.25 yards beyond the line on a screen pass (and on and on and on), but it wasn't called.

So to make this a less ludicrous thought experiment in terms of practicality, I'll assume coaches would only be able to challenge penalties that actually had a flag thrown. Even then, it's still impractical for a couple of reasons.

First, for penalties like PI, holding, RTP, defenseless receiver, etc., almost every judgment is going to be technically correct by the letter of the law. The vast, vast majority of the time, we (and coaches) are pissed at these calls because we thought they were "ticky tack," for lack of a better term. But refs are trained from their first day in Pop Warner that "you don't call what you don't see" AKA "don't guess." Before the flag comes out, the ref's processed the visual information, and deemed that there was illegal action according to rule book criteria X, Y, and Z. On DPI for instance, one of the illegal actions is "contact by a defender who is not playing the ball and such contact restricts the receiver’s opportunity to make the catch." Whether Marv Levy or I think it was a chickens*** call doesn't change the fact that such a thing occurs virtually every time there's a flag for DPI. So what's going to happen in Belichick's world is that he'll challenge, there will be a review, the head ref will see something -- no matter how minute -- that met the criteria for DPI, and the call will stand. (The league's tortured-but-technically-true "action started below the head/neck, but then rode up such that the head/neck was involved" explanation for Ahmad Brooks' game-changing RTP against Drew Brees comes to mind here.)

Nevermind the fact that you're asking a human being to show up his crew mate (and friend) or admit his own mistake in real time in front of millions of people. It's one thing to have the head ref overturn a fumble because his buddy was being asked to look at a knee and a ball at the same time. It's quite another to have him basically say, "I think your knowledge and/or interpretation of the rule book, which forms the basis of your qualifications for this job, is crap."

Which brings me to the second facet of my impracticality argument. There's a reason why certain plays are challengeable and others aren't: The ones that are challengeable relate to concrete physical phenomena. The ball did or did not cross the plane. The knee was or was not down before the ball came out. The ball did or did not hit the ground before the catch. The receiver's second foot was or was not in bounds. When the runner's forward progress was stopped, the ball was here or it was there. Whether or not the ref saw it, the ref saw it incorrectly, or video evidence will prove it definitively is superfluous to the fact that one of those things did objectively occur.

In contrast, judgment calls aren't challengeable because they're abstractions created by human beings. Challengeable plays are medicine, physics, and biology; unchallengeable plays are sociology, the humanities, and psychology. (I say that as someone with two psychology degrees, so not trying to start a war among academics here.) Was that contact illegal? Well, according to the competition committee's current definition, it was illegal. According to my current definition, it was legal. Accord to your current definition, it could go either way. According to Marv Levy's definition, it was chicken****. And maybe we all change our minds six months from now.

There might be a few exceptions to the generalities I'm saying here -- it's late, so my memory might not be working optimally -- but I think they hold true in the vast, vast majority of cases for which a "coaches can challenge anything" idea would (on the surface, anyway) seem like a good idea.

by CBPodge :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 5:52am

I tend to disagree with this. First of all, you wouldn't get the stoppages every play, because there'd still be a maximum of 6 challenges per game.

I think DPI, as your main example, is problematic, but coaches would pretty quickly realise that there's little chance of winning anything but the most obvious challenge. Your argument about refs having to say "hey, you are wrong" to his colleague currently - on a sideline catch, for example, one official's job is to look at the feet, and the ref will regularly say "yep, that dude was wrong."

I also don't really get the logic that you can't review a play that is a judgement call, because those calls are made on the basis of them being judgement - if you can't review the call based on judgement then you can make an argument that you can't make the call based on judgement.

I do think the biggest one would be to just make unnecessary roughness penalties challengable, because those are largely judgement calls, but are quite regularly definably wrong (the first that springs to mind is Michael Brockers' roughing the passer one against the Bears a couple of weeks back).

I don't really see a problem with letting coaches challenge anything, as long as they understand the rules behind it: if you challenge something stupid, you'll probably lose, so maybe don't bother, yeah?

by Noah Arkadia :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 10:53am

And another thing, the ref who made the call should be involved in the review process, explaining in detail what he saw to the guy making the review. And, for certain penalties, as said above, replays should only be shown at full speed.

The man with no sig

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 11:59am

I don't follow that thinking. Either it's a judgment call and it stands without challenge, or it needs to be able to stand up to video review on its own merits. You'd overturn a call on the field because the replay official or the challenging coach made a more eloquent argument than the guy who threw the flag?

by Dennis :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 7:54pm

The reason you can't challenge a judgement call is because two people can see the play and would call it differently, and both could be correct because there isn't a definitive right call. With non-judgement calls, there is a single correct call - either the receiver caught it or he didn't, the runner was down before the fumble or he wasn't. You don't always have a perfect view of the play to see it definitively, of course.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 9:54pm


By the way, I thought of a call that fits the "objective physical phenomenon" definition of "challengeable" I posited, but nevertheless isn't challengeable (for whatever reason): Delay of game. I think it's absurd that the play clock does, in fact, hit zero at an objectively definable point in time, but coaches can't challenge it because of the ref protocol whereby the back judge has to see the clock hit zero, then look at the ball, and then throw the flag if it still hasn't been snapped yet.

p.s. This is a statement against interest, as SF would no doubt get killed if delay of game was challengeable.

by CBPodge :: Sat, 12/07/2013 - 10:01am

Or even properly enforced.

That's another one that should be fixable by technology - some sort of link between play clock and a buzzer on the ref or something.

by Dennis :: Sat, 12/07/2013 - 12:11pm

Yeah, it floors me that there isn't a buzzer or something audible that goes off when the play clock hits 0.

by Pudds (not verified) :: Sat, 12/07/2013 - 1:41pm

Rather than making delay of game challengable, I'd prefer the refs just wore a buzzer of some sort so they didn't have to try and watch the clock and the snap at the same time.

by CBPodge :: Sat, 12/07/2013 - 10:45am

But then as the series that Peter King just wrote shows, the NFL does definably say what is right and wrong on a judgement call.

I just think that the standard used for overturns on challenges (it has to be obviously wrong) can still be applied to judgement calls, especially those made at full speed from long distance across a crowded field, rather than when viewed from an ideal angle at slow motion.

by PatsFan :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 8:53am

Did you read either Aaron's summary or the transcript of Belichick's press conference?

This was in the context of the currently allowed number of challenges, so your "oh noes! Stoppages every play!" complaint is totally inapplicable.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 9:03am

Yeah, the "stopped every play" thing was addressed a long time ago when they limited the number of challenges.

That said, if you allowed anything to be challengeable, you would see at least 4 challenges per game, every game. Currently, I think it's pretty rare for both coaches to use up all their challenges in a given game. This would probably make it commonplace, and increase the length of a game by about 5-10 minutes. Perhaps eliminating the booth reviews in the final 2 minutes would offset this somewhat. It also might turn the last 2 minutes of a game into an intolerably long slog, as coaches burn through their remaining challenges on things they never would have challenged in the 1st half.

THAT said, I'm still in favor of allowing anything to be challengeable. I've never understood why some things can be challenged and others can't. Any call that can be made, can be made wrong. It does not help the integrity of the game when you see an obviously wrong call stand only because it's not challengeable.

by Noah Arkadia :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 10:57am

Let's not forget, a failed challenge still costs you a TO. Logically there would be an increase in challenges, but not to the point where coaches use all of them every game -far from it. My biggest concern would be the increase in desperation challenges, when your team has basically nothing to loss. But maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Refs would learn to do quick work of them.

The man with no sig

by Steve in WI :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 1:56pm

If you see at least 4 challenges a game, every game, then either the coaches are morons (losing multiple timeouts per game on lost challenges) or that highlights the fact that the refereeing is woefully bad. If teams are WINNING 4+ challenges a game, then I'd argue that just demonstrates that more challenges need to be allowed for the integrity of the game.

On a separate note, what I think the league should really institute is an automatic "booth review" or whatever you want to call it in the case of completely incorrect calls that are instantly apparent on instant replay. I'm thinking of the call that Trestman had to challenge in the Bears game last week, where the Vikings receiver did not remotely catch a pass for a first down (it wasn't just that the ball was moving, or that it hit the ground, but he clearly never even came close to possession and the ball visibly bounced off the ground. Not a judgment call at all). The official who called it a catch was apparently blind. Anyway, of course Trestman won the challenge and was not charged a timeout, but he still had to burn a challenge on that, which seems completely wrong to me.

by QCIC (not verified) :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 4:05pm

You don't have to worry about challenges extending the game if you just make them the commercial time outs and get rids of the needless kicking and punting that takes forever and adds nothing to the core game. Your teams scores other teams get the ball on the yard marker where the EP is 0. Probably right around the 25?

by Danny Tuccitto :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 9:59pm

You caught me. Nope, skimmed both, and missed that part in both. Nevertheless, my lengthy treatise stipulated to "there won't be stoppages every play," so it doesn't impact the other 95% of my wall of words.

by Jerry :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 9:06am

I agree with Danny. It's one thing to look at "where was the ball when the runner's knee touched", and another to determine whether or not there was enough contact to warrant a flag.

And if they do allow these kinds of challenges, there will be a lot of demand for more challenges, since there are actions that are close to penalties (whether or not they're flagged) on just about every play.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 9:58am

"Yes, that's all we need: the game getting stopped on every play because an OL obviously held or a DB contacted the receiver 5.25 yards beyond the line of scrimmage or an OL was 1.25 yards beyond the line on a screen pass (and on and on and on), but it wasn't called."

Then maybe teh umpires/referees should start either calling the rules as written, or the rules should be fixed to match how the game is actually played.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 10:26pm

I wholeheartedly agree.

And just adding to what I said before, I actually think that a lot of the problems with judgement calls stem from refs being forced to focus on rule book minutiae rather than the "advantage" concept. If an OL's holding is at the point of attack of a running play or saves the QB from getting sacked, then call it. In those cases, "illegal action" gave the OL's team an advantage. If illegal action by a DB prevents the WR from running his route or catching a pass (or vice versa), call pass interference, holding, or illegal contact. If it doesn't, then don't call it.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 10:06am

" But refs are trained from their first day in Pop Warner that "you don't call what you don't see" AKA "don't guess." "

And yet refs regularly call holding based on the way a defensive lineman moves, instead of actually seeing the OL hold. They regularly call Pass Interference from positions where its impossible to actually see whether there was interference. The regularly spot balls that they can't see. They regularly award fumbles to teams when they have no idea who actually recovered the ball legally. And they regularly call things that didn't happen.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 12:05pm

Not sure how you'd do any better on most of those things you listed. (22 referees on the field, perhaps?) You'd call holding when the d-lineman didn't appear to have been impeded? And most of large pileup fumble recovered aren't visible on video, either, so you'd flip a coin to determine possession?

And though I frequently disagree with the calls made, it's pretty seldom that I see a flag thrown when it's "impossible" for the ref to have seen the play.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 10:06pm


I think Anonymousse's "regularly" is an adverb that massively overestimates how often NFL refs throw their flags as a result of guessing. Does it happen? Of course. That's just human error, though, either because they thought they saw more than they actually saw or simply didn't follow what they've been taught.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Sun, 12/08/2013 - 8:15pm

I think NFL referees make calls/non-calls based on things they don't actually see every quarter of every game. They simply aren't good enough athletes to keep up with the plays they're trying to enforce (and we shouldn't expect them to be).

I don't see why there's so much hold-back on letting them help themselves do a better job, and allowing them to say "I don't know, let me take a look"

by Andrew Potter :: Sun, 12/08/2013 - 10:09pm

They simply aren't good enough athletes to keep up with the plays they're trying to enforce (and we shouldn't expect them to be).

Why shouldn't we?

by Dr. Bill :: Sat, 12/07/2013 - 4:14pm

Going with your "Observation" vs. "Interpretation" distinction, there are a ton of calls that are currently not subject to review, but could benefit from instant replay to improve observation. What about FG tries above the uprights, non-reviewable play currently that does not hinge on interpretation, but rather observation? What about a roughing the passer call that the ref thinks is a blow to the "head or neck area" but upon close observation through replay, was actually a hit into the sternum?

You could make all calls reviewable, improve observation (and therefore accuracy) without the replay official substituting their interpretation for the field official. Doing a better job observing what actually happened is separate from interpretations of severity or intent.

by Jerry :: Sun, 12/08/2013 - 1:46am

Why do you think the field goal attempt above the uprights isn't reviewable? Because the league decided it's more interesting not to be able to look at it, or because their research showed that the video angles aren't reliable enough to make a better decision?

I can see making blow to the head calls reviewable, since you can answer the specific question of where the impact was. More generally, though, no amount of video evidence is going to tell you definitively whether a particular action is incidental or a penalty; official's judgment will still be necessary.

by Theo :: Sat, 12/07/2013 - 9:01pm

I read your disclaimer that you didn't get the point of max 2 challenges, and you said it didn't take away anything from the rest of this wall or words... it does.

You start off with:

Coaches being allowed to challenge judgment calls means that they would also be able to challenge judgment non-calls.

eh no. Why would that be? But ok, let's go with what you write and a coach can challenge ANYthing.

Because the coach has only 2 calls, he should be smart with what he challenges. He can think a first down at 3rd and 12 in the first quarter is a big play; but it might not be further down the game. So this all still applies that we won't see 'ticky tack' plays reviewed, because even the coach sees that there's not much chance of it being overturned, and IF it's overturned, didn't we all win then?

You write it as if a ref 'loses' when his call is overturned. I don't see it that way; they want the game to be called correctly and fairly as much as anyone.

So we can challenge everything... as a coach I would just throw the flag after the first long TD and say "challenge, there was a holding, look at the replay". And sure enough there will be a holding somewhere.
The way to tackle this is to say "tell us which linemen held, so we can look at it". (or "what linemen was downfield" as long as the coach is specific on what happened)

About the challenges of a judgement call... like I said above: what's wrong with taking another look and make a judgement call after more evidence?
Don't we do this all the time in court? Doesn't this work?
Maybe another angle shows another light on a DPI, maybe he just tripped, but the ref saw it as a DPI.
Maybe it was helmet to helmet, but in slow mo you see he hit the chest.
What's wrong with better judgement calls?
And mind you that it's going to happen a max of 12 times a game.
Wait... that's a lot!

by frank kenney (not verified) :: Sun, 12/08/2013 - 11:07pm

How do you make a "better" judgement call? The whole point is that those calls aren't based on black and white, is he in bounds or out of bounds. They are based on an interpretation of the rules.

Which is what would make it an issue for one ref to overturn another on these calls. It wouldn't be a situation like you currently have, where calls are overturned because the replay ref had a better angle to watch the play. Overturning a judgement call would basically be a replay official telling a different ref "my interpretation of this rule is right and yours is wrong."

If you read Peter King's SI article about the refs, these are commonly the calls that are "supported" by the league, meaning the league doesn't necessarily agree with the call, based on the exact wording of the rules. But it is also not considered a bad call that the ref will be downgraded for.

by practical (not verified) :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 2:36pm

Isn't this--
"are commonly the calls that are "supported" by the league, meaning the league doesn't necessarily agree with the call, based on the exact wording of the rules. But it is also not considered a bad call that the ref will be downgraded for"

a reasonably good "judgement" rule that would allow the ref to determine if the play was correctly called? If the league has a process that they go through to essentially say that there isn't enough evidence to conclude it was a bad call, use that to let either the play stand or overturn it.

by frank kenney (not verified) :: Sun, 12/08/2013 - 10:52pm

Nicely said. Saved me a ton of typing because you covered just about all the reasons I'd have a problem with this.

by dryheat :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 9:29am

I think it's a step in the right direction. I would like to figure out a way so a coach can't flag a long pass, figuring there might be holding somewhere on the line...a Hail Mary challenge if you will, or to take the other side a coach couldn't flag an incomplete pass on a key play hoping that somewhere there was a hold/illegal contact/interference.

Limiting the number of challenges mitigates this, but I think more thought is needed before we open up all aspects of all plays to challenges.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 10:02am

", figuring there might be holding somewhere on the line"

If this worry is based on the idea that there's holding on every play, than the challenge system is not the problem, it's illuminating what the problem actually is : the game is not played according to the same rules that are in the rulebook.

The fix here isn't to not allow coaches to challenge these things; the fix is to make the rules match the game on the field.

by dryheat :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 10:07am

I suppose Robo-Referee is the solution, allowing one being to be able to watch the entire line and effectively adjudicating what is holding and what is not.

Oh, and watch what happens the first time a player lays his hands on him.

by my name is my password (not verified) :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 10:14am

An almost more feasible option is to install adequate sensors in balls, equipment, helmets that would detect collisions. Did the player block the punt before running into the kicker? Let's look at the ball's data! (of course, this could be incorporated with a review/challenge system, if the NFL believed it to be a problem.)

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 12:27pm

Good luck with that -- trying to derive useful timing data from accelerometry of a structure as elastic as a football.

by Noah Arkadia :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 11:02am

True, but what if we find the rules are unenforceable? Maybe football just can't be as fair as, say, tennis. Maybe arbitrariness cannot be avoided.

In my mind, penalty reversals would only occur when the ref makes a blatant judgment mistake.

The man with no sig

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 12:08pm

Exactly. Imagine this same argument about basketball. Was there enough contact for a foul? Exact same thing. Holding and pass interference are always going to be judgment calls unless everybody is content to have a flag on every play. The modern passing game disappears overnight if o-lineman can't grab onto people.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Sun, 12/08/2013 - 8:19pm

If the rules (as written) are unenforceable, then they're not really the rules, are they? They're just an arbitrary structure to allow the referees to punish teams (like speeding tickets)

So we should change to some rules that are enforceable.

by Whatev :: Mon, 12/09/2013 - 7:18am

They are enforceable. If you're expecting to combine consistency with ease of interpretation and fairness, you'll forever be disappointed.

by QCIC (not verified) :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 4:07pm

Exactly, there is no reason that "x rules if broken on every play" should ever be a sentence.

by my name is my password (not verified) :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 10:09am

I would think that upon review, the refs could/would examine all aspects of the play. On a challege to impose DPI where none was called, they could determine that there was no DPI, but instead Offensive PI. (or perhaps DPI, but also offensive holding and offensive hands to the face after the play). A few plays listing all non-called penalties (or even better, imposing a penalty on the team using the challenge, which would also lose the challenge) would quiet the challenges, I would think.

by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 12:12pm

I don't agree with BB, but I think every non judgement aspect of a penalty should be reviewable (like hits to the head, if the guy did or did not hit the head is in almost every case not a judgement call). Illegal Contact if the QB is in or our of the pocket.

by DEW (not verified) :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 12:45pm

I'm on the fence about judgment calls (and I'm really not fond of the idea of challenging non-calls like holding; virtually every long touchdown would get red-flagged by the one scored upon because you can find evidence of holding on virtually every play--maybe the challenge should require the challenging coach to specify the penalty ("#37 held #68") they want called if non-calls are allowable so that their replay guy has to be able to find something egregious to point to), but I absolutely agree about opening up basic yes-no questions like hits to the head. Those are very difficult to make at full-speed, where a defender is crashing into the upper body of a QB or receiver, and especially since the head will often move even when not hit because of basic physics, but almost always obvious at slo-mo replay.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Sun, 12/08/2013 - 8:21pm

"; virtually every long touchdown would get red-flagged by the one scored upon because you can find evidence of holding on virtually every play-"

That sounds like a problem with how the holding rule is written/called, rather than a problem with reviews.

by Scott P. (not verified) :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 1:28pm

Just wait until Belichick pulls out this gem:

Ref: What are you challenging, coach?
Belichick: Listen very carefully. I am challenging that this challenge is illegal.
Ref: ....

by Never Surrender :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 3:02pm


by Never Surrender :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 3:02pm

You know, I've been thinking for the last six years or so that there just aren't enough commercial breaks when I'm watching the game on Sunday. This would at least improve the NFL's appeal in that area.

by turbohappy :: Fri, 12/06/2013 - 3:21pm

I've thought this since challenges were implemented. Make everything challengeable, but raise the bar on what it takes to overturn the call on the field. If it isn't clear as day to everyone viewing it, don't overturn. That the announcers, me at home, and the ref could disagree about what we are seeing and the call be overturned seems wrong to me...it should be for only calls that are very clearly wrong on video review.

by Theo :: Sat, 12/07/2013 - 9:12pm

oh come on! They mention 'indisputable evidence' on every single challenge there is...

by Scottxray (not verified) :: Sat, 12/07/2013 - 12:04pm

I think that being able to challenge everything on a play would lead to a ridiculous amount of reviews. As stated , holding can be called on almost any play , any week, any team.

I think that a replay scheme such as college uses would be better than what is current in the NFL. All reviews should be by booth, and not the refs on the field, and the Replay officials should be randomly assigned and NOT part of the on field crew of officials. Probably two replay officials per game, who must reach consensus.

I do think that any play that results in a turnover or change of possession should be challengeable, to include uncalled penalties. For instance Erik Decker was interfered with in last years playoff game , and the interference resulted in a pick six. The interference if called would have corrected that. The current system only checks that Baltimore intercepted the pass and gained possession, not the reason that it happened.

Perhaps rather than any amount of challenges, you could have the normal 2, as it is today, with a third if you win those, and a third special challenge where you can challenge the officials call, or non call, of a penalty.

You have to limit it to the Primary action in the play. Offensive Holding only if the result of the play was clearly influenced by the hold before the QB or running back was out of the area. A hold 15 yards to the side of the primary action would not be challengeable if it occurred after the RB was already downfield 5-10 yards. In other words a clear advantage must be met, and not just incidental play away from the ball.

The special challenge would be limited to one , and you would not need a Timeout, and could be called at any time. If the challenge fails a 15 yard penalty could be assessed
against the challenging team. This would limit the # of teams willing to use it.

Barring that, the replay crew could be enabled to call penalties that were obviously missed, or overrule bad calls that had an effect on the play.

Whatever , the NFL needs to clean its act up. Officials are influencing games too much, and they are too inconsistent.

by JimZipCode :: Sun, 12/08/2013 - 10:13am

Why only two challenges? I think coaches should be able to challenge as long as they still have timeouts.

Each timeout would burn a potential challenge, which would be interesting.

by Theo :: Sun, 12/08/2013 - 3:12pm

that's "unlimited until you have 3 wrong per half".
That's a LOT.

by Andrew Potter :: Sun, 12/08/2013 - 6:46pm

Not if you're also interested in being able to use them as real timeouts.

What I do think that would mean is more "we're going to use a timeout anyway, so we may as well challenge while we're at it" instances. It would, though, remove the "timeout while we decide whether to challenge" idiocy, making coaches smarter by removing the dumbest option.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Sun, 12/08/2013 - 8:25pm

If the refs are making that many undisputably wrong calls in a game, I want the coaches to be able to do something about it. I think thats more important than the game going a little longer.

Feeling like your team got jobbed hurts fan interest a lot more than a couple extra reviews.

by frank kenney (not verified) :: Sun, 12/08/2013 - 11:16pm

The real problem is that nothing really hurts fan interest. Because fans stay interested no matter what the NFL does, the NFL will continue to not give a damn what fans think.

by Pandora Beads Sale (not verified) :: Wed, 01/22/2014 - 3:10am

INDEED! I lastly found this web site! I