NFL Rule Changes: Pass Interference (or Lack Thereof) Can Now Be Reviewed

The vote to allows offensive or defensive pass interference to be reviewed was won by a 31-1 vote, the only team to say no? The Cincinnati Bengals.

The NFL Annual Meetings are being held in Phoenix this week, and during this time is when we usually get news on rule changes that passed, rule changes that were shot down, and other major discussions around the NFL.  Usually every year there seems to be a major change and this year there definitely was.

I am sure we all remember the play from the NFC Championship Game where the Rams committed a blatant PI that was never called.  The Saints had chances to win the game after that, but if that egregious foul gets called – game over.  I would loved to have thrown the video in here but apparently the NFL doesn’t allow that video to be played on a blog.  Shame.

Well, good news, or maybe some sort of redemption for Saints fans but this happened today.

The vote to allows offensive or defensive pass interference to be reviewed was won by a 31-1 vote, the only team to say no? The Cincinnati Bengals. So let’s be clear at what this rule really is and then discuss how it could impact the game.

  • This rule allows coaches to challenge any called offensive or defensive pass interference, and it allows coaches to challenge non-calls. The second part here is key, the PI doesn’t need to be called for coaches to challenge it.
  • Under two minutes, all replays will still come from the booth.
  • This rule will go into effect this year, on a one year trial basis and be evaluated at the end of the 2019 season.

This is a pretty big change based solely on one result. PI doesn’t get called in every game when it should, and it does called in pretty much every game when it shouldn’t.  It took a once in a lifetime (hopefully) fuck up by the officials to make this rule official.

First, was does this mean immediately for the 2019 season? I don’t think it is going to get abused as some might think. Coaches still only have to have two challenges and are you going to waste it in the 2nd quarter for 30 yards? Maybe.  Coaches that challenge PI too much could have it come back to haunt them later on in the game.  On the flip side, if you get two challenges correct you are rewarded a 3rd.  We all know everybody on the field sees the replay so maybe if you already won a challenge, you see an obvious PI not called, so the coach will throw the flag knowing he’ll get one more.

How many times this is going to challenged depends on one thing: the officials. Obvious answer right? Well the question is how are officials going to review PI.  Just like holding, there is probably PI on the majority of passing plays somewhere on the field. How ticky-tacky are they going to get on throwing the flag after watching the replay?  How are they doing to determine, “well the defender didn’t push him that hard so we’re picking up the flag.” What do you do when you see offensive and defensive PI on review? How granular they get with PI rules during replay is going to be key.  Also, each reffing crew is different and coaches know this.  By week 5 or 6 coaches will have data on which crews call more PI’s during review, or take away PI’s during review and coaches will abuse that data in their favor.

For fans, this will undoubtedly extend the game and make it longer for them (so harsh on us fans). For refs, this is going to make their job even harder.  Fans, players, and coaches trash refs all the time this only puts more pressure on them.  If I’m the NFL we need to practice this every game in the pre-season like every pass play is going to be challenged.  Many times watching at home, we’ve seen a replay of challenged play multiple times before the ref on the field gets to look at it once.  The replay officials need to have the decision all but made for the on field ref by the time he gets that headset.  BUT they have to wait for the on field to look at every replay and discuss it together then.  We’ll have more on this later.

The other part of this proposal of reviews that got passed is based on conversion attempts and scores/turnover nullified by penalties reviewed.

  • Conversion Attempts: Any one or two point conversion can now be reviewed by the booth.
  • Scores/Turnovers Nullified by a Penalty: This one is interesting. Let’s say a RB scores a TD but it gets called back on a holding call, that can now be reviewed.  This will come into play a few times during the year.  There are always big plays nullified that penalties that are BS.

The next question is what does the 1 year trial mean?  Well for one, if the PI reviews get at least a somewhat positive reaction from fans, players, coaches, and it moves quickly and gets plays called correctly on the field – it will be made permanent next year. Basically, if it can be as un-controversial as possible, it’ll pass. If every review takes forever, or its proven not to help the game out at all, it’ll be gone next year. Secondly, if this does goes smoothly we could see it get extended to other plays like roughing the passer.

Actually, roughing the passer, defenseless players, or any “clear and obvious” mistakes to be reviewed was shot down.  The rule was then edited to what we just went . though above.  Essentially the “clear and obvious” mistakes could become reviewable in 2020 if the PI reviews go over well in 2019.

To add onto that, the NFL already tried to adopt an AAF rule.

This seems “clear and obvious” to me to add this to the NFL. I said before that reviews take forever and another official in the booth would help.  Now, what the NFL doesn’t want is for every play to get reviewed. I get that, but I wish the coaches would have proposed to have a ref in the booth for all reviewed calls. Basically, play gets reviewed and the booth official would already have the decision made by the time the on field ref gets to the headphones.

We’ll talk more about NFL Rule changes once the season gets closer but here are some two others that got passed.



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