Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and G.M. Bill Polian are still steaming over the illegal snap penalties that were called in last week’s preseason game, saying that the league’s decision to move the umpires to the offensive side of the field — and require the offense to wait to snap the ball until the umpire is in position — could devastate their offense.
“I am dead-set against the penalty,” Polian told Peter King of SI.com. “It is insane. If I knew it would be this way, I’d have voted against it, and not only that, I’d have crusaded against it.”
Manning thinks the Colts’ comeback against the Patriots last year — the most memorable game of the regular season, thanks to Bill Belichick’s surprising decision to go for it on a crucial late fourth down — never would have happened if the Colts had been barred from snapping the ball until the umpire got behind the running back, as the new rule requires.
“If we had this rule last year,” Manning said, “there’s no way we catch up in that New England game. We were down, what, 21 points in the fourth quarter? We wouldn’t have had enough time to run enough plays to catch up. But forget about that game. Let’s chart all the comeback wins where a team runs the hurry-up in the fourth quarter. How many of those games would have ended up the same way — or would the quarterbacks have had enough time to run enough plays to come back and win?”
Whether Manning is correct about that particular game or not, he’s definitely correct that there’s a significant unintended consequence of the league’s decision to move the umpires. Even NFL VP of officiating Carl Johnson admits that.
“The way the new mechanic of the umpire positioning is, I don’t have a resolution to that,” Johnson told King. “It’s going to take a couple extra seconds to spot the ball. There’s no way around that.”
This is a rule change that has the potential to be a nightmare for no-huddle offenses.