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Until red-flag rule changes, coaches should hand them off

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NFL executive V.P. of football operations Ray Anderson said on the Black Friday edition of The Dan Patrick Show that the rule that wipes out replay review if the head coach has the audacity to ask for that which he already is entitled could be changed not after the current season but during it.

Regardless of when the rule is changed, coaches need to be more careful until it does.

While it’s inexcusable for any coach or anyone who covers the NFL to have not known about the red-flag rule on Thursday, given that the issue was one of the major talking points emerging from Week 11, coaches are human.  They surrender to impulse in the heat of the moment.  They throw the red flag without necessarily thinking that they shouldn’t, especially since until last year the only time the red flag couldn’t be used came during the final two minutes of either half or in overtime.

The safest approach would be to give the red flag to someone else, like the guy who holds the nuclear football for the president.  When the coach feels the urge to throw the red flag, he turns to the keeper of the red flag, who is charged with knowing the rule and knowing when the red flag can and can’t be thrown.

And if it can’t be thrown, the keeper of the red flag should shake his head like he’s turning down a piece of pizza made by a guy who didn’t wash his hands after going to the bathroom.

It’s an easy fix to a potentially game-altering blunder.  And when even the smartest of coaches can’t think clearly through a cloud of piss, vinegar, and adrenaline, it’s a critical one, too.

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21 Responses to “Until red-flag rule changes, coaches should hand them off”
  1. fitzmagic1212 says: Nov 23, 2012 1:56 PM

    could the texans have thrown the red flag knowing he was down so that the play wouldnt be reviewed? take the penalty and 7 points? seems like NFL coaches could try this next..

  2. mke2276 says: Nov 23, 2012 1:57 PM

    Nice Seinfeld reference.

  3. watchfullhose says: Nov 23, 2012 2:03 PM

    Ad if a team scores a controversial TD, they should challenge it so it can’t be reviewed.

  4. johnnycash19 says: Nov 23, 2012 2:04 PM

    From Rule 15, Section 9 of the NFL’s official playing rules and casebook: “There is no limit to the number of Referee Reviews that may be initiated by the Replay Official. He must initiate a review before the next legal snap or kick and cannot initiate a review of any ruling against a team that commits a foul that delays the next snap.”

    I’m sorry but where did the Lions commit a foul or delay the next snap?

    Saying you can’t challenge a play that’s already being challenged because you challenged it is like going to the grocery store for food, but finding out it’s illegal to buy food.

  5. 49erstim says: Nov 23, 2012 2:05 PM

    I’m usually inclined to disagree with you Mike, buy the Seinfeld reference swayed me. Well played Sir. 🙂

  6. shaggytoodle says: Nov 23, 2012 2:11 PM

    fitzmagic1212 says:Nov 23, 2012 1:56 PM

    could the texans have thrown the red flag knowing he was down so that the play wouldnt be reviewed? take the penalty and 7 points? seems like NFL coaches could try this next..

    No they couldn’t, and the reason it is a penalty is say sometimes in the 4th before two minutes.

    Andre Johnson makes a good catch that is close to the sideslines, but isn’t neccesary need to go under the hood for review and the Texans want to go for 2, and try to hustle a little bit the Lions feel if they throw a chellenge to change the momentum.

  7. CKL says: Nov 23, 2012 2:16 PM

    Or…the other 30 HCs who haven’t done this can just keep doing what they’re doing since they don’t have that problem. Sure every team’s HC has different assistants who do different things so they don’t have to micromanage and can concentrate on the game on gameday, but I think this one goes a little too far. Adding a layer in between could add an unnecessary and costly time delay to throwing the flag. Just make sure the guys in their booths know the rules and can call down to the HC if he looks ready to throw it when he shouldn’t

  8. anarchopurplism says: Nov 23, 2012 2:21 PM

    Are players excused from group dancing or taking their helmet off in the heat of the moment? No……they are accountable and adapt accordingly.

    So will coaches. This has only happened to one of the most undisciplined coaches in the league.

    If there is another person in the communication line for challenges, teams risk not getting the flag out there while the head coach gets the opinion from his video guys.

  9. pigbladder says: Nov 23, 2012 2:23 PM


    schwartz violated the rules. he should have been smart enough to realize the play was going to be reviewed and let the process happen. it is unsportsman like conduct to challenge something that you have no right to challenge. know the rules, period. its like calling a timeout when you don’t have one to call. in this instance the penalty was severe, on a terrible call to begin with.

  10. usmutts says: Nov 23, 2012 2:26 PM

    If a reference to an old TV show is appropriate, Schwartz might be more like Barney Fife being required to keep his one bullet in his pocket so as to avoid doing something stupid.

  11. jimmysee says: Nov 23, 2012 2:29 PM

    rules schmules — really — the prime directive should be to get it right.

    The “rules” should never get in the way of that.

  12. term3186 says: Nov 23, 2012 2:35 PM

    I’m sorry but where did the Lions commit a foul or delay the next snap?

    Why do Lions fans keep asking this? The penalty for initiating a challenge when a team is prohibited from doing so: Loss of 15 yards.

    This is a foul. This foul delays the next snap. The official delays the snap while ruling on the penalty. It isn’t complicated.

  13. h0c2000 says: Nov 23, 2012 2:37 PM

    The punishment is excessive for the team. Since any coach who throws the red flag in this instance is an idiot, I figure an ejection is in order.

  14. matt2calvin says: Nov 23, 2012 2:40 PM

    Are you serious?

    Your answer to a rule that allows a non touchdown to become a touchdown is to give the flag to someone else? Seriously?

    In a game where touchdowns are so hard to come by – you should NEVER have a rule that awards a touchdown that was NEVER earned.

    The NFL is run by lawyers – it is becoming hard to watch. Calvin Johnson’s obvious touchdown is overturned by a lawyer doing contortions, then Mike has to back it up because he has sold his soul to the network to keep his gig paying big bucks.

    Change the rule. Giving a pretty red flag to somebody else is plain stupid.


  15. shlort says: Nov 23, 2012 3:12 PM

    Here is how to fix it. Stop teams from using a no huddle offense. The replay official would only have to watch the game on TV to initiate a call to stop play until the previous play can be reviewed. No coaches challenges should be permitted and every play should be looked at on screen in the 30 or so seconds it takes a team to move from one play to another.

    The replay booth can manage to get the job done inside of two minutes of either half… They can surely handle that job for a game.

  16. thestrategyexpert says: Nov 23, 2012 3:18 PM

    Exactly. The teams need a guy to manage all of the complicated strategy elements from timeouts and challenges and other tactics such as what to do on 4th downs. The coaches aren’t very good at quickly determining what the best course of action is for key strategic moments. They waste time and aren’t aware of odds and probabilities that can maximize their chances of winning a game. They need somebody to stay one step ahead of them and think of everything in advance that could possibly come up or be relevant and to relay strategy input advice before it’s too late to figure out what to do.

  17. mp42245 says: Nov 23, 2012 3:25 PM

    fitzmagic1212 says:
    Nov 23, 2012 1:56 PM
    could the texans have thrown the red flag knowing he was down so that the play wouldnt be reviewed? take the penalty and 7 points? seems like NFL coaches could try this next..

    Excellent reply. Exactly what I would do.

  18. isyourteam5and0insuperbowls says: Nov 23, 2012 3:34 PM

    what don’t you people understand? the play WOULD HAVE BEEN REVERSED if it wasn’t for that schmuck Schwarts throwing the flag. you don’t give a guy on the sideline a new job, as a HC you do your job and KNOW THE RULES and not act like a child when you don’t get your way. it’s very simple. you want to get mad? point fingers? look for someone to blame? look no farther than your overrated, hothead coach

  19. pfpmb says: Nov 23, 2012 4:17 PM

    Not a Lions fan but this rule blows. How about wasting more time by pulling over the refs after each questionable play to ask if the play can be legally challenged before throwing the flag? This won’t add much time to the length of a game. (sarcasm)

  20. rmc1995 says: Nov 23, 2012 4:32 PM

    Schwartz threw the flag as soon as he saw the player was down and the refs let it continue. This was 70 yards away from a TD. Had Houston been chasing Fossette rather than Jackson, he could have been tackled at the one yard line and challenge would have been good. This wasn’t a play on the goal line or a pass in the endzone. I suppose Schwartz could have anticipated a score 70 yards later.

    If you put the flag in a lock box it could delay when the flag is needed quickly likeflag when a ball is called a catch and the offense tries to get to the line before a red flag can be thrown.

  21. oilman989 says: Nov 23, 2012 7:39 PM

    I’m all for the coach appointing a keeper of the red flag. But who’s gonna be appointed keeper of the coach’s cerebral cortex?

    Schwartz is a moron. Any coach who doesn’t check his emotions long enough to think things through deserves the consequences of this actions.

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