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Red flag rule on track to be tweaked

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The Texans-Lions game on Thanksgiving had everything.  Included a horrible call that led to a long touchdown run that wasn’t reviewed via replay because Detroit coach Jim Schwartz threw the red challenge flag when he shouldn’t have thrown it.

The blunder arose from a rule that penalizes a coach who has the nerve to ask for a replay review when he’s already entitled to get one.  And the penalty for improper use of the red flag is more than the yardage marked off after a yellow one is thrown.  Under current rules, if a coach asks for a review in a situation where review is automatic (i.e., scoring plays, turnovers, final two minutes of either half, overtime), the review doesn’t happen.

The Competition Committee plans to recommend that the owners change that rule when they meet next month in Arizona.

“The bottom line is that we will get resolution on that play where we will get it right, where the play on the field is correctly administered,” NFL executive V.P. of football operations Ray Anderson said Wednesday after emerging from the Competition Committee meeting in Indianapolis, via the Associated Press.

There was early momentum to change the inherently unfair rule during the 2012 season.  But many believed no coach would be dumb enough to throw the red flag on a scoring play ever again.

Until one of them did.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy threw the flag on a scoring play during a Week 17 game against the Vikings.  Receiver Jordy Nelson quickly picked it up, and the officials looked the other way.

“I think we need to clean up the situations about what is reviewed, with Detroit and I think it was the Green Bay-Minnesota game,” Giants co-owner John Mara said.  “I think we’ll address that.  I’m not sure what the language will look like yet.”

The solution is simple.  If the coach throws the red flag when a review is automatic, automatically treat that as a use of the red flag.  And if the call on the field is upheld, take away a time out.

Automatic review is aimed at ensuring that, in certain specific circumstances, the engine for replay review will definitely be ignited.  If a coach wants to override that process by pulling the rip cord via the throwing of the red flag, a coach should be able to do that.

This approach would also help protect against those situations in which the replay assistant, who has way more power over the automatic review process than the replay assistant should, opts for whatever reason not to press the button initiating the on-field replay review process.

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44 Responses to “Red flag rule on track to be tweaked”
  1. frogmantm says: Feb 21, 2013 8:38 AM

    Also, they need to clarify whether throwing the red flag really means “throwing the red flag.” Packers got a pass in that game so make the rule clear. Either you can’t take it back if you throw it or you are allowed to after a conversation with the ref for example.

  2. knucklehead93 says: Feb 21, 2013 8:43 AM

    Love the not-so-subtle reference of calling McCarthy dumb. Classic!

  3. tannethrill says: Feb 21, 2013 8:44 AM

    They should penalize a player for picking up flags too.

  4. vikings2102 says: Feb 21, 2013 8:52 AM

    Packers should have had a penalty….easy as that. They knew the rule and ignored it. If the play is automatically reviewed and you throw (or in some cases, drop) the Red Flag, review the play like normal and no matter the outcome, the team throwing the flag get’s a 15 yard delay of game penalty.

    If you can’t figure out when to and when not to throw that flag, hire someone to hold it and make sure they don’t give it to you when you’re not supposed to use it.

    Bottom line, get the play right (blind zebra’s)!!

  5. skoobyfl says: Feb 21, 2013 8:59 AM

    I bet most players would like to take back pass interference or holding, so this isn’t right.

  6. riseabovecancer says: Feb 21, 2013 9:30 AM

    Actually head coaches have till the ball is hiked to throw the red flag.
    Also once that ball is hiked they cant challenge the play
    Also replays from 2012 was down 65% since the NFL started using the replay.

  7. donl517 says: Feb 21, 2013 9:33 AM

    It shouldn’t be a penalty if the play is going to be reviewed any way, just tell the coach it is automatic, put the flag away and move on. It is obviously not delay of game if the review is automatic, so why penalize them?

  8. n0hopeleft says: Feb 21, 2013 9:37 AM

    Again Packers fans, another example of how you have received so many breaks from the officials over the last 3-4 years.

    So when the Seattle debacle happened, I dont know too many people who felt bad for you.

  9. martyrapp24 says: Feb 21, 2013 9:38 AM

    I think the rule is great and should be left alone.

    If a coach is dumb enough to throw the red flag on an automaticly reviewable play then there should be consequences. As my father always said, “Ignorance is no defense in a court of law.”

    I am still amazed that Jim Schwartz didn’t get fired for costing his team that game.

  10. polonelmeagrejr says: Feb 21, 2013 10:03 AM

    I know it’s wrong but I don’t mind if the Lions get jobbed.

  11. baned0n says: Feb 21, 2013 10:15 AM

    The solution is simple. If the coach throws the red flag when a review is automatic, automatically treat that as a use of the red flag. And if the call on the field is upheld, take away a time out.

    Wait, what?? Isn’t the simple solution if a coach throws a flag when there’s already an automatic review to simply ignore the challenge flag, and just do the automatic review as already dictated by the rules? Why are we so concerned about punishing coaches for throwing a flag during an automatic review situation?

  12. thelastpieceofcheese says: Feb 21, 2013 10:18 AM

    Challenges should be modified as follows:

    1 Challenged team has the option to accept the challenge without further review.

    2 If challenged team does not accept challenge and challenging team wins challenge, in addition to play reversal, a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty is assessed to the challenged team.

    3. If after review play stands, challenging team is assessed a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct.

    4. No time outs taken away.

    5. replace red flag with something more visible, a beach ball.

  13. blacknole08 says: Feb 21, 2013 10:23 AM

    I think the rule is fine as is, but it just needs some clarifying. Schwartz admitted afterwards that he knew he shouldn’t have challenged it.

    If the play falls into the automatic review category, and a coach throws the flag anyways, I say take away a timeout.

    That’s better than not being able to review the call at all.

  14. bowmanj35 says: Feb 21, 2013 10:26 AM

    further evidence of why as a packer fan I’d love to see mcarthy replaced.

  15. peytonwantsaflag says: Feb 21, 2013 10:26 AM

    “The solution is simple. If the coach throws the red flag when a review is automatic, automatically treat that as a use of the red flag. And if the call on the field is upheld, take away a time out.”
    —————————————————————

    Why? why can’t the ref just yell over to the bench “don’t worry coach we got it! Pick up your flag!”

    Is it really that big of a deal?

  16. jedicurt says: Feb 21, 2013 10:45 AM

    But wait… i thought the regular refs were back by Thanksgiving… and i remember hearing the whole time we had the replacement refs, about how the real refs are so much better and don’t make those terrible mistakes

  17. allidoiswin55 says: Feb 21, 2013 10:45 AM

    Shouldn’t void a replay should be a penalty. But that being said I still don’t see how they gave Mccarthy a pass in that game. That was a slap in the face to all lions and non pack fans. His explanation was down right awful.

    JS keep the game consistent or you taint the product on the field.

  18. getyourownname says: Feb 21, 2013 10:45 AM

    Don’t penalize the coaches for asking for something that will happen anyway. It’s not slowing anything down. And the coaches already are being penalized in the court of public opinion for looking dumb.

    Unless this rule is really meant as another vehicle for attempting to restrain the ever-growing scope of Jim Harbaugh’s outbursts.

  19. mullman76 says: Feb 21, 2013 10:48 AM

    Mara, Kraft and Rooney will get together then inform the other owners what they’ve decided.

    Roger will be sure to fetch sandwiches or whatever makes those old corrupt men happy…

  20. Ponder This says: Feb 21, 2013 10:54 AM

    Mike McCarthy may be dumb, but at least he loves donuts.

  21. justintuckrule says: Feb 21, 2013 11:01 AM

    The whole thing is an embarrassment.

  22. macwomack says: Feb 21, 2013 11:07 AM

    Surprised that Mara is talking about this rule to the press:

    1. This is a rule that John Mara advocated and advanced into the rule books.
    2. I thought all the other owners had put a muzzel on Mara after he flapped his gums and admitted collusion against the union to ESPN.

  23. sb139422 says: Feb 21, 2013 11:08 AM

    To all you people who did not watch the packers game and are spewing about how McCarthy got a pass, if you had watched the game you would know why. The reason why he was not penalized is because the replay assistant had already buzzed down to the ref signalling a review. The play was already considered over and reviewable before the flag was thrown. By Jim schwartz, he threw the flag before the replay assistant signaled for a review, therefore he was penalized. A stupid difference but a difference nonetheless. McCarthy didn’t get a “pass”. He got lucky, yes. But the rules were followed. And had you watched the game and not just listened to the media and stupid fans you would have heard this explanation

  24. olcap says: Feb 21, 2013 11:32 AM

    It’s amazing that these guys (head coaches) are making millions, yet we can’t expect them to be smart enough to not break a rule during a game. Is it that difficult to understand that, on the types of plays specified in the rule, you DON’T throw a challenge flag?

    The NFL head coaches must have all been in “special” ed.

  25. salventuri says: Feb 21, 2013 11:41 AM

    Here’s a rule that needs to be changed:

    If you catch the ball in the endzone and your feet tough the ground in-bounds, its a TD.

    That BS of the ball coming loose when the receiver hits the ground negating the TD is beyond insane.

  26. cmonelisha says: Feb 21, 2013 11:50 AM

    and here i was thinking by reading the headlines that you were referencing how defenders are going to start tackling..shame on me loll

  27. wldkat says: Feb 21, 2013 11:59 AM

    The rule needs changed, but it doesn’t excuse the head coaches. It’s your job to know the rules.

  28. benroethlisberger7 says: Feb 21, 2013 12:03 PM

    The league will do everything to keep the Steelers down and we will continue to defeat them all. Wow, we are amazing.

  29. wmelch says: Feb 21, 2013 12:15 PM

    benroethlisberger7 says:Feb 21, 2013 12:03 PM

    “The league will do everything to keep the Steelers down and we will continue to defeat them all. Wow, we are amazing.”

    You certainly have a great recent track record!

  30. packman331 says: Feb 21, 2013 12:20 PM

    To make it factually accurate— McCarthy and Packers DID get a 15 yard penalty. Where they benefitted was that the review was allowed to happen, with the “reasoning” (quotes because who knows the validity) that by the time the red flag was thrown, they had already buzzed to review the play.
    The intent of the penalty is to prevent coaches from delaying the game, when they believe the play may not be reviewed in time. Simple trust issues…

  31. granadafan says: Feb 21, 2013 12:28 PM

    Too many rules and too complicated.

  32. flint80 says: Feb 21, 2013 12:38 PM

    I personally believe it is a stupid rule. If im a head coach and my team scores on a call that is questionable, all I have to do is throw the challenge flag. The touchdown will stand and my team will just get a 15 yard penalty….i’ll take everytime

  33. lks311 says: Feb 21, 2013 12:49 PM

    Schwartz’s Red Flag is likely the difference between Detroit drafting fifth in the first round verus, like, eighth. Would love to revisit this a year from now to see the personnel impact.

    As for the rule…let’s not have the NFL turn into Golf, where guys lose tournaments because they forget to sign scorecards. It’s a man’s game and should be decided on the field of play, not some strange technicality.

  34. harrisonhits2 says: Feb 21, 2013 12:51 PM

    “sb139422 says:
    Feb 21, 2013 11:08 AM
    To all you people who did not watch the packers game and are spewing about how McCarthy got a pass, if you had watched the game you would know why. The reason why he was not penalized is because the replay assistant had already buzzed down to the ref signalling a review. The play was already considered over and reviewable before the flag was thrown. ”

    Right except the rule is not written that way. It doesn’t say that if the flag is thrown after the replay has already been called for that it doesn’t count. The rule simply says if the coach throws the flag in that situation the replay may not be used.

    The Packers did get a freebie on that because the league was so embarrassed after the Thanksgiving game that they came up with that excuse to avoid enforcing a bad rule again in a high profile situation.

    And while it is indeed a very bad rule made with the right intention of preventing a team from throwing the flag to create further delays, its also a disgrace that coaches paid millions of dollars a year to know the rules don’t know something like that.

  35. deadeye says: Feb 21, 2013 1:00 PM

    “The solution is simple. If the coach throws the red flag when a review is automatic, automatically treat that as a use of the red flag. And if the call on the field is upheld, take away a time out.”

    =======================

    This idea sounds good to me. Coaches need to know not to throw the flag on any scoring play. If they can’t figure that out, let them waste their review unecessarily.

  36. johngaltwho says: Feb 21, 2013 1:25 PM

    Further:

    There should be no limit to successful challenges.

    All “potential” scoring plays should be automatically reviewed. (ie a close play in the end zone is only subject to automatic review if it is ruled a touchdown but not if it is ruled incomplete. That doesnt make sense. The nature of the play not the result of the call should determine the requirement for review)

  37. packownsu says: Feb 21, 2013 2:23 PM

    All plays that result in Viking fans whining are a good thing. It gives meaning to their existence.

  38. cheeseheadbybirth says: Feb 21, 2013 2:52 PM

    The Packers WERE PENALIZED – 15 yards on the kickoff.

  39. scytherius says: Feb 21, 2013 2:58 PM

    If it’s auto-review, why not make it utterly meaningless if the Coach throws the flag? BFD. The game is stopped for the review. I was stunned that this was the rule when I saw it applied, and not applied, last year. Not to put too fine a point on it, but anything else than making it meaningless is just flat stupid.

  40. ubpinaz says: Feb 21, 2013 3:12 PM

    I don’t buy that the (stupid) rule has anything to do with preventing further delays. The only delay caused by throwing a red flag in an automatically reviewable situation would be the time spent announcing and marching off a penalty, which certainly takes more time than simply picking up the red flag.

  41. randomguy9999 says: Feb 21, 2013 3:22 PM

    teams should get 2 red flags…. thats all no matter what… if they are stupid enough to throw it when they have a review coming anyway…. tough, they spent a flag

  42. vikesfansteve says: Feb 21, 2013 4:23 PM

    Considering the refs completely ignored the rule in the Vikings/Packers game, what good is it? Yeah they got the call right but it doesn’t change the fact according to their rule it should have been the Vikings ball. Also the hosing of the Lions was embarrassing, the rules should help the game not hurt it.

  43. thetooloftools says: Feb 21, 2013 5:10 PM

    JUST GET IT RIGHT !
    signed
    Degenerate Gambler

  44. 3highlow says: Feb 21, 2013 9:11 PM

    No doubt that the rule needs to be tweeked. The way it is now is hard to fathom.

    The examples of the Lions and Packers aside, it seems as though a coach could purposely prevent a replay review by tossing his red flag (when he shouldn’t) . What a dabacle that would be.

    I could see the (snake) likes of Belichick or Jeff Fisher trying this.

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