Skip to content

NFL morning after: Bad rules a big problem for the NFL

AP

After Monday night’s mess in Carolina, where the game ended with a pass interference penalty in the end zone being picked up without explanation by the referee, I didn’t want to spend Sunday thinking about rules and referees. But it was hard not to think on Sunday that the NFL has a real problem on its hands with rules that are written badly, and officials who enforce those rules inconsistently.

Everyone likes to bash the referees when they get something wrong, and I’m going to criticize the referees here today, but it’s important to remember that the referees can only enforce the rules that the NFL gives them. And I’m starting to think that a bigger problem is that the NFL’s rules simply aren’t written clearly enough to allow the officials to do their jobs properly.

Here’s a sampling of my thoughts on the rules on Sunday:

I still don’t know what roughing the passer is. In the Buccaneers-Lions game, Detroit defensive tackle Nick Fairley hit Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon in the leg and was called for roughing the passer. According to the referee, it was because Fairley hit Glennon too low. But the problem is, Fairley’s hit on Glennon was in about the same part of the leg as Chargers defensive lineman Corey Liuget’s hit on Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning a couple weeks ago. Liuget wasn’t flagged and wasn’t fined and the NFL confirmed that Liuget’s hit was legal. But if Liuget’s hit was legal, I’m not sure why Fairley’s was illegal. And that wasn’t even the only roughing the passer call in that game I couldn’t figure out: Later in the same game, Tampa Bay’s Mark Barron was flagged for an even harder to understand roughing call against Detroit’s Matthew Stafford. And don’t get me started on Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers‘ flag for a clean hit on Josh McCown.

Protecting quarterbacks is a priority, or is it? Last week, when 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks was flagged for a hit to the neck of Saints quarterback Drew Brees, the NFL said it was the right call, supposedly because protecting quarterbacks is a priority. So why wasn’t Pittsburgh’s William Gay flagged on Sunday for his hit to the head of Jason Campbell? In both cases, a defensive player went high and hit a quarterback who was still holding the ball, forcing a fumble. When it was Brees getting clotheslined, it was a flag. When it was Campbell getting knocked out of the game with a concussion, it wasn’t a flag? Why? As far as I can tell, the answer is that the rules about protecting quarterbacks aren’t written clearly enough for the referees to call them consistently.

Referees are out of position even when they’re in position. Miami’s Cameron Wake lowered his helmet and drilled Carolina’s Cam Newton in the chin, and Newton ended up spitting out blood. It was a clear penalty on Wake, but the referee didn’t throw the flag. Why? Former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira said the ref was positioned exactly where he’s supposed to be, but just didn’t see it. But if that’s the case, the NFL needs to have an official positioned in a place where he will see a hit like that, or make hits to the head of quarterbacks reviewable on instant replay.

Coaches should be allowed to challenge personal fouls. Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson was tripped and fell into Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco’s leg, triggering a flag for a personal foul. On replay, it was clear that Wilkerson only hit Flacco because he was tripped, but the referee can’t look at the replay to get the call right. Jets coach Rex Ryan should have been allowed to challenge, but under NFL rules, he couldn’t.

Coaches shouldn’t be allowed to delay games by throwing bogus challenge flags. As Detroit’s offense was lining up following a missed Tampa Bay field goal, Bucs coach Greg Schiano threw his red challenge flag. After a long delay in which Schiano and the referee conversed on the sideline, it was announced that Schiano had tried to challenge a call that wasn’t reviewable — namely, whether the Bucs’ kick had gone through the goalposts or over a goal post. Under NFL rules, it wasn’t a penalty for Schiano to throw that flag even when he couldn’t challenge. But it should be. Why should Schiano be allowed to delay the game and give his defense time to adjust to the way the Lions’ offense lined up? Later on Sunday afternoon, Giants coach Tom Coughlin did the same thing, throwing his red flag even though the play in question wasn’t reviewable. If a coach throws a challenge flag for something that can’t be challenged, he should be charged a timeout.

A huge missed call cost the Vikings, and the referee was powerless to review it. Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk blatantly grabbed and twisted Adrian Peterson’s facemask before forcing Peterson to fumble. It was an obvious penalty, and the officials should have seen it. But they missed it, and the referee couldn’t use replay to review it because for some odd reason facemasking isn’t subject to replay reviews. If we’re going to have instant replay at all, and if we’re going to have all turnovers automatically reviewed, why on earth can’t the referee look at the replay, see the blatant facemask, and get the call right?

No one knows what constitutes a catch. Late in the Cowboys’ win over the Giants, Dallas’s Dez Bryant grabbed a pass from Tony Romo, went to the ground and then lost possession. The officials ruled it incomplete, and I think the officials got it right. But the NFL’s convoluted rules about what constitutes a catch make it almost impossible for anyone to say with any confidence what will or will not be ruled a catch, and there were plenty of fans on Twitter saying they were sure Bryant had caught the pass. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett seemed to think it was a catch, too, as he called a timeout in the hopes that the extra time would trigger the replay assistant to tell the referee to review the play — which he didn’t do. The NFL simply has to do a better job of explaining what makes a catch and what makes an incompletion, so fans and coaches aren’t left confused at big moments in big games.

Forward progress isn’t clearly defined. The biggest play of the Giants-Cowboys game came when Giants receiver Victor Cruz caught a pass, was wrapped up by two Cowboys, then had the ball ripped out of his hands. The officials ruled it a fumble, and Dallas’s Jeff Heath picked it up and ran 50 yards for a touchdown. Giants coach Tom Coughlin said after the game that it was “unbelievable” that the officials didn’t rule Cruz’s forward progress had been stopped, but I can believe it because I see forward progress ruled inconsistently every week.

The NFL should eject players who enter the field during fights. When Rams defensive end Chris Long saw his brother, Bears guard Kyle Long, engaged in a skirmish on the field, Chris ran from the sideline onto the field to grab Kyle and pull him away. Chris may have simply been trying to break up the fight, but even if all they’re trying to do is break up a fight, players shouldn’t run onto the field and into a skirmish. One of the ugliest incidents in the history of American sports came in a 1977 NBA game, when Rudy Tomjanovich ran into a skirmish and Kermit Washington reacted by turning around and swinging, shattering bones in Tomjanovich’s face. The way to avoid such incidents is for all players to allow the officials to break up fights, not enter fights themselves. Other sports give automatic ejections to players who run from the sideline onto the field during a fight, and the NFL should, too.

I don’t like the overtime rule. Overtime in Green Bay felt unsatisfying all around. Here’s how I’d change the overtime rules: 1. Do away with the overtime kickoff. 2. Let the home team pick which yard line the first overtime possession will start on. 3. Let the road team pick whether to start on offense or defense, based on where the home team put the ball to start overtime. 4. Play pure sudden death, first team to score wins, and play until someone scores, with no ties.

NFL refs have a communication problem. The NFL admitted after last week’s Monday Night Football mess that referee Clete Blakeman dropped the ball when he failed to explain why a flag thrown on Carolina’s Luke Kuechly in the end zone was picked up, and the league office told refs last week that they need to use their microphones to explain to the fans why penalty flags get picked up. Amazingly, on Sunday against Miami, Kuechly committed another penalty on a pass into the end zone — and again, an official threw a flag, only to have the referee announce that there wouldn’t be a penalty, without explaining why. How does the NFL allow this to continue happening? The referees need to explain themselves. And the NFL needs to give the referees clearer rules to work with, so those explanations will make more sense.

Permalink 159 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Features, Rumor Mill, Top Stories
yo

Raiders, who have yet to announce Derek Carr deal, call Friday press conference

Getty Images

The Raiders have yet to officially announce Derek Carr has a new deal, but they have called a press conference for 10:30 a.m. PT on Friday at the team facility. Although the team doesn’t specify the reason for the press conference, it will come as no surprise when they announce Carr’s signing.

Besides Carr’s tweet confirming the deal was done, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio tweeted his congratulations to Carr: “Congrats w extension!! Continue to be the great teammate and leader you R. God Bless you & your family! #RaiderNation #ReturnToGreatness”

Carr will become the highest-paid player in NFL history when he signs the five-year, $125 million deal, which includes $40 million fully guaranteed at signing. According to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Carr was out of the country on vacation but is on his way home.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Patriots announce David Harris signing, cut DeAndrew White

Getty Images

Linebacker David Harris is officially a member of the Patriots.

Word of Harris’ agreement with the defending champions came on Wednesday, but the move was announced by the team on Thursday along with the roster move they made to clear space for Harris’ arrival. They have waived wide receiver DeAndrew White.

Harris, who was released by the Jets earlier this month after 10 seasons with the team, signed a two-year deal with New England with a reported base value of $5 million. He’s the latest acquisition in a busy offseason that has seen New England use their cap space to add veterans all over a roster that was already coming off of a Super Bowl title.

White made the 49ers as an undrafted rookie in 2015 and played in four games. He caught two passes and returned six kickoffs in those appearances and moved on to the Patriots practice squad after getting cut last year. He’ll now have the chance to catch on elsewhere before training camp and may face shorter odds than he did with a Patriots team well-stocked with wideouts.

Permalink 3 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Drew Stanton, Blaine Gabbert competing to backup Carson Palmer

Getty Images

The Cardinals will have an interesting training camp battle between two players they hope never see the field. Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert will compete for the job behind starting quarterback Carson Palmer.

Considering Carson is 38 and entering his 14th season, the Cardinals could choose to keep both backups on the 53-player roster. Coach Bruce Arians said the decision about how many quarterbacks to keep will depend on whether the third quarterback is better than another reserve at another position.

Who’s the best player, regardless of position?” Arians said, via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN. “Obviously, he’s not going to help special teams, and if you think there’s one you really, really like for the future [you keep him].”

Stanton has served as the team’s backup the past four seasons, while Gabbert signed with the Cardinals on May 11.

The Cardinals started four quarterbacks in 2012 and three in 2014, but Palmer has started all but one game the past two seasons.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Report: Amazon to charge $2.8 million for TNF ad packages

Getty Images

Those who hope to advertise their goods and services during Thursday night games streamed by Amazon now know what it will cost. It’s still not clear to the rest of us what they will get.

According to Reuters, Amazon will charge $2.8 million for ad packages.

Amazon reportedly can sell 10 30-second spots per game. It’s unclear what an advertiser precisely will receive in exchange for the $2.8 million. Per the report, the $2.8 million package consists of 30-second ads throughout the 10-game slate that will be streamed by Amazon. Reuters notes that published reports indicated Twitter sold packages a year ago at prices ranging from $2 million to $8 million. Without more details are to everything that each package provided to advertisers, it’s impossible to compare Twitter’s deal to Amazon’s.

Twitter reportedly paid $10 million to stream 10 games last year. Amazon reportedly will be paying $50 million for the 10 games, along with (again, reportedly) $30 million in free marketing.

Sources familiar with the deal separately have insisted PFT that the $50 million and $30 million figures are inaccurate, raising the question of whether someone is pumping up the perceived price to be paid by Amazon in order to create the impression that the right to carry the games carries greater value than it actually does. With the current broadcast deals expiring across the board in five years and with real questions lingering about where the multiple billions will come from the next time around, it makes plenty of sense to create the impression that companies continue to pay way too much for the ability to show NFL games. Even if, you know, they aren’t.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

What’s next for John Dorsey?

Getty Images

Despite today’s news of his ouster in Kansas City, there’s a chance John Dorsey will be landing on his feet, sooner than later.

In January, Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel dubbed Dorsey, a former Packers executive, as the “best bet” to succeed Ted Thompson as the General Manager in Green Bay. The more immediate question is whether the Packers will be inclined to bring Dorsey back into the fold before such a move is made.

For his part, Dorsey subsequently called his time with the Chiefs the “greatest four years of my life,” and he expressed a desire to stay with the team long enough for his six-year-old son to graduate high school.

Dorsey, who has a year left on his Chiefs deal, can take the year off with pay, stay put in Kansas City, and plan his next move. A respected figure in league circles, he’ll surely find something, somewhere.

He may end up finding the G.M. job that arguably has more job security than any other, since there’s no one person in Titletown who can get up on the wrong side of the bed or catch a wild hair and fire the head of the football operation.

Permalink 6 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Tyrunn Walker under investigation for sexual assault

Getty Images

The Rams’ decision to cut defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker today came just moments before news broke that he is under investigation in a sexual assault case in Louisiana, where he grew up and previously played for the Saints.

The New Orleans Advocate reports that two women told police they were drinking with Walker and another man at a Mardi Gras celebration on February 28 when they began to feel disoriented, and that all four people ended up in a hotel room where the two women can remember little more than waking up and finding Walker and the other man sexually assaulting one of the women.

The local prosecutor confirmed that his office has received the police investigation and is reviewing whether to present the case to a grand jury.

The two women, an 18-year-old and a 19-year-old who are both college students, have filed for a restraining order against Walker and the other man, Justin Williams. Both women spoke to the New Orleans Advocate and indicated they think they were drugged.

Although he is no longer under contract to an NFL team, Walker could be subject to NFL discipline even if he is not charged in connection with this case.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Chiefs hope to replace John Dorsey by the start of training camp

Getty Images

When the Chiefs hired coach Andy Reid and then hired G.M. John Dorsey, many assumed that Reid had the same setup he enjoyed in Philadelphia, where he ran the show. In Kansas City, that wasn’t — and isn’t — the case.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Reid and Dorsey separately reported directly to owner Clark Hunt. According to the source, it was Hunt who made the call based on a full review of the all factors to make the move now.

Of course, that won’t keep people from speculating that Reid found a way to make it known in conjunction with his willingness to sign an extension that he wanted to see a change made. The bang-bang timing of the Reid news and the Dorsey news invites that.

A search will commence immediately for a G.M. who will have the same role and authority that Dorsey possessed, reporting directly to Hunt. Internal and external candidates will be considered, with a loose goal of getting the job filled by the start of training camp.

And while it’s very late on the offseason calendar to be making such an important change (it’s the first June firing of a G.M. in a very long time), the quiet spot between the end of the offseason program and the opening of training camp is really the only time of the year when a G.M. isn’t actively working to make the roster better.

Speculation surely will center on people who have experience working with Reid or for Reid. Whether and to what extent there’s familiarity between Reid and the new G.M. will shape the impression as to whether the G.M. has true independence when it comes to shaping the roster.

One name to watch, as one league source has suggested, is co-directly or player personnel Brett Veach. (If Chris Ballard hadn’t left for the Colts, he likely would have been the leading candidate.) But there surely will be plenty of candidates for the chance to put the finishing touches on a franchise that has been knocking on the door for the last four years.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Kenny Vaccaro not satisfied with career so far

Getty Images

Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro has been versatile and productive in his four seasons. But it’s not what he wanted or expected.

Vaccaro has yet to make All-Pro or even the Pro Bowl, goals for this season.

I was a top-15 pick,” Vaccaro said, via Josh Katzenstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “I should be a Pro Bowler. That’s just the way it goes.”

The Saints selected Vaccaro 15th overall in 2013. They have played him at several positions, and Vaccaro has 235 tackles, six sacks, 22 pass breakups and five interceptions. But it has left him wanting.

“I haven’t met any of my goals, and it pisses me off, really,” Vaccaro said. “I want to really, really, really work hard this summer and prepare for the season that I need to have because I feel like a lot of people know it’s in me. A lot of people know I’m good, but I haven’t earned the respect that I need and I want that.”

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Rams, Chargers to hold joint practices

Getty Images

Los Angeles has two teams now and they will start to get to know each other this summer while waiting for construction on the stadium they plan to share to be completed.

The Rams and Chargers announced their training camp schedules on Thursday and they include joint practices at each team’s training facility. The teams will have a workout on Wednesday, August 9 at the Rams’ training ground in Irvine and they will also work out together at the Chargesrs’ Costa Mesa facility on a date to be determined.

The two teams will also square off in a preseason game on August 26 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where the Rams are playing until the Inglewood stadium is up and running.

The Chargers will also hold joint practices with the Saints before they play a preseason game on August 20 at the StubHub Center in Carson, which will be their temporary L.A. digs.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Rams waive defensive lineman Tyrunn Walker

Getty Images

The Rams released defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker on Thursday. They signed Walker in March to serve as a backup to Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers.

Walker signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent out of Tulsa in 2012. He made the roster but did not take the field as a rookie. Walker played in seven games in 2013 with four tackles and a sack and became a regular in the Saints defensive line rotation the following season, making 19 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

Walker signed with the Lions before the 2015 season but broke his fibula after only four games that season, and he underperformed last season, going from starter to a reserve player and was even benched for a midseason game.

Walker, 27, played 353 defensive snaps in 2016. He appeared in 15 games, finishing the season with 26 tackles and no sacks.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

More negative leaks emerge about Colin Kaepernick

Getty Images

The big wheels of the anti-Kaepernick machine keep rolling.

In an item that sounds a little like our recent PFT item but that in many ways is fundamentally different, Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com shares under the cloak of anonymity more criticism of Kaepernick’s football habits. And, at a time when the 49ers have recently apologized to Kaepernick for a leak to Peter King of TheMMQB.com regarding Kaepernick’s desire to play, these latest leaks come from, yes, the 49ers.

“As one Niners employee explained it, Kaepernick wouldn’t stay late at the facility during the season like many quarterbacks routinely do, saying he’d take work home,” Breer writes. “And there were examples where coaches saw what looked like shoddy prep surfacing in inexplicable mental errors in games. Another staffer, asked if he thinks Kaepernick wants to keep playing, answered, ‘I do think he wants to play — to stay relevant.'”

It’s not clear on the surface of the article whether the leaks come from current or former 49ers employees. Breer has clarified that the person who expressed the belief that Kaepernick wants to play “to stay relevant” was employed by the team a year ago, but Breer has not clarified whether the Niners employee who chided Kaepernick for taking work home is still employed, or whether the leak came before or after G.M. John Lynch told PFT Live that he apologized to Kaepernick for the leaks to King about Kaepernick.

The irony of Breer’s article is that his broader point — Kaepernick needs to speak on his own behalf — comes in an article containing more examples of people speaking about him under the cloak of anonymity. Multiple members of the media have been trafficking in these anonymous opinions, passing them along without scrutiny and thus necessarily presenting them as true.

Breer’s item becomes the latest example of King’s website being all over the map when it comes to Kaepernick. King has consistently and repeatedly argued that Kaepernick should be employed, reiterating the view most recently in King’s weekly mailbag and sharing eye-opening data on Monday from Cian Fahey suggesting that Kaepernick threw only seven “interceptable” passes in 2016, the least in the league. (Kaepernick threw 16 touchdown passes against four interceptions for a 90.2 passer rating last season; imagine how well he would have played if he wasn’t lazy, as Breer’s latest reporting clearly implies.)

Others, like Breer and Andy Benoit, have made their views on Kaepernick clear. Benoit received sharp criticism from Drew Magary of Deadspin.com for making a football-based argument that all 32 starters and 15 backup quarterbacks are better than Kaepernick. While it’s admirable that King allows his people the freedom to write what they want, the issues raised by Kaepernick’s unemployment are too sensitive and too nuanced for a publication to be skittering all over the place regarding whether Kaepernick can or can’t play, regarding whether he does or doesn’t want to play, and regarding whether his unemployment is or isn’t a result of his activism.

Permalink 27 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Chiefs fire G.M. John Dorsey

AP

In a surprise announcement at what is ordinarily the slowest time of the year in the NFL, the Chiefs have fired General Manager John Dorsey.

The Chiefs issued a statement saying Dorsey is out.

“I notified John that we would not be extending his contract beyond the 2017 season, and after consideration, we felt it was in his best interests and the best interests of the team to part ways now,” owner Clark Hunt said in a statement.

That announcement came about half an hour after the Chiefs announced that head coach Andy Reid has signed a contract extension. That will obviously lead to speculation that perhaps Dorsey and Reid weren’t on the same page, and that Reid won a power struggle within the organization. Dorsey recently made the surprising decision to cut an old favorite of Reid’s, Jeremy Maclin.

Dorsey is the third G.M. to be fired since the start of the new league year in March, following Washington’s Scot McCloughan and Buffalo’s Doug Whaley.

Permalink 51 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Saints sign Ryan Ramczyk

Getty Images

Add the Saints to the list of teams with all of their draft picks signed.

The Saints moved into that column on Thursday by announcing that first-round tackle Ryan Ramczyk has signed with the team. Ramczyk, the 32nd overall pick of the draft, signed a four-year deal with a team option for a fifth year.

Ramczyk appeared headed for a backup role as a rookie, but left tackle Terron Armstead’s shoulder surgery could lead to a spot in the starting lineup right off the bat. Armstead is expected to miss 4-6 months and Ramczyk is seen as a favorite to take over his role while he’s recovering.

With Ramczyk under contract, there are now 11 unsigned draft picks in the entire league. Seven of those players are first-round picks, including second overall pick Mitchell Trubisky.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

John Mara says Eli Manning has “a lot of years left”

Getty Images

In 2014, Giants co-owner John Mara said Eli Manning was still “in his prime and still has a lot of good years left.” Three years later, Mara has repeated the same.

“We think he’s got a lot of years left in him,” Mara told WFAN on Thursday, via Dan Duggan of the Newark Star-Ledger.

The difference from three years ago is Manning now is 36 and is entering his 14th NFL season. Manning, who has made 211 consecutive starts, has three years left on his contract.

The Giants started planning for a future without Manning, though, by drafting Davis Webb in the third round. Giants coach Ben McAdoo has said the team intends to give Webb time to develop as the No. 3 quarterback behind Manning and either Josh Johnson or Geno Smith, who are competing for the backup job.

Permalink 6 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Andy Reid signs extension with Chiefs

Getty Images

The Raiders signed their quarterback to a contract extension on Thursday and one of their AFC rivals has done the same with their head coach.

The Chiefs announced that they have reached agreement on a new deal with Andy Reid, who was in the fifth and final year of his current contract. There were no terms announced.

“I’d like to thank Clark and the entire Hunt family for the opportunity to continue my coaching career here in Kansas City,” Reid said in a statement. “We’ve made quite a bit of progress over the last four seasons, but we are not done yet. We are going to continue to work towards our ultimate goal of winning championships. I’ve been blessed by the support of the community, our fans, the Hunt family and the entire Chiefs staff. I’m looking forward to the years ahead as the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.”

Reid has gone 43-21 in four seasons with the Chiefs and has taken the team to the playoffs in three of those years. The extension will give him a chance to improve on those totals while overseeing the expected transition from Alex Smith to 2017 first-round pick Patrick Mahomes at quarterback.

Permalink 15 Comments Feed for comments Back to top