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Replay changes seem inevitable, specifics remain murky

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After referee Jeff Triplette inexplicably bungled a replay review in the Colts-Bengals game, giving Cincinnati a touchdown even though replay showed that running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis was down by contact before reaching the end zone, momentum emerged for moving the replay function out of the stadiums and to a centralized location.

That momentum continued to build, fueled by news that the NFL subsequently visited the NHL’s command center in Toronto.

But then came the pre-Combine meeting of the Competition Committee, which resulted in sound bites suggesting that support doesn’t currently exist for centralized replay.

That wasn’t the sense we obtained during various on-the-record and off-the-record discussions with coaches and General Managers at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.  While sufficient support (i.e., 24 of 32 teams) may not exist to take the replay function completely out of the hands of the referees and push the full process to a place like NFL headquarters in New York, support for some sort of change seems to be strong.

The eventual adjustment could be, we’re told, to have NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino talk directly to the replay official and/or the referee to ensure consistency and accuracy in the various rulings.  And it sounds as if efforts already have been made to have Blandino intervene, even though the rules as currently written contemplate that the referee will make the decision on his own.

Regardless of how it happens, the referees need help, and Blandino’s involvement helps promote the implementation of the right standard in every replay review.  One mistake in the process is too many, and plenty of mistakes happened in 2013.  If procedure exists for augmenting the current process with the benefit of centralized and coordinated analysis of the calls in real time, it will only make the process better, not worse.

In four weeks, the owners will gather in Orlando to address this and other issues.  Few issues will be as important as finding ways to get the calls right, as often as possible.

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16 Responses to “Replay changes seem inevitable, specifics remain murky”
  1. pacificnw7722 says: Feb 22, 2014 12:06 PM

    Have high-speed computers with many camera angles make the call……..welcome to the FUTURE!

  2. Florio_Jr. says: Feb 22, 2014 12:06 PM

    Here’s one huge flaw in the replay/challenge system that I think gets overlooked. Anyone else find it hypocritical that a toss-up play they choose to call it a turnover, but it can’t be called otherwise unless it’s super conclusive.

  3. abqhawk says: Feb 22, 2014 12:35 PM

    Instead of the constant delay for review, maybe more than one ref should be required to agree to the incident in question before a penalty is assessed. If only one them probably a replay -or- more refs on the field, better training and fewer rules which is whats making it so hard for them.

  4. claimersays says: Feb 22, 2014 12:44 PM

    The NHL staggers games. The NFL piggybacks blocks of games on Sundays(10am and 1pm pst) so what happens when multiple games have critical reviews at once and Dean Blandino is overwhelmed? Replay is a FAIL for the NFL. Ask Navarro Bowman.. Makes an incredible play at the goal line to stop a score, strips and recovers a fumble AND has his knee bent 90 degrees in the WRONG direction in a playoff game and the officials BLOW the call??? I’m NOT a 9ers fan. But they got jacked up on a replay that cost them the ball, momentum and a starting MLB. Epic Fail!

  5. roadtrip3500 says: Feb 22, 2014 1:08 PM

    It should be centralized. The NHL “war room” in Toronto proves it works because the people there have become experienced in what to look for.

    The announcers don’t even know what’s going on with replays, let alone the officials. A referee turns on his mic and says “the previous play is under review” and every announcer invariably remarks “they’re going to take a look at it upstairs.” Ummm, no. It was already looked at upstairs and the replay official signaled to the ref that HE should now look at it and make a decision.

    The league should also mandate the number and position of cameras at EVERY game – so that a game in mid-October between two 1-6 teams gets the same benefit of replay as two 12-2 teams in December on NBC fighting for the #1 seed. A team’s record (and thus the amount of equipment sent to the game) should not dictate whether a critical TV angle is available to confirm or overturn a call.

  6. thevikesarebest says: Feb 22, 2014 1:13 PM

    They should do instant replay of the Seats at lambeua field to see how many of them broke.packer fans should try weight watchers.SKOL

  7. time2speakup says: Feb 22, 2014 1:21 PM

    Okey Doke – two immutable facts we all know and love: game officials, God bless’em, are gonna blow it from time to time regardless. And, the NFL (and a lot of us) don’t really wish to completely remove the “human” element. So, what to do? Simply accept that THE key above all else is to “get it right” period. Zero in on that and then do whatever it takes to get it done. Regardless of past history, tradition, human element or any other consideration. Bite the bullet, get’er done whatever that calls for – and lets move on. Get it right is ALL that matters. How – is totally irrelevant. Just do it!

  8. nflpcpolice says: Feb 22, 2014 1:21 PM

    Seeing eye dogs for the refs. Let the dogs make the calls. They can be trained.

  9. pj1983a says: Feb 22, 2014 1:24 PM

    If they centralized replay, it might speed things up to the point that they couldn’t squeeze in a commercial break during the under-the-hood dog and pony show. And heaven forbid they sacrifice money for the sake of something as silly as accuracy.

  10. bobnelsonjr says: Feb 22, 2014 1:32 PM

    How about a jury of referees and coaches get to advocate why the call should be made their way. So what if it take half an hour?

    Before we have a bureaucracy of 1000 employees working on a replay for months, consider that every system has bad calls, past present and future.

    Quit blaming the officials call on one play because your team lost a game. Rarely do you have incompetent substitute officials outrage the nation with a Fail Mary call.

    Poor ratings teams like the vikings don’t get the coverage and camera angles that prime time teams get to make the calls correctly. They have more to whine about than one call during one game.

    Tinkering with it will only make things worse; much worse.

  11. bobnelsonjr says: Feb 22, 2014 1:35 PM

    Do you really want Roger Goodell making every decision from the booth?

    Centralized control is always abusive.

  12. PhillySports25 says: Feb 22, 2014 1:36 PM

    Obviously it’s a topic of great debate. I think there should be centralized replay. I also think the league should clarify certain rules (or make them less convoluted), and that coaches should be allowed to challenge EVERYTHING, including penalties.

  13. gmen32 says: Feb 22, 2014 2:08 PM

    The CFL has a command center for it’s officials in Toronto.
    Although there are far fewer teams in the CFL, surely the NFL can figure out a way to make this work if the smaller league up north can organize it.

  14. thestrategyexpert says: Feb 22, 2014 2:15 PM

    Nothing much is changing or improving, and we’ll still have unjustified wins that go to some teams that never had to earn them with their play.

  15. purple1967 says: Feb 22, 2014 4:07 PM

    claimersays says:
    Feb 22, 2014 12:44 PM
    The NHL staggers games. The NFL piggybacks blocks of games on Sundays(10am and 1pm pst) so what happens when multiple games have critical reviews at once and Dean Blandino is overwhelmed? Replay is a FAIL for the NFL. Ask Navarro Bowman.. Makes an incredible play at the goal line to stop a score, strips and recovers a fumble AND has his knee bent 90 degrees in the WRONG direction in a playoff game and the officials BLOW the call??? I’m NOT a 9ers fan. But they got jacked up on a replay that cost them the ball, momentum and a starting MLB. Epic Fail!

    I’m still not clear as to WHY that isn’t a reviewable play….Can someone clear that up for me?

  16. rainponcho87 says: Feb 22, 2014 5:54 PM

    They could make a huge improvement just by allowing more types of plays to be reviewable. Nothing is more maddening as a fan than to see a bad call or noncall and then hear it can’t be challenged even though it would take 2 seconds on review to get it right. Teams only get 3 per game max so you can’t argue it would slow things down that much.

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