NFL’s new replay standard invites more red flags

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NFL senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron has made a couple of replay decisions so far this season which suggest that the “clear and obvious” standard has been replaced by, well, some other standard. From the controversial Austin Seferian-Jenkins decision of a few weeks back to the phantom Zach Miller non-touchdown of Week Nine, the only thing clear and obvious is that nothing is clear and obvious when it comes to the replay process, which for the first time this year has the final decisions being made by the league office.

Which introduces another important factor in to the decision-making process for any coach contemplating the possibility of using the red challenge flag. In past years, it would have been a possible waste of a challenge (and a time out) to throw the flag in a close case. Now, maybe it’s worth a strategic roll of the dice.

The ultimate decision, based on the Seferian-Jenkins and Miller calls, depends not just on what a coach’s staff is seeing, but whether the specific circumstances of the game make it worth taking a shot. Twice, we’ve seen Riveron take a touchdown off the board when he shouldn’t have. If/when a key score comes in the fourth quarter of a close contest, throwing the red flag becomes a viable option, since there’s no way to know for sure whether the ruling on the field will definitely be confirmed.

Hopefully, coaches who use the red flag in those situations quickly will learn that the challenge was wasted, because this would mean that the NFL has retreated to the “clear and obvious” standard.  As one league source opined on Saturday, the current approach will eventually “bite the league in the ass.” If/when something like that happens in a playoff game or the Super Bowl, that definitely will be the case.

Fortunately, the league office has a well-earned reputation for proactively spotting potential embarrassments and eliminating them. Oh, wait. That’s right. It doesn’t.

15 responses to “NFL’s new replay standard invites more red flags

  1. So the league office has quietly and unilaterally replaced the standard in the rules that everyone thought they were playing by with one of their own that no one knew about?

    Corruption runs deep in Roger Goodell’s National Integrity League.

  2. So, this article states that coaches should throw their challenge flags on questionable scoring plays. Did we forget that all scoring plays are automatically reviewed by the league and are ineligible to be challenged by coaches?

  3. If/when a key score comes in the fourth quarter of a close contest, throwing the red flag becomes a viable option, since there’s no way to know for sure whether the ruling on the field will definitely be confirmed.
    ==============================
    Uh, no. No, the coach cannot do throw the red flag on scoring plays as they are automatically reviewed by rule.

  4. “If/when a key score comes in the fourth quarter of a close contest, throwing the red flag becomes a viable option”

    Red flag is never an option on a scoring play

  5. The controversial part of the ASJ fumble was the fans understanding of the rules. ASJ clearly lost and never regained possession. Holding the ball close isn’t possession in the NFL.

    Once you lose possession, in air, you must regain control of the ball, have 2 body parts land in bounds (not hands) before one lands out of bounds, and make a football move. ASJ hit the goalpost before he landed in bounds. That’s out of bounds, in the endzone.

    A ball touching a player that is out of bounds and in the endzone is, by rule, either a safety or a touchback. In this case, it’s a touchback.

    That rule is as dumb as the catch rule but it is the rule. And the NFL made the obviously correct call on that.

  6. In the Atlanta at Detroit game, I could not see any clear and obvious images showing Golden Tates knee being down, which was needed for the touchdown to be reversed. I still havent seen anything. Yet the TD was reversed and Detroit lost the game.

    I’m wondering if the clear and obvious is more related to Riverons mind. For the rest of us not so much.

    If he assumes things based on other angles it should not be overturned. I believe we should have clear images.

  7. descendency says:
    November 5, 2017 at 12:50 pm
    The controversial part of the ASJ fumble was the fans understanding of the rules. ASJ clearly lost and never regained possession. Holding the ball close isn’t possession in the NFL.

    Once you lose possession, in air, you must regain control of the ball, have 2 body parts land in bounds (not hands) before one lands out of bounds, and make a football move. ASJ hit the goalpost before he landed in bounds. That’s out of bounds, in the endzone.

    A ball touching a player that is out of bounds and in the endzone is, by rule, either a safety or a touchback. In this case, it’s a touchback.

    That rule is as dumb as the catch rule but it is the rule. And the NFL made the obviously correct call on that.

    ____________________________

    Unfortunately, you’re misinformed.

    1. The call on the field was a touchdown, so there needed to be “clear and obvious” evidence that he lost control of the ball and never regained it. If it wasn’t obvious that he didn’t regain possession, then the call on the field should have stood.

    2. Your understanding of the rules is deeply flawed: What you wrote about 2 body parts doesn’t apply, and the “football move” was taken out of the rulebook circa 2010. The rule that applied (and discussed ad nauseam) was the rule of going to the ground. ASJ was a runner, but he lost possession in the process of going to the ground (this isn’t disputed by anyone). Therefore, he had to regain possession and maintain it through the entire process of going to the ground, just as if he were catching a touchdown pass. Again, none of this is even disputed — these are just the background facts which you obviously don’t understand despite your complaint about “the fans understanding of the rules.”

    3. Nothing about “out of bounds” applies in this case. He landed in the endzone before rolling out of bounds. That wasn’t even part of the conversation.

    4. ASJ fumbled on the way to the ground. That’s clear. What’s not clear is WHEN he regained possession. Whether he maintained possession through the entire process of going to the ground is impossible to determine with 100% certainty no matter how many slow motion replay angles you look at. Reasonable minds can differ. Therefore, absent clear and obvious evidence that the call on the field was wrong, the call on the field should have stood. That’s the rule. Instead Riveron is looking at the replays as if no call on the field has been made and making what he thinks is the best call, which is why both of his predecessors have publicly called him out.

    It’s not just the fans who think these calls were wrong — it’s Blandino and Carey.

  8. @itsunclepauley

    Per the NFL’s actual, on the books, rules:

    Article 7 A player is in possession when he is in firm grip and control of the ball inbounds (See 3-2-3).

    To (re)gain possession of a loose ball (3-2-3) that has been caught, intercepted, or recovered, a player must have complete control of the ball and have both feet or any other part of his body, other than his hands, completely on the ground inbounds, and maintain control of the ball long enough to perform any act common to the game. If the player loses the ball while simultaneously touching both feet or any other part of his body to the ground or if there is any doubt that the acts were simultaneous, there is no possession. This rule applies in the field of play and in the end zone.

    —–

    1. It is *clear* that the ball came loose, thus was not possessed.

    2. It was also clear that the player (ASJ) did not follow throw with the 3 criteria (control, 2 feet, football move) outlined above.

  9. ASJ was flat on his back out of bounds still juggling the ball. Clear and convincing to me that he did not have control of the ball in the endzone The other one… the ball did hit the ground. I’m not sure he had control all the way thru the process. The dude explains both calls well on NFL.com and I’m ok with it as he saw it.

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