Several weeks ago, NBC officiating consultant Jim Daopoulos told me that, technically, the throwing of the red challenge flag by a coach on a play that is automatically reviewable not only results in a 15-yard penalty but also wipes out the review.
I was confused (of course, that’s not all that uncommon), but Daopoulos was persistent.
On Sunday, it happened in Atlanta. Falcons coach Mike Smith sent the red challenge flag flying after a turnover, which automatically is reviewable. Because Smith tried to ask for that to which he already was entitled, the Falcons ended up getting the Judge Smails treatment.
It should have served as a clear lesson to every coach to not surrender to the impulse to throw the flag upon witnessing a bad call on a play that results in a touchdown or a turnover, or that happens in the final two minutes of either half or at any point in overtime.
On Thursday, however, Georgetown-educated Lions coach Jim Schwartz threw the red flag after an obvious bad call on an I’ve-fallen-and-I-can-get-up touchdown run from Texans tailback Justin Forsett.
The result? Fifteen yard penalty, and no review of the clear officiating error.
Daopoulos explained on Monday’s edition of PFT Live that the approach was changed in the offseason because too many coaches were throwing the red flag when they shouldn’t have been throwing it, delaying the game. Still, the 15 yards of field position should be enough of a penalty. Pulling the plug on a system aimed at erasing bad calls because the coach had the audacity to react to the bad call makes no sense. More importantly, it’s unfair.
That’s why the rule needs to go. Here’s hoping the NFL doesn’t wait until the offseason to do it. Given today’s events, the NFL needs to make the change now.