Jeff Fisher: It’s going to be difficult to change rules on what’s a catch


The question of what constitutes a catch came into the spotlight again in the postseason when officials ruled that Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant did not secure possession of a fourth down pass from Tony Romo before it was jarred loose by the ground.

During an appearance with Mike Florio on PFT Live from the combine last week, Rams coach and NFL competition committee member Jeff Fisher said that the committee usually looks at the rules concerning catches each year and he expects they’ll do so again when they meet next weekend. Fisher told Peter King of that he isn’t expecting that discussion to result in a change, however.

“There will be a discussion. It’s going to be difficult to change it — particularly because of the standard and replay. It’s one of those areas where I think we have two standards. The bang-bang on-the-field call and then the replay standard, where it’s frame-by-frame-by-frame. I just think that we have to have a rule that is defined — that’s a bright line — so it can be officiated. And I think we have that with the catch now.”

At issue on the Bryant play was the standard of making a “football move” beyond landing both feet in the field of play in order for a catch to count. Fisher said changing that standard would  “be eliminating the defenseless player aspect of the whole thing,” something that would presumably lead to other changes to rules regarding player safety that have been adopted in recent years.

50 responses to “Jeff Fisher: It’s going to be difficult to change rules on what’s a catch

  1. It should not be at all difficult. This stuff is ruining the games and it needs to be stopped. Nice attitude fischer.

  2. Take away the football move verbiage and replace it with something about possessing the ball for 2 seconds or something. Its not perfect, but at least 2 seconds can be somehow measured in real time.

  3. I’d like to see the “going to the ground” rule apply ONLY to plays where the receiver goes to the ground in order to catch the ball (a low throw or a play where he has to dive to make the catch for example) – the current wording and application works just fine for those plays. In fact, I would guess the original intent of the rule was for these plays in particular. The rule is for going to the ground while making a catch and should be limited to that application.

    For plays where the receiver goes UP to make the catch or catches it in stride while running and THEN falls to the ground there needs to be a different standard, because going to the ground in those cases often comes AFTER making the catch and therefore the “while” clause shouldn’t apply. I generally am not for adding new rules but since these two situations are so different in live action football, they need two different rules.

  4. They better change something because Bryant made that catch and it was called a catch on the field…there was nothing CONCLUSIVE enought to overturn it

    Something shady when down

  5. I swear that eventually receivers won’t have to catch the ball at all. The fact is that if a receiver can’t make a pure catch with these ridiculous gloves they wear now, then it should be a no catch!

  6. The fact is that when Dez Bryant made the “catch” his hands/fingers were NOT below the ball as they are supposed to be. That’s a rule even going back to my high school days. His hands were on the sides of the ball so that when he fell, the ball hit the ground with no fingers/hand below the ball. That is NOT a catch!!

    All of us have notices how receivers often roll over when making a doubtful catch to hide the fact that the ball may have hit the ground! Good call refs. Anytime the ball is so close to the ground, the receiver’s hands must be below the ball upon hitting the ground, Otherwise, it’s no catch. No need for any rules changes.

  7. I don’t get why we’re looking at changing the rule.

    It’s a good rule. Here’s why – It’s very easy to determine, in black and white, what is and is not a catch.

    Bryant was continuously falling to the ground after catching the ball. Because of that, football moves don’t mean anything. He’s falling to the ground. When a player is falling to the ground they must maintain control throughout hitting the ground. He did not. He lost the ball. Not a catch, plain and simple.

    Easy to identify what is and is not a catch with this rule.

    Now, some of you may not LIKE the rule, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad rule. The fact that it is clear and definable makes it a good rule. Let it be.

  8. I wish they’d stop saying the same thing over and over again. It’s actually very easy to change the rule.

    Here it goes. Change it back to the way it used to be before it got changed due to the Bert Emmanuel call in the playoff game. Still don’t have force outs and allow for the ball to touch the ground in situations of having it secured.

    Done…exactly how it used to be with a slight twist on the force outs and the security. There were never issues before except for the above mentioned differences. The new rule has issues almost every game. Funny, the rule, as I explained, used to be how it was in the NFL and how it still is in the CFL. There is almost never an issue on whether or not a catch is a catch in the CFL.

  9. Any rule that can be improved should always be considered for change, and if it’s too difficult to determine how to change it, then that means they need to seek out more ideas of how to change it until they find the idea that works the best or is the least difficult.

  10. .
    Wow – what a horrible attitude.

    I think it is time to change BOTH the rule and the committee members…

    This crap is ruining the NFL. You can’t tell how the lawyers are going to call a play. It is becoming close to unwatchable.

  11. They make the process of the catch too complex with the current rules.

    If referees in basketball have a hard time telling if a player takes two and a half steps in basketball is a travelling violation, NFL refs are going to have a hard time getting it right when they are looking to see if the WR was in bounds, if the WR continuously had a solid grip on the ball and that it was not rotating, that they make a “football move”, that they take the ball all the way to the ground and continue to hold onto the ball even after there is contact with the ground.

    There has to be a way to make it straight forward. Right now the refs have to have a checklist of questions to answer just to determine if it’s a catch or not.

    I don’t buy the slippery slope argument. Just examine it and don’t dismiss it out of hand.

  12. I still don’t understand how Dez Bryant gets a pass for not understanding a key rule that governs his profession. He’s supposed to be a professional WR, and that includes knowing how to do his job. The Megatron no-catch happened way back in 2010, there’s no excuse for any WR to not understand how the rule operates. And yet once again Bryant and his coaches are all out there surprised at what happened. This is not complicated, figure it out.

  13. I believe Bryant only had himself to blame for the non-catch. If he had tuck it in (Receiving 101), he would have secured it. Instead, he tried to be a hero and tried unsuccessfully to score 6 points. He is not the first to tried to be cute and score but MESS UP big time.

  14. Very simple. Control of the ball plus 2 feet (or 1 knee / hip / elbow / head / whatever) is a catch. If it comes out after that because it is stripped or dropped, then that’s a fumble. If it comes out when the ball contacts the ground as the receiver is being tackled, then that is a catch and a tackle – no fumble.

    The NFL screws things up when they try to interpret what the player is trying to do. Whether it is the tuck rule or a “football move”, it makes for stupid pointlessly obtuse rules which cannot be enforced consistently. With the rule as bad as it is right now, you might as well not even have a rule. What Cowboys fan is going to look at the Dez Bryant play and say “Yeah, I have to admit. According to the rules that was not a catch”?

  15. I’m really starting to get tired of listening to jeff fisher. It’s not hard to change, just say we don’t want to change it. And give a valid reason, not some crazy explanation that makes no sense.

  16. I don’t see the point in changing it. For the most part, the rule gets it right. Every now and again, it results in a controversy. Change the rule to something else, you’re still going to get controversy.

    It’s actually not that complicated of a rule – if you’re going to the ground as part of the process of making a catch, the ball can’t hit the ground. Now, you can quibble with the interpretation of it – was Dez Bryant going to the ground as part of the process of making the catch, or was that a football move? But, the rule itself is pretty simple.

    In this instance, in my opinion, Dez did not catch the ball. I can understand if you feel differently, but the way I see it: he was falling to the ground as he was catching the ball. The extra steps and “moves” he was making were part of the act of falling to the ground. In my view, he didn’t “reach” for the end zone so much as he reached his arm forward to brace his fall.

    Ball pops out, no catch.

  17. I think in general the rules – while overly complicated, as in “football move” is not a “bright line” that is so clear that everyone agrees on it – are OK most of the time, but there’s room for improvement.

    The fact that people still can’t agree on whether it was a catch shows that there’s too much grey area in the whole mess.

  18. Can we please stop with what Jeff fisher thinks. Most over rated coach of all time and Bounty gate creator who should be banned for life.

  19. I cant believe we are even having this discussion about Dez Bryant. This has been the rule for a long long time now. In fact I’ve already adjusted my viewing of football based on the rule. There’s never a time where I don’t watch a receiver on my favorite team or any other team, and wait to see if he holds on to the ball after falling to the ground. When I watched Dez Bryants attempt of a reception in real time I knew it was going to be overturned. In fact almost everyone I know who watches football regularly all agreed it wasn’t a catch. The only people I’ve heard disagreeing are the Cowboy fans. Heck even a lot of the cowboy fans I know agreed it wasn’t a catch. Anyone who is grasping at straws that Bryant was stretching to the goal line is simply fooling themselves. It isn’t a catch unless you hold on to the ball when you are falling to the ground, and that includes holding it when you are rolling over, etc. Every time I adjust to a new rule, some teams wants to complain about a call, and then the league changes the rule again. Leave the rule alone, I think most of us who watch football already have changed our mindset to the way its been called for the past 5 years.

  20. I know it does not come into play in the Dez “catch” but the Calvin Johnson catch in the end zone against the Bears……how is it that a running back or receiver can “waive” the ball totally out of control over the goal line, some times fumbling and it is a touchdown because it crossed the plane, but on a catch “the ball cannot move”. How about making the control issue the same.

  21. Go back to the old rule if the ball doesn’t touch the ground and your feet are in it’s a catch none of this maintain the catch threw out stuff . The old rule was a good rule then like always the NFL tinkers with it

  22. It should be ruled a catch when majority of people look at it and say “that’s a catch”. Remove the refs terrible judgement from it with the “football move” or “act common to the game” and it’s all of a sudden pretty easy to tell what’s a catch.

  23. Why do I think if they try and change the definition of a catch again that they’ll only screw it up worse than it already is?

  24. Woke up this morning and smiled once again because the Patriots are WORLD CHAMPIONS and your team IS NOT. We don’t worry much about what is and what isn’t a catch. We just own your team every year and watch you stomp your feet and CRY-Gate . Wahhhmbulance headed your way. HAHA!


  25. Bryant made the catch. If that was no catch, neither was the long pass in the super bowl that got the Hawks inside the 5 yard line.
    The ball was not controlled until he caught it laying on the ground.

  26. running backs can wave the ball across the goal line, because they’ve already established control as a runner.

    As for the person saying the seahawk catch wasn’t a catch because he was laying on the ground when he caught it? really dude? Its not a question of where or when you gain control, its maintaining control. Something Bryan did not do.

    im still not sure why so many people are having difficulty grasping the rule. its been the rule for 5 years!!!!!

  27. ” neither was the long pass in the super bowl that got the Hawks inside the 5 yard line.
    The ball was not controlled until he caught it laying on the ground.”

    The difference in the 2 plays is that the ball never actually touched the ground on the catch in the Super Bowl. It did on Bryant’s play.

  28. I believe Bryant only had himself to blame for the non-catch. If he had tuck it in (Receiving 101), he would have secured it. Instead, he tried to be a hero and tried unsuccessfully to score 6 points. He is not the first to tried to be cute and score but MESS UP big time.

    It probably didn’t occur to him that a ref would not consider that catching the ball, moving the ball from one hand to another and reaching for the end zone with said ball would NOT be a football move. Neither did the packers fans when the stadium went completely quiet.

  29. Or the truth could be the reason: the game is rigged and changing the rules would limit the areas that the stripes can interfere with the outcome.

  30. I like the end of his statement. If you again make it easier for WR’s to catch the ball and avoid accountability of securing the ball throughout the catch, then they need to eliminate the defenseless receiver rule. If they keep making it easier for catches to be made, then it will be impossible for defenders to do their job. If the WR’s get pissed because they are getting rocked over the middle, then perhaps they should be looking at their QB for getting them killed with bad throws.

  31. As long as all of you would have viewed the Dez Bryant bobble as a fumble that if it would have been recovered by the defense it would have been a GB ball. That’s the point of making a player maintain control all the way through the contact with the ground. I hate the rule as a Lions fan but I also understand what they are trying to do. Now that the decision of when a player possesses a ball is not a judgement call by the official but a call that can be challenged then you need clear guidelines. We may all think its Rome and we give a thumbs up or down in the sports bar on of its a catch but we all applauded when they took Judgement away from the officials. Now we have to live with this system.

  32. Or wideouts can quit dancing about and just hold onto the ball until the whistle – then hand it to the ref.

    Ya know.. like Barry Sanders or someone classy.

  33. The issue wasn’t whether or not he made a football move, the issue was going to the ground. He was going to the ground and lost control of it, period. I don’t have a dog in the fight. Its the rule, period.

  34. The rules really arent that hard to understand. Both Dez’s and Calvin Johnson’s catches were not complete, and i think its clear as day to see.

  35. There should be a very high standard on what is a catch… it shouldn’t be easy to disguise lack of complete possession and ball control, which is what a lot of people want with a rule change. They want to allow wishy washy catches, because they think not allowing them is ruining the game. All this bellyaching from Cowboys fans and Lions fans is so obviously self-serving.

  36. Christ Dallas fans are kidding themselves. So now the ball should be able to hit the ground, bounce around, and then still be caught. There is no way that was or ever will be a catch. Otherwise get all the QBs to start practicing bounce passes. What a joke.

  37. NFL saw a chance to get even with Dallas for the Detroit debacle and jumped on it. Everyone on this planet knew the catch would be overturned once Green Bay challenged it.

    Corrupt league.

  38. How about just changing the rule to say the ball cannot hit the ground to be a catch?

    You have to have control and two feet inbounds.

    You know like the playground rules.

    Yeah, real complicated, Jeff.

  39. Fisher’s attitude is exactly what is wrong with the NFL. They initially changed the old rules with limited discussion and no testing to what they are now. There was no hand-wringing at the time about how hard it was to change the rules–they just did it and opened a whole can of worms by not foreseeing the sorts of plays that really are catches but get called no catch because of the poor reasoning of the rule. But to fix their error is somehow impossible.

  40. The rules are fine.. there wasn’t any conclusive evidence either way to “OVERTURN IT.” whatever was called on field should have been the call.

  41. Keep it simple, silly. Clear control of the football in bounds is a catch. Get rid of the needless “going to the ground” and “football move” nonsense. How about a new term called “grounded”? A player is grounded if they have two feet, or any other substantial body part touching the field of play. A player with control of the football who is grounded has possession. That simplifies determining what is a catch, because you can throw out all this act of making a catch language and just focus on control of the football and being grounded.

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