Adjusted catch rule still needs work

AP

In March, NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino told PFT Live that the language to the rule regarding a catch would be tweaked, but that the rule would not significantly be changed.

“I think as part of this discussion around this play it was that ‘act common to the game,’ football move, whatever you want to call it, that I think created some confusion,” Blandino said.  “And so in an effort to clear that up the committee looked at the language and made several changes. So in order to complete a catch, the receiver has to have control, both feet on the ground and he has to have it after that long enough to clearly establish himself as a runner.  And this would fall directly in line with our defenseless player rule where we say a receiver is protected until he can clearly establish himself as a runner.”

As noted by Blandino’s predecessor, Mike Pereira on Twitter, via Deadspin, the new rule goes like this: “A player is considered to be going to the ground if he does not remain upright long enough to demonstrate that he is clearly a runner. If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball until after his initial contact with the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regain control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.”

It’s a lot of words to equate a receiver who can be hit in the head or neck because he’s no longer defenseless with a receiver who can go to the ground and lose possession of the ball and have the outcome still be a catch.

The bigger problem is that a disconnect will continue to exist between the NFL’s rule for determining what is and isn’t a catch and the reasonable expectations of the game’s stakeholders. The Dez Bryant play looked, to the reasonable person, like a catch. Until the rules make a play like that a catch, the rules won’t be properly serving the best interests of the game.

25 responses to “Adjusted catch rule still needs work

  1. Well Dez Bryant had had taken three steps, shifted the ball to the opposite hand then hit the ground. He ha “control of the ball until it hit the ground”….and came lose. According to the their own words Bryant’s was a legal catch!

  2. How about working on the blown call in the Lions game that got the Cowboys into the non-catch game?

  3. How about having the rule stating (without all that mumbo jumbo)….A catch is a completed catch when the receiver goes up grabs the ball with both hands..come’s down lands on both feet with out losing the ball during all this…and that’s that…anything after that is irrelevant…and perhaps look into if receivers touches ground with any part of his body other then his feet, before the ball does..then it’s a completed catch also…I still want to see where the ball hits the ground first before his hand did…to me play is dead right there and then….

  4. It doesn’t make a lot of sense if the NFL thought this rule wasn’t serving the interests of the game, so maybe they see things from a different perspective.

    What would absolutely make sense would be for the NFL to do everything they can to identify anything and everything that doesn’t serve the interests of the game or their business, and to formulate a strategy to address each of those areas. It would be interesting to know if the NFL has zero items that are on this theoretical list, or to know what items do exist on this list along with the status and plan for potential changes.

    If such a list exists, then it would definitely make for a great PFT post. There surely would be a ton of profits and enhanced enjoyment of the game at stake hinging on completion of any items on that conceivable checklist.

  5. Hmm, Seems to me that that explanation means that it was a catch.

    Dez caught the ball and had it under his control while he was in the air, he then landed, first on one foot, then the 2nd came down, he established himself as a runner by turning his body and, at the same time, lunging for the goal line off of two feet that were on the ground.

    If I understand the meaning of ‘going to the ground’ it is that the reciever ‘goes to the ground’ not by his own effort, i.e., ‘lunging’, but, he goes to the ground as a direct result of making the catch. When a receiver ‘lays out’ in the act of catching the ball and ends up on the ground, that is ‘going to the ground’. Standing on two feet and lunging with the ball is not ‘going to the ground’.

  6. I learned what a “catch ” was when I was 4 in the yard with my dad.. Does the nfl seriously need a 4 paragraphs to explain a catch? This is ridiculous..

  7. The rules can’t… and shouldn’t… bow to what an average person thinks a catch should look like because doing so would create unjustified turnovers.

    Suppose you went to something closer to what the average person would say, something like “control and two feet” regardless of what happens after.

    Then a player catches a ball at the top of a route, two toes hit, and he is crushed across the middle and loses control. Fumble.

    Or let’s just modify Dez. Suppose it was a “catch”, but then he loses control at the end and the ball skitters across the turf. Again, Fumble.

    You’ve just incentivized every offense not to go for long balls or balls across the middle for fear of turnover. You’ve just legislated the spectacular catch out of the game because no one wants to risk a crucial turnover.

    You have to think of unintended consequences. Nothing is perfect, but people should try to grasp that this existing rule is probably the closest we get to avoiding the law of unintended consequences.

  8. It’s a lot of words to equate a receiver who can be hit in the head or neck because he’s no longer defenseless with a receiver who can go to the ground and lose possession of the ball and have the outcome still be a catch.
    ___________________________

    If Dez got hit in the head anytime during that play, it draws a flag 100% of the time. AKA defenseless. AKA hasn’t completed the act of the catch.

    Your own argument just backfired.

  9. Until the rules make a play like that a catch, the rules won’t be properly serving the best interests of the game.

    That’s a pretty lofty pronouncement. The problem is that what you’re demanding might not actually be possible. There is no perfect set of rules in which every ruling would be the most intuitive one.

    In this scenario, every attempt I’ve heard suggested to redefine the establishment of possession so that this play would be a catch would either have unintended consequences that far less properly serve the best interests of the game.

    Would you prefer to dramatically increase the number catch-and-fumbles so much that teams turn even more exclusively to the ultra-short passing game than ever, or would you rather make the ruling of a completion a total “know-it-when-I-see-it” judgement call for the refs, because you like how satisfyingly that’s worked out with Pass Interference?

  10. Stop trying to make this a thing. Dez did not complete the catch and I instantly knew it would be overturned as soon as I saw the play live.

  11. Like Tom Brady said, learn the rulebook.
    The rules should not be changed just because the Cowboy fans didn’t like the outcome.

    That play should never be considered a catch.

    Nice effort by Dez to try to sell it as a reception.

  12. Now, any time a receiver catches the ball, runs 3 steps, changes hands with the ball gets hit, it is an incomplete pass. Not a fumble. Or, is tackled and hits the ground and the ball comes out. The receiver is not down with contact with the ground but now it is incomplete?

  13. “Vincentbojackson” said

    “How about working on the blown call in the Lions game that got the Cowboys into the non-catch game?
    —————————————————————-

    What is there to work on? You can’t call face guarding in the NFL. There is no rule on it. That was an official error. No controversy.

  14. There won’t be a ton more fumbles because for plays where a player gets hit you keep the rule as is. It’s only the going to the ground rule that you change because it’s incredibly stupid. And you don’t need to align the catch rule with the defenseless rule. You complete the catch but you remain defenseless until you can make a football move. That makes sense and is intuitive.

  15. maybe they should adjust the Pass Interference by not picking up the flag after an obvious call.
    Also, Dez should just learn to catch the ball.

  16. They should’ve adjusted some calls in the Lions game. They shouldn’t have blown NINE calls that went in the Lions favor, one on a touchdown play and another on a crucial 3rd down play for Dallas to bring up 4th down.

    Maybe on the play you speak of they should go back and call the ticky tack hold off the line of scrimmage on the defender and then cancel it out with the obvious grabbing of the facemask by the receiver. Learn the game or go watch the other futbol.

  17. Anybody who follows football and is up to speed on this complicated rule knew immediately it was not a catch. It’s a hard fact rule, do not make it a judgement to be left to the ref?

  18. vincentbojackson says:

    How about working on the blown call in the Lions game that got the Cowboys into the non-catch game?
    ———————–

    Was that the blown 4th down call where the coach was too scared to go for it with 8 minutes left?
    Or was it the blown punt on 4th down that went 10 yards?
    Or was it the blown OL breakdown that led to a strip-sack and fumble?
    Or was it the other blown OL breakdown that led to a strip-sack and fumble?

  19. Wait, you mean if the ball doesn’t touch the ground it’s a catch? Are you sure that’s right, because that’s how it works in every other sport.

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