Pass interference needs to be subject to replay review

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As the NFL continues to try to improve the replay process, the league desperately needs to take a page from the CFL playbook.

The NFL needs to make pass interference, and the lack thereof, subject to replay review.

During Monday night’s game between the Eagles and Bears, the latest example of a blatant non-call of interference happened, when Chicago defensive back Jacoby Glenn made contact, multiple times, with Philadelphia receiver Nelson Agholor on a long throw from quarterback Carson Wentz. No flag was thrown by the official who saw, or should have seen, clear evidence of pass interference. While the failure to throw the flag didn’t impact the outcome of the game, the decision not to give the Eagles the ball at the spot of the foul was not only an error but also a correctable one — if the NFL allowed replay review in those circumstances.

The NFL traditionally has resisted the use of replay for pass interference because the question entails judgment and subjectivity. Perhaps that’s true when the application of the rules is subtle an nuanced and, ultimately, not conducive to second-guessing via the 50-drunks-in-a-bar replay standard. But when the failure to call pass interference is so clear that even Jon Gruden, who routinely gripes about officials throwing flags too frequently, argued that the flag should have been thrown, replay should be available to fix it.

Clear errors by officials, regardless of form or type, should be fixable. Clear errors regarding the failure to throw a flag that can swing 50 yards or more of field position absolutely should be fixed.

Hopefully, the NFL will be willing to study the CFL’s experience with replay review of pass interference, and sufficiently ego-free to embrace an idea that the CFL hatched before its more established counterpart. Hopefully, that will happen before officials fail to call pass interference in a situation that decides the outcome of a postseason game.

If that ever occurs, it’s safe to say that replay review for interference calls will be adopted not long thereafter.

93 responses to “Pass interference needs to be subject to replay review

  1. Let’s write a new article about how PI should be reviewable every time there’s a missed call. I’d prefer a missed call then WRs flopping just so it can be reviewed and flagged.

  2. Stop trying to legislate the game like its a courtroom.

    Pretty soon we’ll see you recommend that each team have a panel of attorneys that review every play for the tiniest foul or irregularity before the next play can go on.

    Of course games will take 10 hours to complete and be mind numbingly boring but who cares, right?

  3. I don’t think flags should be reviewed. Seeing the play on slow motion replay will make the foul or non foul make it worse than it really was. If the ref misses it so be it, or if he makes a bad call so be it. It’s already hard enough to play defense in this league against these offenses! Just because Jon (I love this guy) Gruden said that the ref should’ve thrown the flag doesn’t mean the league should now implement the instant replay review process on pass interference.

  4. While the Packers and Rodgers stunk up the field all night on Sunday, that phantom PI to end the game prematurely was unbelievable. Textbook coverage results in a PI call and a game ending first down. Im not sure more replays solves everything, perhaps make anything reviewable in the last two minutes of a half but a little semblance of consistency would be appreciated. The no-call in the MNF game was just as ridiculous – textbook PI (running thru the receiver without even pretending to locate the ball).

  5. That was a very bad non-call. You can’t even argue that his view was obscured. It was down the sideline with no other players around them. Very obvious. The defender didn’t even pretend to look back for the ball either.

  6. The refs are calling a lot of imaginary penalties this year yet continue to miss the obvious ones . The first two weeks of the season seem to be a never ending training film on how not to officiate .

  7. I don’t know about this. I’m an eagles fan and wanted the call, but things look different in slow-mo and real speed. Do we allow review when they call it and it maybe wasn’t? Ultimately i think it would be a detriment to the flow of the game. Let’s revamp the PI penalty itself. Because the CB barely touched Agoholor on that play. I’m fine in a football world where that’s not PI.

  8. I agree, and let’s make unnecessary roughness reviewable also because there were some cases when personal fouls were wrongly called and they affected the outcome of the game, keeping drives alive and allowing a team to score the winning touchdown.

  9. Where do you draw the line Mike?
    Why just PI? The series before that there was an obvious holding by the defence on a Chicago receiver. Should we make replay review that as well? How about holding, I saw several holds by the O-line of both teams are we going to correct them as well?
    I am not saying the officials missed a call on that PI. But you are going to make this a 6 hour game if we are going to review all plays.

  10. And slow the game down even more? The officiating is getting worse and not just PI calls. The solution isn’t more replay its holding officials accountable for their performance.

  11. NO!!!! There are too many penalties in this game already and DPI is the worst of them all. There should never be a 40 or 50 yard penalty. DPI should be a 15-yard penalty.

    On a related note, I am sick to death as a fan when my team gets a key sack or stop, then gets hit with a taunting or accidental hands-to-the-face flag. As a fan, I should not be penalized because my team employs morons.

  12. I lived through Drew Pearson shoving off on Nate Allen in December of 1975 and I still think instant reply for pass interference would be wrong.
    There are already too many reviews done, subjecting the average fan to delays while breaking up the continuity of the game.

  13. Sorry, the games do not need to be 10-15 minutes longer so we can add multiple pass interference reviews. Maybe add an official, or better yet, train the current officials and hold them accountable for their mistakes. Besides, if you allow reviews of pass interference, how long is it until someone advocates reviewing holding calls? Or offsides? Where does it end?

  14. Bad calls and no-calls happen in every game. So maybe this particular play isn’t the best example to use in an argument that PI needs redefining or clarification.

    Showing two or more examples where the defenders and receivers behaved similarly but the refs reacted differently would provide some proof that the definition of PI has become obscure.

  15. There were some really bad PI call against the Colts in the Broncos game. Of course there should be replays for any game Walt Coleman’s crew officiates!

  16. The problem with the CFL replay is that you can ask for a review citing PI or illegal contact, but then they review the entire field for infractions, going through every receiver and defensive player in pass coverage. So you end up getting reviews where the replay official instructs the game officials to call illegal contact on an infraction 50 yards away from what they initially wanted reviewed.

  17. Based on this past Sunday’s game, count the Broncos among teams that will NOT be in favor of making PI subject to review.

    I only saw the 4th quarter and there were two blatantly horrible PI calls that went against the Colts.

    Of course, that’s pretty standard fare for games played at Denver. Seems like whenever the Broncos are in trouble they get bailed out by a very fortuitously timed call. Explains why they win every close game they play at home.

  18. Maybe we should go back to the old days and not have ANY replays or better yet if you want a perfect game let’s just have computers simulate the game that way there are no missed calls and no body gets hurt…. SMH!

  19. Yeah make the game longer, that should bring ratings up…wow! only a eagle fan would bring this up after winning a game…yesh.
    2-0 beat the Browns and Bears = ‘Championship….

  20. The Ebron flag was huge. He runs a perfect route and absolutely jukes his defender and is penalized. The Lions ended up losing and this was the difference.

  21. This could single-handedly destroy Green Bay’s “chuck the ball and hope for a flag” offensive game plan that McMuffin installs on a weekly basis. So not only would they lose more frequently, they would lose BADLY more frequently. Since Packer football is the only thing that the state of Wisconsin has going for it…this rule could single-handedly destroy the state of Wisconsin. Roger–you may want to think this one through. I don’t believe you want this consuming what little conscience you have left in that head of yours.

  22. Why do people think games will suddenly be longer? It would just be another type of play that a head coach can challenge, and they only get so many challenges per half. Games wouldn’t take any longer than they do not because you can’t possibly review every play.

  23. boy the bears really suck. god bless bears fans. you’re down there with buffalo and cleveland

    THANK GOD for cubs and blackhawks. and that you have an awesome city with tons to do besides football/sports.

  24. I have to disagree with this one. Sure it’s frustrating when you get wrongfully flagged (or not flagged) for pass interference, but I don’t want the refs stopping the game every other play just to see if a PI occurred (or didn’t occur). It takes excitement out of the game and devalues the referees’ ability to make correct calls. And yes there’s a lot of gray areas with the rule, too.

    Plus, if many PI calls got overturned (or non-PI calls), then people are going to wonder how often the refs get calls like “Holding” wrong and ask for review on that too, and so on. I don’t want technology taking over this game.

  25. Another week and another problem a special somebody believes can be fixed with more rules.

    Should be…
    Ought to be…

    I’m sorry but I don’t think there’s any end to that style of thinking.

  26. Oboy oboy, six hour games! Of course the league and networks will absolutely love the idea because what happens every time there is a review/injury stoppage? A commercial break. Gotta get that revenue stream moving…

  27. All replay review should be done in regular speed. Slow motion replay throws off perception of what really took place. It’s been studied & pretty much proven to be true.

  28. PI should be 15 yards, not spot of the foul, and there should be no more “automatic first downs” for 5-yard penalties, especially something as ticky-tacky as “illegal contact”.

    That’s like making offensive PI or hands to the face an “automatic fourth down”.

  29. Before we add more plays subject to replay, how about we consider this change:

    GET REFS YOUNGER THAN 70 WHO CAN GET IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME!

    FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO REVIEWS IS LESS THAN 5 MINUTES!

    I read article after article about ratings being down and games taking to long and you want to add more replays which will add to the length of the game.

    How about technology? Guys in the booth watching all angles in real time. They control the replay and it’s done instantly.

    There’s got to be a better way.

  30. “I don’t want the refs stopping the game every other play just to see if a PI occurred (or didn’t occur). ”

    This would be within the current review framework. No additional stoppages.

  31. If they get to decide and you give us a live look in on the 50 drunks in the bar arriving at the consensus call then you are on.
    But if it involves the (ahem) assistance of the gang that can’t shoot straight from the bunker under Park Ave then all things considered I would rather eat glass

  32. Instead of replay, they should make pass interference penalty the same as college. And when a receiver extends his arm to gain separation, that’s offensive pass interference. Pass interference, either way, should only be called for signifying impeding of progress. Not for these ticky tacky hand fights that result in a 40 yard penalty.

  33. Like BB said….

    Make everything review-able. You’d still only get 1 challenge per half (unless you are successful with your challenge then you keep them.) but everything is review-able.

    Review at your own peril, but everything is review-able.

  34. I agree that clear mistakes by officials should be able to be fixed, especially since we have the ability. So here are my two suggestions:

    1) Allow coaches to be able to challenge pass interference calls. Don’t allow officials to review any play on their own. A pass interference can only be reviewed if a coach uses one of his two challenges. Coaches won’t challenge questionable calls. They’ll only challenge the ones in which it’s clearly the other way around.

    2) Simplify the rule. A little contact? Who cares. If the defender is tackling the receiver or pushing him out of his route before the ball arrives, then yes call PI

  35. As an avid football fan (CFL and NFL) I’ll throw in my 2 cents on this one.

    If you asked me before this CFL season if I thought making any penalty reviewable is a good idea I would have agreed. However, in practice, this season has been a gong show with challenges. Occasionally it has helped get a call right (rarely), more often coaches will challenge as a means to “go fishing” for a penalty on plays that went negatively for them.

    I can’t explain how frustrating it is for a fan watching the game to have a big play called back because of some minor defensive holding nowhere near where the QB was looking or where the play was. Similarly, everything looks way worse in slow motion than in real time. Seemingly clean hits get flagged as roughing the passer because in slow motion you could see the D-lineman’s hand on the QBs helmet. Offensive holding get flagged because, well, you could likely flag it on most plays.

    If they restrict it to pass interference then ok. Just be prepared to see coaches challenge any big incompletion/INT because the consequences (losing a timeout) are so minimal.

  36. How about making PI, either offensive or defensive, a standard 10 yard penalty from the line of scrimmage instead of a spot foul. If it’s defensive PI, it’s also a 1st down for the offense. If it’s offensive PI, back up 10 yards from the LoS.

    No more of these baloney 60 yard PI penalties.

  37. I see MN fans are still blaming refs for actually catching Wayne’s constant holding. You’d think it was Minnesota’s comeback effort that was crushed by a terrible pi call by the way they talk.

  38. I have a better idea. Let’s go back to some of the 60s era rules where the defender could mug the receiver and not get flagged. Oops, that wouldn’t allow for what the current regime thinks is ‘exciting’ football, passes everywhere. I can’t imagine how some of yesteryear’s receivers’ stats would be under the current kid gloves rules for the QB and receivers. Even better, imagine Unitas’s stats with these rules, where he wasn’t getting forearms to the head constantly and his receivers were untouchable after 5 yds. It would probably make Manning’s records look like child’s play.

  39. They do not need to add anything that will slow the game down over even more rule disputes. The replays have gotten out of hand.

  40. Nothing is more illuminating or rewarding than an argument over the officiating post-game. It’s what makes football talk SO FUN. Let’s split off a website dedicated to just that, and leave REAL FOOTBALL talk to all us knuckleheads. Please. Guess what? No matter how many more cameras, rules, definitions of already understood words you add–you will still have human error, because human judgment. Can we just agree on that and move on from the over-legislation that is truly crippling what used to be a thrilling sport to watch? C’MON MAN!!!!

  41. johngaltwho says:
    Sep 20, 2016 10:13 AM

    While the Packers and Rodgers stunk up the field all night on Sunday, that phantom PI to end the game prematurely was unbelievable. Textbook coverage results in a PI call and a game ending first down. Im not sure more replays solves everything, perhaps make anything reviewable in the last two minutes of a half but a little semblance of consistency would be appreciated. The no-call in the MNF game was just as ridiculous – textbook PI (running thru the receiver without even pretending to locate the ball).
    ————————————————————-
    You must be still drunk from Sunday if your still whining about call where your DB who couldnt cover diggs are night held him with his left hand as he went to cut out of the break. The packers benefited more then once from Iffy PI calls, this one was legit and your tears taste delicious

  42. dasboat says:
    Sep 20, 2016 10:21 AM

    NO!!!! There are too many penalties in this game already and DPI is the worst of them all. There should never be a 40 or 50 yard penalty. DPI should be a 15-yard penalty.

    The main reason you don’t want to do this is because DPI will happen more often if it’s 15. A DB gets beat on a 60 yard bomb? No problem – yank the WR down and it’s only 15 instead of a spot foul – or worse, 1st and goal at the 1. Teams will start coaching their DBs to do that – much like kickers are now suddenly dropping balls on the 5 yard line on kickoffs, when every one of them could reach the back of the end zone last year.

  43. Refs are inconsistent. One play is PI (for the O or the D) and then the next it isn’t… but that can be said for most calls in a single game, and across the league on any given Sunday.

  44. Enough already!

    Just let coaches challenge ANY play if they choose to use one of their two red flags to do it.

    You aren’t giving the coaches more opportunities to review per game, so it’s not going to slow things down.

    Then we can finally stop talking about what should or shouldn’t be subject to review.

  45. In the perfect world you’d have a team of refs using monitors to officiate the games, and a small handful on the field to spot the ball and/or whatever the guys in the booth tell them to do. The NFL is getting closer and closer all the time. It’s humanly impossible for a 60 year old ref to keep up with world class sprinters and also get the calls right. It’s hard enough with super slow motion cameras with 4 different angles. When I see more fans attending games who are wearing more black and white striped jerseys, than they are players’ jerseys, then I’ll be happy with the refs determining the outcome.

  46. Brilliant!!!
    Another way for the league to hand undeserved wins to the steelers.
    A couple of teams are already shown favoritism this would allow officials to arbitrarily take over any game they like.
    If they don’t like the outcome of a play, just go to the replay and look for the slightest excuse to slant things toward the desired outcome.

  47. No.

    What the NFL should consider, though, is adopting a hybrid college-style/NFL style PI.

    For “ticky-tack” interference (such as the play reference above), it would be a 15 yard penalty.

    For clear interference (arm bar, tackling, etc.) , the penalty would remain a spot foul.

    Perhaps refs would be more inclined to throw the flag on the deep ball if they knew they weren’t gifting the offense 50 yards.

  48. johngaltwho says:
    Sep 20, 2016 10:13 AM

    While the Packers and Rodgers stunk up the field all night on Sunday, that phantom PI to end the game prematurely was unbelievable. Textbook coverage results in a PI call and a game ending first down. Im not sure more replays solves everything, perhaps make anything reviewable in the last two minutes of a half but a little semblance of consistency would be appreciated. The no-call in the MNF game was just as ridiculous – textbook PI (running thru the receiver without even pretending to locate the ball)
    ****
    Phantom PI call??? Watch the replay it clearly shows the Packer db grabbing and turning Diggs on that play. If that was phantom, so were the 3 or 4 PI calls made on Viking db’s to extend Green Bay drives. Funny how calls against the packers are always thought of as bogus, but when they receive benefit from the call, it’s perfectly legit.

  49. The play in the article wasn’t pass interference. The ball has to be catchable for it to be pass interference. Wentz through to Agholor, who can’t catch, therefore any pass thrown to Nelson Agholor by definition isn’t subject to pass interference, only defensive holding.

  50. The only way I can see a PI ever being definitively overturned would be if the replay showed literally no contact whatsoever. And cases that clear-cut are pretty rare.

    The rules make it almost impossible to call PI most of the time as hand-fighting is allowed and even contact is okay just as long as the ref doesn’t think anybody was impeded significantly. It goes both ways with defenders having hands on the receiver for the entire play and with the receiver being able to basically push off to make cuts. The obvious PI calls are the minority with most being debatable to the point you could never really overturn them.

  51. Full time, well trained, in shape Officials that posses sharp eyesight. These old, part time geezers really blow.

  52. How about just making all plays able to be challenged? You still have 2-3 challenges available to you and if you want to challenge a non-call, or a bad call regardless of whether it be holding, PI, fumble, catch, etc. so be it. You’d just have to be specific on what you’re challenging (i.e. I challenge the non-call on #64. He was holding). It wouldn’t really slow down the game any more than that.

  53. As an Eagles fan, obviously I see the frustration. That call last night was HUGE at the time. In the end, the Bears turned it over a few times, and it wasn’t a big deal. But at the time, it was a 9-7 game, in the 3rd quarter, and that call would of put the Eagles in FG range (and force Chicago to score a TD to take the lead).

    However, I am not in favor of PI calls going to review. Unless you are going to change the rule so ANY contact, from either side, is illegal, it’s impossible to do. How can you tell, in slow motion, how much a hand on a guys hip effected him? Or if he would of gotten to the ball if it weren’t for that slight tug on his shoulder? It’s impossible. Could you fix blatant missed calls like the one last night? Sure, but they SHOULDN’T be missing that call, ever. That was just an awful call, that any high school official could of called.

    Here is a CRAZY idea. If you are a referee, and you keep missing calls (especially blatant calls like that) you aren’t a referee anymore. The only other place on the planet you can be inept at your job and face no consequences is working for the U.S. government

  54. bkostela says:
    Sep 20, 2016 11:38 AM
    No.

    What the NFL should consider, though, is adopting a hybrid college-style/NFL style PI.

    For “ticky-tack” interference (such as the play reference above), it would be a 15 yard penalty.

    For clear interference (arm bar, tackling, etc.) , the penalty would remain a spot foul.

    Perhaps refs would be more inclined to throw the flag on the deep ball if they knew they weren’t gifting the offense 50 yards.

    ________

    Ticky tack? He made contact with him 3 different time, and had both arms round him, while not looking for the ball, when it got there

    If that was “ticky tack”, there is no such thing as “clear interference”

  55. Define irony – Viking fans complaining about GB, yet they have a Waynes guy who was basically undressing GB receivers the entire game they just played. Sorry, he was committing blatant PI.

    Your whining has gotten very, very old.

    – Let’s be honest, the only stat that matters is a championship.

  56. Don’t do it. Until they can perfectly describe the division between pass interference and no pass interference I don’t have any interest in making it replay eligible. It is just an opportunity for more second guessing. For every call that is correctly overturned there will be one that is blown by the replay officials.

  57. Nobody wants review of every potential holding call. There’d be a penalty on every play.

    PI, on the other hand, is such a huge game changer that I think it merits extra scrutiny. If a judgment call can grant massive chunks of field position, let’s make sure they get it right.

  58. johngaltwho says:
    Sep 20, 2016 10:13 AM
    While the Packers and Rodgers stunk up the field all night on Sunday, that phantom PI to end the game prematurely was unbelievable. Textbook coverage results in a PI call and a game ending first down. Im not sure more replays solves everything, perhaps make anything reviewable in the last two minutes of a half but a little semblance of consistency would be appreciated. The no-call in the MNF game was just as ridiculous – textbook PI (running thru the receiver without even pretending to locate the ball).

    And strangely enough coleman was flagged for that exact same play NE vs Mia.

    Like gusts of wind, sun in your eyes and slippery fields, refs are the random elements teams must overcome. Unlike the 1st 3, only refs have agendas and preferences. If we can fly drones for ma thousand miles away we should be able to do better with video and a team of refs in one room where they can be monitored by a ref overlord of sorts. I’m not saying this will make it perfect but at leat we’d have one group, hopefully on the same page so there’s some parity in officiating. The stats on Hochuli and the Broncos are, ad should be, an embarrassment.

  59. “…the decision not to give the Eagles the ball at the spot of the foul was not only an error but also a correctable one — if the NFL allowed replay review in those circumstances.”

    In which case, replay review would also have to be allowed for other non-calls, such as holding by an offensive lineman that possibly allowed the QB a deep pass completion.

    See how fast the argument completely disintegrated?

  60. I think its laughable that its the Eagles Bears game that gets the article about replay review on PI calls.

    Of course we can’t spoil Jeff Fisher and the LA (Hollywood) Rams return to the Coliseum by actually getting the calls reviewed. Tyler freaking Lockett (pip-sqeak himself) gets an OPI on no contact.

    I’m kinda torn on this, do we slow down the game more? Not a fan of that, but PI needs to be cleaned up on the officiating side more than the player side. Its more subjective than Gymastics at this point.

  61. hawksfannorth says:
    Sep 20, 2016 2:26 PM
    I think its laughable that its the Eagles Bears game that gets the article about replay review on PI calls.

    Of course we can’t spo
    _____________

    Maybe because, A, it was on national television, B, it was so blatant that anybody, even die hard Bears fans saw that play and said, “No Flag? Really?”

    The blog isn’t about the entire game, nor even about “calls”. It’s about a specific call that would of been blatant playing under NFL rules from 20 years ago, and should of been obvious in todays game

  62. Let’s just throw political correctness aside and call it what it is… As Donald Trump would say:
    THE NFL IS RIGGED. Week after week, season after season, the same players and teams get the calls and the W’s. Ebron’s negated touchdown for so called pushing off is the most blatent bad call i have ever seen. The refusal of the NFL to implement a system to reverse obvious bad or no calls can only mean one thing… RIGGED.

    The NFL needs to correct this or be held accountable in a class action suit from all fans for false advertising what the NFL calls their product, a game. A game would mean fair play, rules, fair refereeing and a system to correct bad or non calls. I am sure that most fans agree that it is well worth a few extra minutes to address obvious referee errors that effect the outcome of games no matter if the play is deemed reviewable or not.

    When a bad call can result in points coming off the board or a 60 yard penalty is deemed non reviewable but the spot of a ball that might amount to 1 foot or maybe 1 yard is reviewable… There can only be one explanation… RIGGED!

  63. Maybe because, A, it was on national television, B, it was so blatant that anybody, even die hard Bears fans saw that play and said, “No Flag? Really?”

    The blog isn’t about the entire game, nor even about “calls”. It’s about a specific call that would of been blatant playing under NFL rules from 20 years ago, and should of been obvious in todays game

    ________________________

    Maybe but on the Lockett OPI he didn’t even make contact with the DB, by a foot or so and got flagged, ’twas as blatant as it gets.

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