NFL unlikely to cap pass interference penalties at 15 yards

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Among the many topics of discussion as the NFL world begins to descend on Indianapolis for the Scouting Combine is whether to change the pass interference rule so that the maximum penalty is 15 yards, as is the case in college football.

That has been discussed before and the NFL has always declined to change the rule, preferring instead to keep defensive pass interference as a spot foul. And it’s unlikely that the NFL will change the rule this year, either.

NFL rules changes almost always favor the offense, and especially passing offense. A rule change that would favor the defense would be very out of character for the league, particularly after the 2017 season, when passing and scoring were down, and television ratings were down simultaneously. If anything, the NFL is going to lean toward changing rules to encourage more offense and more scoring.

Capping pass interference at 15 yards would do the opposite: It would allow defensive backs who are burned on deep passes to dive at a receiver’s legs and try to trip him before he can get the ball, knowing that a 15-yard penalty is a lot better than a 50-yard reception.

The league may consider two types of pass interference, with flagrant interference remaining a spot foul but incidental interference capped at 15 yards. But it seems unlikely that the NFL would want to add more subjectivity to enforcement of a penalty that fans and defensive backs alike already complain is enforced too inconsistently.

So the smart money is on pass interference rules staying exactly as they are. Plenty of peple don’t like the rule, but few can agree on the best way to fix it.

56 responses to “NFL unlikely to cap pass interference penalties at 15 yards

  1. 50% of Eli Manning’s career yardage can be attributed to DPI. Mara would never let that rule go away.

  2. This is one of the only rule changes I would actually be for. Trying to get PI seems to be many receivers #1 option anymore. They don’t even make good effort towards the ball, but try and have plenty of effort to exaggerate contact, its getting near basketball levels.

    Even tho it wasn’t fun watching Antonio Brown make all those amazing catches against the Jags, I have to respect that he was pretty much going for the catch most times. I guess that shows the difference between a truly talented receiver and what the rest of them are.

  3. How about spot foul the opposite direction for offensive interference. Like say the typical underthrown ball where cornerback is trailing trying to catch up then the receiver turns back and goes through defender on purpose to draw flag. Call that 40 yards other way!

  4. I remember when Bill Polian was pissed at Ty Law in the AFC Championship-he had the point of emphasis placed on DPI during the next rules committee meeting. The following season, the Pretty Colts galloped into Gillette Stadium on a Sunday afternoon for the Divisional Round-with Sugar Plum Fairies and the AFC Championship dancing in their heads-Because they were going to beat the Patriots !!-and they subsequently got their behinds kicked in 20-3.

    Tedy Brusci pondered after the game if they were going to next change the rules on snow.

  5. Keeping the spot foul would be just fine as long as the referees could call pass interference the same way every game even when Richard Sherman is playing.

  6. No penalty changes the game more than this one. No
    penalty has such a broad range on interpretation by officials
    than this penalty. Many times there is contact, some of which is
    initiated by the offensive player, who seems to get bit more
    leeway. Many times there is contact and the pass is 20 yards over
    the players head.
    This penalty needs to stop changing games. The best way is to limit
    the penalty to 15 yards. I don’t like the following but maybe it can be
    enforced like the roughing the kicker/ running into the kicker.
    If the penalty is an obvious penalty where the DB committed the penalty
    to stop a TD…then make it a spot foul. I don’t like it but I am tired of seeing
    so many offensive pass interference games…change an outcome.
    From one game to another ..it seems as if different crews have different
    interpretations of defensive holding and pass interference.
    Then we get to playoffs where it seems the rules are relaxed. So
    don’t let officials change games limit the penalty to 15 yards.,

  7. I for one do not like the spot foul, I hope this statement
    helps others on the fence about this rule, thank for your support.

  8. I like the rule the way it is. One day, all the refereeing will be done from guys in a booth watching monitors, and relaying the calls down to the field in real time. It will actually speed up the game, and all the calls will be correct.

  9. They can solve this problem easily by making pass interference a reviewable play. The problem with pass interference is when a team gets a 50-yard penalty on a bad call. There are good reasons not to make it a 15-yard penalty, so let’s cut down on the number of PIs that shouldn’t have been called. No other penalty has such a huge effect on a game.

  10. I’m glad you said it. Rules changes favor the offense, and have for decades. I would love to see modern QBs and offenses have to play when the balance was a little better. I know fans like scoring, but some of us also like when teams have to earn it.

  11. Another rune that the college game gets right, but the NFL lags behind on.

    Bill Walsh lobbied for this for years, after the Niners got sacked by a horrendous PI call for major yardage at the end of a playoff game against the REDSKINS. As usual, Bill was right – that rule should have been changed decades ago. Which means the NFL will probably do nothing, they could screw up of coffee.

  12. Capping pass interference at 15 yards would do the opposite: It would allow defensive backs who are burned on deep passes to dive at a receiver’s legs and try to trip him before he can get the ball, knowing that a 15-yard penalty is a lot better than a 50-yard reception.

    When nowadays a DB and a WR clash downfield, the WR gets up, throws his arms up, and gets a flag which in turn gets him a 50 yard reception. How is that better?

  13. There’s pros and cons to both sides on this one.

    I’m personally better with the way it is and dealing with teams getting a questonable huge chunk of yardage every now and then. Versus defenders blatantly interfering a receiver because the 15 yards is a lesser punishment than if they let the receiver catch the ball, which would happen if they get cap the yardage

  14. Here’s where the current rule stinks:
    Say your team is winning 10-3 And your opponent hasn’t moved the ball all day cause either they stink or your D is playing tremendous football….
    All of a sudden late in the 4th quarter the QB from your opponents team just throws up a prayer and one of the refs throws a flag giving them a 63 yrd penalty even though they haven’t even probably gained 63 yds of offense the entire game.
    This is a rule that should’ve been changed a long time ago. You should have to earn yards and points not have them given to you by judgement calls.

  15. Get rid of half the distance to the goal. And put it at the 1. If the offense is backed up inside their own 2 yard line and they get any penalty other than holding (in the endzone) add the yardage onto their yards to gain for a first down instead of moving them back half a yard.

  16. artliedtocleveland says:
    February 27, 2018 at 6:47 pm

    So basically if they change this rule then Tom BRady will have to retire. He either dumps it off or throws downfield for a PI. Two Yard Tom
    ———————

    Come back when you have actually watched a Patriots game.

    Better yet, don’t come back.

  17. You could go out and dive at a QB’s knee, looking to injure him and get him out of the game and it’s a 15 yard penalty, even if you’ve just ended his season. Yet if you fail to look back at the ball and then brush the receiver before the ball is there it could be a 50+ yard penalty. Never really made sense to me. And it gets even worse when you have players going down on the slightest contact looking to draw the penalty.

  18. The real problem is the Green Bay Cheese Cheater loophole that has an ENTIRE offense predicated on stealing yards they can’t earn otherwise by exploiting pre-snap defensive penalties for PROFIT.

    The NFL must either call defensive pre-snap penalties as dead ball ones and then assess only the penalty yards or allow the defense to profit from offensive pre-snap penalties including go after the QB to force interceptions, bad throws, or fumbles.

    It is time this game is called fairly and to prevent that fraud Green Bay QB from going to the HOF based on his ability to steal free plays and to gain yards he is never capable of earning otherwise.

  19. yeah and getting 60 yard pass interference penalties, or 1st and goals at the 1 when in the redzone are just great for the game too.

  20. If you are going to change it to 15 yards then limit how many PI calls a defender can get before they get thrown out of the game. Set it at 2 or 3. Should solve deliberate PIs when they get burned. Also make it a reviewable play given how many bogus PI calls there are.

  21. handsomerob86 says:
    February 27, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    This is one of the only rule changes I would actually be for. Trying to get PI seems to be many receivers #1 option anymore. They don’t even make good effort towards the ball, but try and have plenty of effort to exaggerate contact, its getting near basketball levels.
    _____________________________________

    Your complaint with WR’s is valid but it makes a compelling argument for the creation of an unsportsman like/embellishment penalty rather than a change to the DPI rule. I think most of us are sick of watching all the shameless histronics of the divas. We have reached a point where every non catch that happens with a defender in the same area code results in high theater.

  22. Maybe making it a 15 yard penalty, (not automatic 1st down) and replay the down might allow the refs to call it more often, since it isn’t as draconian. Possibly the defensive coaches might then teach their DB’s not to interfere.

  23. How about it be a 15 yard penalty but if the catch is caught and there was P.I. the 15 gets added on. That would stop making it such a worthwhile gamble by DB’s.

  24. The NFL is rigged. Go back and look at the direction of the ball on field goals last year. You can see the ball slightly being jerked in the direction that the league wants it to go. Go back and watch the big plays in the super bowls. The ball seems to levitate in the air to create the opportunity for a big play. Big plays sell! Watch the David Tyree catch in the super bowl. Watch the Edelman catch in the super bowl.

  25. So basically QB’s will still just chuck it deep the majority of the time knowing that there will be a 95% of their being PI on the play. That takes a lot of skill to do so.

  26. They have placed D-players in the Secondary at a big disadvantage
    with the way the rules read, and are applied. It is tantamount to
    saying, ‘you should allow the WR to catch the ball, and only then
    try and tackle him, but only after he has taken a few steps.’

    It’s not a viable competitive expectation. The rules should allow for defensive players more latitude, in order to have more of an opportunity to break up the play, without incurring a penalty.

    The OC’s having plays specifically designed to draw a defensive
    pass interference penalty is proof that something needs to be changed.

    The more the league tries to appeal to the casual viewer, the more
    irritating it is for avid football fans, who enjoy watching great
    plays made on offense, as well as defense.

    As it is, the rules are skewed too much towards the offense’s favor.

  27. Vegas will never go for this…

    When rules are changed or implemented…the first thing that should cross your mind is will Vegas benefit or not…

    This rule change would result in closer games…and close games are the biggest enemy of Teaser bets…which is where the sharp money is most valuable…it’s more of a long term approach…and more realistic too…

    10 years ago you saw one or two double digit spreads on any given week…now, that number is more like four or five…it’s the only way to combat dynasties like the Patriots…or the consistency of QBs like Manning or Rodgers who win 10+ games every year they’re healthy…

  28. “Seems unlikely that the NFL would want to add more subjectivity to enforcement”…really, considering the refs don’t even know what a catch looks like.

  29. Passes less than 25 yards get a 15 yard penalty and automatic first down. Passes greater than 25 yards, offense gets choice of 15 yds and a 1st down or a spot foul and a 3rd and 2 (or something to that effect)???

    Crunch time bombs would not be so automatic that they get 4 fresh downs on a suspect call, but they still can get an easy field goal so defenses need to be careful. Shorter passes remain close to current rule in a crowded part of the field where offense is less likely to try and exploit. In the case of passes around 25 yards, the DB needs to be hesitant enough to not have the 15 yards convert to the spot foul.

    Just thinking out loud but this part of the game has diminished my enjoyment over the years as players get better at drawing penalties and DBs seem to grab every play. That said, I hoped for full 15 minute overtime, so I usually do not like gimmicky rule changes.

  30. A point of emphasis is needed for balls to actually be catchable before you call PI.

    I hate seeing a flag thrown on a pass that the receiver would need to have a 9 foot vertical leap to be able to catch in bounds. Also increase OPI to 15 yards.

  31. DBs trip WRs now to stop Tds so for those using that for a reason doesn’t make much sense.

    The last thing the league needs to do is make them judgment calls. What if they made it 15 yards until after you pass the 50 yard line? From Mid field make it a spot foul. It would take out huge field changing penalties from QBs tossing up prayers.

  32. Get rid of the pick routes too. If an OC can’t design a play without a pick to get WR’s open get a new job.

  33. Defensive pass interference needs to remain a “spot foul.”

    What needs to change is the definition of defensive pass interference.

    For me, I always have felt that if the d-back turns his head and tries to acquire the ball with his eyesight to make a play on it… then there is no pass interference (barring an intentional shove, or other similar action, to the receiver so that he is prevented from making a legitimate play on the ball). Now, that being said, I still think that d-backs should be allowed to “face guard/watch the receivers eyes” and extend a hand to break-up the pass without the “requirement” to turn the head and acquire the ball.

    On a similar note; I also believe that ALL plays should be able to be challenged (a limited number of times per game) by a head coach. Perhaps two challenges per game with an extra being awarded if a challenge is proven correct.

  34. Adding more subjectivity? Adding more variation with the yardage for personal fouls(a little taunt is 15 but knocking a QB’s head off is 15 too?) and PI(15 for regular PI, spot foul fo rflagrant PI kind of like a penalty shot in hockey vs a power play) will actually help reduce the difference in fairness of calls. Take the JAX-PAts playoff game. Maybe that PI gets called a 15 yarder instead of a spot foul. And maybe JAX gets a 15 yarder of their own if the ref doesnt have to feel like he has to make an all or nothing call and swallows his whistle. If there is less variation, then the refs can be more consistent inthe calls even if the punishment can have some variations. This way, in most cases, an unfair PI call will only give 15 yards at most.

  35. OPI AND DPI Penalties should be equal. If you give away yardage on offensive you should have an equal penalty for defensive. OPI should be a spot with a change of possession.

  36. I’d keep it a spot foul but make it reviewable and not have incidental or ticky tack touching be the cause of a PI penalty.

    But one rule they should change is the change of possession if you fumble the ball through the endzone while going for a touchdown. That is a horrible rule where you take the ball away from the offense who was ready to score a TD. Maybe you spot the ball 10 yards behind the prior line of scrimmage with the loss of down.

  37. handsomerob86 says:
    February 27, 2018 at 6:39 pm
    This is one of the only rule changes I would actually be for. Trying to get PI seems to be many receivers #1 option anymore. They don’t even make good effort towards the ball
    ////////
    Pretty ridiculous comment. And a lot of you like it. You think the #1 option of a WR is to get interference and to not catch the ball? That’s what you literally said.

  38. How can anybody want this rule to be done away with? It would be a huge advantage of d backs to only get a 15 yard penalty on a deep ball. Cover the guy, knock the ball away, give up a huge pass, intercept the ball, destroy the guy before the ball gets there. Those are your options. But you want to add a small penalty for not giving up a deep pass. Nope. It stays the same.

  39. PI is an important tool used to allow the league to swing games for the desired result. The league won’t weaken their ability to alter games.

  40. fmc651 says:
    February 28, 2018 at 2:00 am
    I would like to see the automatic first down on a 5 yard penalty gone too.
    /////////
    A lot of those penalties are holding the receiver because the DB just got burned on a move. Without the hold, the DB would be giving up a huge play. It deserves to be a first down, and probably a 10 yard hold, like on offense.

  41. holeinone09 says:
    February 28, 2018 at 7:08 am

    But one rule they should change is the change of possession if you fumble the ball through the endzone while going for a touchdown. That is a horrible rule where you take the ball away from the offense who was ready to score a TD. Maybe you spot the ball 10 yards behind the prior line of scrimmage with the loss of down.
    ////////
    Completely agree on this one. The defense never recovered the ball, why should they get the ball? It should be like when it goes out of bounds. The last team to have possession should get the ball. However, with the end zone, it should be like a touchback. Offense keeps possession, but at the 20 yard line.

  42. I hate when pass interference in the end zone gives the offense the ball at the one yard line. It’s like GIVING the offense a TD. How about placing the ball at the 5 or the 10 yard line in this case. Any PI outside of the endzone remains a post foul.

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