What will happen with “time” element of the catch rule?

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Much has been said and written this week about the future of the catch rule, which has become more of a punch line than the league ever would have wanted it to be. But as the Competition Committee prepares to recommend major surgery on the catch rule, the committee and, next month, the owners need to be careful not to go too far.

So far, the good news is that the convoluted (or convluted, as Chris Simms would say it) “survive the ground” component of the rule likely won’t survive this offseason. But another aspect of the catch rule could be amputated, too, and that’s the thing that could create unintended consequences.

John Kryk of PostMedia.com suggests that the new catch rule will result in the disappearance of “all the opaque qualifying language used over the years to define a catch, made necessary when the rule includes the counter-intuitive ‘survive the ground’ element — language such as ‘making a football move,’ or ‘becomes a runner.'”

That’s good news generally, but if provisions like “making a football move” or having the ball long enough to “clearly become a runner” go away, what will the NFL use to determine whether a player had the ball long enough for a catch to be completed?

If there’s no time element, plays like the Lee Evans non-catch from the 2011 AFC title game possibly would become a catch, because a catch will be completed the instant the player has two hands on the ball and two feet on the ground, even if the ball instantly gets slapped out of his hands. If there is a time element, what will the time element be?

The broader question the time element whether it will be objective or subjective, and whether if it’s subjective it will be subject to replay review.

It’s a critical aspect of the catch rule, and it’s been as problematic for the league in recent years as the “survive the ground” component.

19 responses to “What will happen with “time” element of the catch rule?

  1. I don’t know why they don’t just make it a judgement call such as pass interference. If it looks like a catch, the ref can make the call, period.

  2. I like someone else’s theory, let a 10 year old watch
    it he thinks its a catch it is a catch.
    It would be a pure thought without all this other
    convoluted mess the NFL has attached.

  3. And using that Lee Evans example – if it’s a catch immediately upon having 2 hands and 2 feet, then wouldn’t it now be a fumble once it’s slapped out of his hands? This needs to be looked at or a lot of incomplete passes could end up as turnovers.

  4. The funny thing is that like Justice Stewart’s test for obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio, “I know it when I see it.” I know a catch when I see it. What should happen is very simple: establish possession (catch the ball) and have two feet inbounds and on the ground. All these other things like time, or football move, or going to the ground shouldn’t even be part of it. Time would slow down the game, because we’d have to be on replay with a stopwatch and that isn’t going to work. The other two haven’t worked and have cost people games. Just use common sense.

  5. Lawyers with all the language is what has messed it up in the first place. Common sense by keeping it simple if it looks like a catch it is a catch. Two feet down and possession, see simple.

  6. The rules are not complicated, fans/players/some coaches are just too lazy to actually learn them. I mean, with the outcry over this, why isn’t there an outcry about how difficult it is to understand why a dropped backward pass is considered a fumble? Why is a running back allowed to grab a defender’s facemask without it being called a facemask penalty? Why is a kickoff allowed to be recovered without the receiving team touching it while a punt is not? These rules are not hard to understand, they are just rules that you need to learn.

    Unfortunately, people are lazy and if it is ruled in favor of the team they aren’t rooting for, they want the rule changed, until the new rule goes against their team in the future.

  7. What looks like a catch to one person may not look like a catch to another person, especially when you have half the fans wanting it to be a completion and half wanting it to be an incompletion. That’s why you can’t have a “if it looks like a catch” standard. All that would result in is constant arguments on boards like this over whether or not it was a catch and whether the officials made a call to help out one team or the other. The rules actually try to eliminate that arbitrary feel to calls so they can be justified. What people are suggesting actually reverses that progress.

    If you truly want that arbitrary feel and debating if officials are helping one team, good for you. I personally would rather the officials have to have rules that eliminate the chance that they’ll arbitrarily rule one way or another.

  8. It’s prefect the way it is. The only people that don’t get it are fans of losing team or losing fantasy team or lost money on the game or a media member that loves controversy.

    Other than that it’s pretty cut and dry and gosh darn clear. The current crowd complaining about catches will complain equally about any changes that they might make too. They are the type that complain. That’s what they do regardless of if they get heard or not. They will continue to complain. They claimed that taking a knee made them stop watching football anyway. Those folks will never be happy unless they are throwing a fit about something and demanding something to be changed for their sake.

  9. Easy, possession of the ball (which means enough time to “possess” the ball) and two feet down equals catch.

  10. I never understood the whole “keep the catch through the completion of the play” deal. If a receiver catches the ball, gets his feet down, goes out of bounds and drops the ball, how is that not a catch

  11. No rule will be perfect. For me, I’m sick of the inconsistent interpretations of a “football move”. The benefits of “catch, two feet, done” outweigh the shortcomings that may lead to increased fumbles. Keep it simple stupid!

  12. .
    The Evens play is a good example because everyone agrees that it was not a catch. Throughout the season there are a plethora of similar plays. There has to be some type of “catch and secure” element to the rule.

  13. To those of you who are saying that the rules are clear and people just need to learn the rules are missing the point, in my opinion. I understand the catch rule. According to that rule, Dez Bryant didn’t catch the ball. I understand that. My problem is that any rule that determines that Dez didn’t catch the ball is a bad rule and needs to be fixed for the good of the game.

    I am not a Cowboys fan in the least, but I am a fan of rewarding players for making good, athletic plays.

  14. For years it was simple. Can’t jostle the ball, Can’t let it touch the ground. Two feet down. Period. Why did we change it? Oh right, because Calvin Johnson did his “Mike drop” catch and for some reason, the league felt the need to eventually legitimize that nonsense.

  15. Butch Johnson caught a back breaking TD in the SB over the Broncos; he had that ball for 1/2 a second.

    The Vikings got kicked out of the playoffs in 72 and a bogus interception that the DB dropped ruled an INT on the field.

    The catch rule should stay as it is and clearly say if the receiver takes two steps, any stumbling, falling, twisting two steps it is catch. End zone would need two feet and 1 second so a slap out would only count if done immediately.

    Lee Evans had a catch, as did Dez and Calvin Johnson twice.

    A side note would be smart coaches would teach receivers to roll on to their back so the ball doesn’t touch the ground.

  16. Here you go again with what if’s. Pass is in the air don’t matter how many yards. Receiver has arm or arms around ball or securely in one or both hands. Both feet have touched ground after securing ball. It’s a catch. Don’t matter if receiver took step or steps. It’s a catch. Receiver is going toward ground in or out of bounds after catch and ball is moving in receivers arms, it’s still a catch. Receiver hits ground and ball is still on his body or in his hands or cradled in his arms. It’s a catch.

    If a runner or receiver loses ball from hitting the ground it’s a fumble or if out of bounds it’s not a catch. Note, a runner in bounds loses the ball from hitting ground and the whistle has not sounded it’s an old fashion fumble. Free ball. Defense recovers and is rewarded with a turn over. Offense recovers, it’s still their ball from spot of recovery and if pass the first down marker, guess what, it’s a first down.

    It’s not rocket science it’s football.

  17. The rule as is, is not perfect… but it is clear and messing with it now makes no sense. If they change it to anything that resembles the past catch rule or no time element as to what kind of time needs to take place before a catch is a catch then any time a ball is caught , two hands & two feet down even for a millisecond then you have now removed the defenseless receiver rule and the NFL will go back to the monster hits as a receiver is not defenseless once he has possession & a whole new bag of crap is opened & the NFL & C.E.T and player safety will take precedence again ….changing the catch rule now opens up and makes another step to Football NFL football being played with red flags attached to the belt …..

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