Spike in defensive pass interference fouls doesn’t justify changing the rule

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Although the Competition Committee doesn’t support changing defensive pass interference from a spot foul to a 15-yard infraction, momentum exists for changing the rule anyway, supposedly.

Here’s where the supposed momentum potentially comes from: As noted by Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay said that last year’s defensive pass interference calls spiked from a 15-year average of 234 to 303.

That’s fine, but an uptick in defensive pass interference doesn’t justify making the foul result in less field position; that would serve only to create an incentive to commit more defensive pass interference penalties. Which would result in not fewer but (wait for it) more defensive pass interference penalties.

There are plenty of potential reasons for an increase in defensive pass interference penalties. Maybe the officials aren’t calling the foul properly. Maybe coaches aren’t properly teaching technique to defensive players. Regardless, the current consequence for committing pass interference by a defensive player logically can’t be resulting in more pass interference penalties, since that should be a deterrent and not an incentive.

Without knowing the cause(s) of an increase in the occurrence of defensive pass interference, there’s no reason to change the rule. And with no specific incident or embarrassment (like the catch rule) or safety-related reason (like making the 25-yard touchback rule permanent) for making a change, why should a change be even considered?

The fact that the discussion is even happening will make fans and media more sensitive to an issue that shouldn’t really be an issue, resulting in criticism during the season of something that really hasn’t been criticized. Yes, fans and/or media criticize bad pass interference calls or non-calls, but no one criticizes the yardage attached to the foul.

Moving forward, there’s a good chance plenty will. And maybe that’s what the proponents of the change want. The best way to turn some momentum into enough momentum will be to get more and more people agitating for change. And sometimes the best way to get people to agitate for change is to flag the issue publicly and let nature take its course.

27 responses to “Spike in defensive pass interference fouls doesn’t justify changing the rule

  1. more or less DPI calls i don’t feel like is the issue here…

    I think it simply doesnt ‘feel right’ when a ref gives a team 50+ yards on a play they did not make… especially when they go from their end of the field to score.

    dpi or not, the catch was far from a guaruntee. 15 and a first down is plenty fair imo

  2. .
    If they’re going to keep pass interference as a spot foul, it should be reviewable. Some PI penalties are 40+ yards and can completely change a game. In addition, these calls are very difficult for an official to make. You’re asking a middle aged man to keep up with the likes of Antonio Brown and Jalen Ramsey sprinting downfield in their customary 4.4/40 times, and to keep abreast of every tug and hand check. It’s putting the officials in a position to fall. Allowing a review would alleviate the most egregious of errors.

  3. Agree with no change. In my not so humble opinion, interference calls in 2017 were not very closely called. In fact, I concluded the officials had been instructed to ease up on calls. Defenses can’t stop the passing game yet, so help them by lax enforcement. And, holding while ball is is air is not a holding call, but interference. etc, etc.

  4. Receivers lobby for a flag after every incompletion. How many times do we see the ref toss a flags 2-3 seconds after the play is over?

  5. If they change the defensive pass interference rules where would the Baltimore Ravens offense be? Joe Flacco would be robbed of his best offensive move, the long PI call.

  6. No one cares how often it happens. What people care about is that the punishment does not fit the crime. DPI is being called on guys hand checking one another while the pass sails 12 yards overhead and BAM – offense just got 45 yards. It’s ridiculous.

  7. Yeah the gripe isn’t with the volume bro, but with the way it seems to be called in ways and at times that take the air out of what was an exciting football game. And it is very clear when a team goes for a long pass play just asking the refs to bail them out with a flag. It makes the games less fun, which is like the exact opposite of what people want

  8. I don’t like the current rule when the Seahawks are on Defense. I like it when their Offense is on the field.

    I have been mulling this for many years and think I would favor changing the rule to a spot foul up to 20 yards and auto first down. Anything over 20 yards down field results in 20 yards/1st down. This would still be a significant penalty, but the 50-60 yard gains on a subjective call/non would go away. Might not be fair to the offense, but heck, the rules already are so much in their favor.

  9. It’s not the increase in calls that should be the impetus to change this rule. It’s the fact that when Refs get it wrong, like they did a few years back in a Packers Lions game where Nevin Lawson was flagged for like a 70 yard PI call that the league later admitted was incorrect, it’s a freakin 70 yard penalty that shouldn’t have happened. Real time calls made by a 60 year old man who is out of breath from running down field and 20 yards away from the play shouldn’t be determining whether to award the offense 70 yards. 15 yards I can live with them getting it wrong. Spot foul on deep bombs you have to get it right.

  10. The game was far more entertaining when DBs were allowed to hand fight and have incidental contact/bump some with the receivers. That was real football and receivers had to be tough to make a lot of catches, not the sanitized, don’t even look the wrong way at a receiver or breathe on him version we have now.

  11. Quarterbacks are incentivized to just chuck it 40 yards during the end of the expecting to get a call just to get walked down the field by the referees. The refs should never be responsible for more than 25% of offensive field position on one stand alone play.

  12. There is really no way to review a pass interference penalty. It is similar to holding. You can probably call it on most plays viewed in slow motion because there is almost always some degree of contact.
    I don’t think the added scrutiny is bad. We will get a feel for the number of +20 yard interference penalties and there impact on games.

  13. As a fan, and maybe I didn’t pay attention in the past to closely when I was younger, but I get tired of all the rule changes. It seems like they are constantly tinkering with a good thing. Now there is/have been talks about eliminating kickoffs. That is changing the game dramatically. Sometimes I wish they would leave it alone. It seems like there is always some kind of change or tension under Goodell’s leadership. I watch football for entertainment and the drama on the field, not off the field.

  14. It’s called a penalty for a reason folks. If there is no penalty to stop it, which a 15 yard rule is, they’ll do it all day long.

    People really don’t think realistically.

    It’s supposed to hurt, in order to dis-incentivize players from cheating and towards actually playing the game.

    Even with the current rule if a guy is blowing wide open for a 70 yard TD, it might be only a 35 yard penalty.

    If anything, the rule still isn’t harsh enough.

    This 15 yard rule is a joke, and if it ever passed, it would be another reason fans would think the NFL is rightly going down the tubes.

  15. Hey, but if they are going to change the rule, perhaps make it a layered penalty. I think it should be a hefty penalty because we know if it is not, then DBs will think 15 or 20 iis better than 50 so the penalty has to hurt bad to deter the DBs from committing the penalty. If football is a sport of constant rule changing these days, then place a maximum cap on it of 30 yards and a automatic first down or at the spot of the foul if lesser than 30 yards. Also, if the foul happens outside of the red zone, the spot can be no closer than the 5 yard line. If the foul occurs within the red zone then it is the spot of the foul or at the one yard line if the foul occurs in the end zone. Always an automatic first down to keep the DBs in check.

  16. So should we be changing the rule for offensive pass interference as well? Maybe that should be a 50 yard penalty against the offense since they may have prevented an interception.

  17. Make offensive pass interference a spot a negative play equivalent to the yards from scrimmage where it happened. Yep, that doesn’t make sense either. I support making it a fixed penalty for offense and defense, say 20 yards. Make illegal pick plays the same.

  18. The 15-yard penalty works well in high school and college and there are still plenty of big pass plays. This is a way to keep refs from determining the outcome of the game. So many drives and games now are given to the offense. I was watching a drive during a Pats game this year where EVERY 3rd and 4th down play was DPI until they finally ran out of field.

  19. The problem has nothing to do with increase. The reason tomchange it is because PI is arbitrary and a opinion foul not a fact foul. You have refs giving huge 30, 45 yard first downs on extremely questionable PIs. 15 yards makes way more sense even if it results in more PI. The game is so poorly officiated already you can’t keep giving refs this extreme power that changes entire field position on one highly questionable call.

  20. “Maybe the officials aren’t calling the foul properly.”

    Maybe?? A large part of the PI kerfuffle could be addressed simply by enforcing the rule as it exists. In order for there to be PI the ball needs to be catchable. It used to be a couple of times a game we’d see a PI flag picked up because the ball wasn’t catchable. Now it seems any ball in the same zip code is deemed catchable. We routinely see balls thrown 2 yards oob draw flags. It’s ridiculous to the point that it seems to be part of some offense’s playbooks. Enforcing a reasonable standard of what is catchable and making PI beyond 15 yards subject to automatic review would reverse the trend right quick.

    2 types of DPI:

    • Flagrant: spot of the foul
    • non- flagrant: 15 yards


  22. I like the 15-yard penalty more than the spot foul. But I HATE the automatic first down part.

    Seems like any time an offense gets backed up with a holding penalty, they call a “heave and hope” pass play aimed at getting a PI call.

    While I’m at it, why does defensive holding net an automatic first down? Why not change so that offensive holding = defensive holding: 10 yards from scrimmage, no spot foul, and no automatic first down?

  23. The way the rule is now, you would have to be an idiot not to draft Josh Allen #1 overall. Did you see his pro day? He’s chuckin’ the ball 80 yards down field with accuracy! You could win running Kamar Aiken out on 9 routes and hitting him in the head until concussion protocol.

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