Walt Coleman: Don’t blame the refs for catch rule fiascos

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As the catch rule changes, one prominent referee sees no real change to how the play will be called on the field.

“Most of the calls that seemed to create the most controversy, we ruled them correctly and then they were overturned on replay,” referee Walt Coleman said Friday, per the Associated Press, in connection with the annual pre-training camp gathering of game officials. “From our standpoint, we’re just going to continue to officiate the plays like we have.”

It’s a stunningly candid assessment, and a somewhat tactful was of saying, “Don’t blame us.” And it has indeed been the excruciating, frame-by-frame application of replay review that has supplanted know-it-when-you-see-it common sense with a micromanaging of decisions made in real time.

The new rule combines objectivity and subjectivity to make it harder to overturn a ruling on the field of a catch and easier to overturn a ruling of a non-catch. Which should lead to more catches. Which is what everyone seems to want.

“People just didn’t understand that you had to hold on to the ball going to the ground,” Coleman said of the former rule. “When you catch the ball and you reach out, everybody thought that should be a catch. The way the rule was written, it wasn’t.”

It’s not that people didn’t understand the prior rule. It’s that people thought the prior rule conflicted with common sense. The new rule doesn’t, if it’s applied in a common-sensical way.

16 responses to “Walt Coleman: Don’t blame the refs for catch rule fiascos

  1. Just do away with instant replay. Go with the call on the field. Live or die by it. IR is only for media air time anyway. Can’t we just play football?

  2. The worst call all year was the Myles Jack fumble return TD that was whistled dead.

    It could not be more simple: Let the play happen and then review it.

    When you blow the whistle you are negating most of the review before it happens. I don’t think it was the Illuminati helping the Patriots, it was just a very bad call on the field.

  3. Not a good sign the refs will do their jobs any better, no matter WHAT rules change. It is just NEVER their fault no matter what (bad) calls they make. This is why I watch fewer games. Same thing with the NBA. And changing strike zones in MLB.

  4. I sympathize to the anti-IR argument but I can’t agree.

    Anyways, Excluding whoever called the Calvin Johnson rule, I get the feeling most people blame the Competition Committee instead of refs – and whoever else was directly and/or indirectly responsible for modifying the rules of a catch.

  5. NEVER understood why this is so difficult for the NFL. Just apply the rule folks use on playgrounds from the time they are kids – two feet down (or a butt/knee) in bounds and full possession of the ball.

    That’s all folks…………..

  6. A penalty in one game is not a penalty in another. Consistency Walt Consistency,

  7. Bailing out the patriots? He was the ref involved in deflate gate. So how do u figure he bailed the pats out.

  8. No idea of No instant replay won’t work. Back when there wasn’t instant replay, they could make the call and that was it. Unless there was film there was no way to dispute the call.
    When the NFL went a year without instant replay in `1996, it was a problem. The Bills-Jags playoff game ( which turned out to be Jim Kelly’s last game ) Kelly ran for a first down and what should have been position for a game winning field goal. The ball came out , the Jags recovered. The Refs didn’t make a call and went into a huddle on the field. The jumbotron was showing the replay while the refs were conferring and it clearly showed both knees on the ground before he fell on the ball and it rolled out. The refs decided they couldn’t use the replay ( since they were not in the rules) and ruled it a fumble. It cost the Bills the playoff game.

  9. liberalsruineverything says:
    July 13, 2018 at 9:21 pm
    Not a good sign the refs will do their jobs any better, no matter WHAT rules change. It is just NEVER their fault no matter what (bad) calls they make.

    And its happened since the beginning of sports. Only difference is now we have a million camera angles in 4k super slo-mo “instantly” showing us that the ref possibly couldn’t see everything at full speed from the lone position he was standing in.

    Refs are human. They are also doing a 100x better job than you or I could do out there. We may not like that they aren’t perfect, but unless you want a 10 hour game with a review after every play, you’re never going to get it perfect.

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