Could a return of Dean Blandino save replay review for pass interference?

Getty Images

As the NFL closes in on making a decision regarding whether to continue with replay review for pass interference calls and non-calls, one option includes keeping the procedure — and upgrading the person who will be responsible for it.

The possibility of a return to the league office by former senior V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino has lingered for months. He left the NFL just after the league finalized a transition from on-field replay decisions to a global process giving Blandino final say. Al Riveron became the next man up, and he has at times struggled both with the perceptions and the realities of the job.

It began with repeated errors and inconsistencies regarding catch/no-catch decisions, forcing the league to finally create a replay-review-proof formulation that makes the decision far more objective than ever before. This led to a fairly smooth 2018, until the NFC Championship game.

That’s when Riveron failed to realize that there’s a time to follow the rules, and that there’s a time to not follow the rules. In hindsight (and with the application of foresight), Riveron should have stress-fractured the rules by instructing the referee to drop a flag and to call defensive pass interference. If Riveron had, plenty of headache and heartache over the past 13-plus months could have been avoided.

Eventually, the league implemented on a one-year basis replay review for pass interference calls and non-calls in an effort to prevent future Rams-Saints storms of something other than sand. But the 2019 season was marred by the perceptions and realities of an inconsistent standard that shifted and moved throughout the year, with the bar starting at one point and then moving higher and then lower and the ultimately creating a sense that the decisions were being made not via TV images but Magic 8 Ball.

The silver bullet, then, could be to bring back the guy for whom the job was designed. Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com reports that a “cadre of internal advocates” are pushing for the league to pursue Blandino. But even if the league is willing to set aside any lingering hard feelings regarding Blandino’s unexpected exit stage left, the league needs to be willing to dig deeper than it traditionally has for this job.

“I think that there was a sense of, around the league office and some of the people in leadership positions, they didn’t value that position the way it should have been valued, and how important it is,” Blandino told #PFTPM in December 2017. “During the season, other than the Commissioner, the head of officiating is probably the most public-facing person in the office. And those decisions that are made, I mean, these affect the outcome of games, and that’s your product on the field.”

He’s absolutely right. And valuing the position isn’t solely about the money. The person responsible for making the replay-review decisions and explaining all close and controversial calls to the public should be doing only that, during football season. Someone else (like Riveron) should supervise the officiating function and the grading process over which the officials obsess like middle-schoolers looking at their Instagram likes.

It’s a clear and obvious fix, but it’s far from clear and obvious that the league will see what it needs to be done and then do it.

38 responses to “Could a return of Dean Blandino save replay review for pass interference?

  1. Change defensive pass interference to a 15 yard penalty, so that when review inevitably fouls the call up, you aren’t handing the offense 40 yards.

  2. A ball that touches the ground is not a catch. All of the problems started when that was no longer the case.

  3. It doesn’t matter who you put in charge because it’s a flawed system to begin with. Scrap the replay review of PI!

  4. As much as I dislike Blandino, Riveron is incompetent.
    You have amulti-billion dollar industry and Riveron has a senior position?
    In corporate America he would be “reassigned”.

    The problem with Blandion is under him there was a shift to penalties becomoing too ticky yack, with minor violations contantly called.

    This was because of his grading system where refs were penalized for not calling those ticky tack penalties.

  5. The idea that, counter to the rules, the NFL should have remotely called the penalty would be opening up Pandora’s Box. In every single controversial situation, the NFL would be expected to do that and it would just make things worse.

    The true solution would be to realize there were tons of no-calls going both ways that day and tell refs to call postseason games by the same standard they call regular season games.

  6. Maybe once in a while make a decision thats good for the integrity of the game and the actual on-field product, instead of being solely driven by money. Might be surprised to learn that it will actually make your product more valuable.

  7. There are 1000-1500 passes every week. The review process changes one maybe two a week. That’s .1% One in a thousand. Both sides, quit whining. I’d be fine cutting the replay. I’d be fine with the replay (assuming they made it faster like AAF and XFL).

  8. Everybody is an expert now. They slow a play down to frame by frame, half a dozen different angles, and people still disagree on what is the correct call.
    Controversial, close calls at key moments are a good time to make a beer run. You will have time.

    Me, I want PI reviews scrapped.

  9. People are still crying about a bang-bang play in the 2019 NFC Championship Game? Lol
    And you think Riveron shouldve violated the NFL rules and ordered the ref to throw a flag 30 seconds after the play was over, once Riveron had gotten a chance to see 3 slow motion replays of the play? Getouttahere.

  10. “Replay review of pass interference is not worth saving”

    That’s what they want you to think. In 2019 they did their best to kill it… by what has to be intensional incompetence.

    If they same person is making the call, maybe they’ll have some consistency.

  11. People hated Blandino when he was in that job. Turns out he was better than Riveron but not by a whole lot and definitely not respected to the degree where he could “save” this horrible rule. You will never be able to overrule judgment calls without it frequently appearing like you are replacing one iffy call with an equally iffy replay reversal.

  12. I’m tired of the over examination and explanations that the NFL is doing. My take, I don’.t think the refs give a hoot anymore about their calls. Its like, if I get it wrong no problem, some guy in the booth will fix it and all will be good.
    I say let the refs decision be final and stop all this replay and review stuff. It is what it is.

  13. The person responsible for making the replay-review decisions and explaining all close and controversial calls to the public should be doing only that, during football season.

    Sign me up. This would be the easiest part-time job on the planet.

  14. No. The return of Blandino won’t help.

    The problem lies in trying to decide a subjective, imperfect call in an objective, perfect manner. It can’t be done. There will always be disagreements over the call, no matter what is on replay.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The goal should be to prevent egregious mistakes as best as possible – nothing more.

    And the way to do that is review only at full speed. If it’s obvious at full speed, it’s egregious – change the call. If you have to slow it down in order to determine if there was interference, it is clearly NOT egregious.

    Full speed review only, or scrap it. Perfection isn’t possible here.

  15. The procedures are intentionally flawed. No person can help with that without first removing the procedural and circumstantial issues. That said, what makes you think Blandino, a guy who has already demonstrated and equally abysmal track record as Riveron, would do any better. These guys are just pawns executing a plan. The plan is not very well conceived and is only “working” because people are ignoring the obvious.

  16. The rule is fine, it’s the willingness to actually enforce the rule that’s the issue. Referees had their feelings hurt so they protested by not overturning calls out of spite. They’re the issue. They all need to be fired

  17. The rule stinks get rid of it. Slows the game down. If the ref misses the call fine him. Too many fines can him.

  18. Get rid of points of emphasis.. There is nothing more frustrating than watching the first three weeks of the season officiated one way. (See Holding, Landing on the QB, OPI) and then sometime around mid season its just like screw it we will call it sporadically. Consistent rules that is all we want.

  19. Just get a robot that says, “I agree with the call on the field”. That’s all Blandino ever does.

  20. I don’t think you need to make PI a 15 yard penalty as much as you need to get rid of the automatic first downs. Scrap the review and Riveron too,

  21. Lol. Didn’t struggle. Just hard to please every moron when no 2 plays are exactly the same

  22. i WISH THE NFL would scrap the whole replay system. It has never worked and won’t ever work and all it does is create more controversy.

  23. No! We already went over this! You’re promoting Blandino way too much.

  24. -Change defensive pass interference to a 15 yard penalty, so that when review inevitably fouls the call up, you aren’t handing the offense 40 yards.-

    Then the DBs will intentionally foul any time they get beat on a big play. Better to give up 15 than 40… To a small extent they already do this when they know they’re beat and it’s going to result in a TD otherwise (Saints/Rams game.) But make it only a 15 yard penalty and they will be coached to do it whenever possible on big plays down the field when they’re beat.

  25. “Riveron should have stress-fractured the rules by instructing the referee to drop a flag and to call defensive pass interference. If Riveron had, plenty of headache and heartache over the past 13-plus months could have been avoided.”

    Sure, an official in the League Office instructing a referee in a way that breaks the rules in a critical moment wouldn’t have had any repercussions …

    An error of judgement is easy to defend in court, deliberate breaking of the rules not so much!

  26. thewanderer says:
    March 3, 2020 at 11:17 am

    Change defensive pass interference to a 15 yard penalty, so that when review inevitably fouls the call up, you aren’t handing the offense 40 yards.
    ____________________________________________________________

    Sorry, no. Then every long ball that might be caught will result in a mugging.

  27. I vividly remember referring to him as Blindino when he had the job. There must have been a reason for that.

  28. Wanting Blandino back because Riveron is even worse is like beyond stupid. What, is there no one else in America who could do better? Besides, it’s not the person, per se, it’s the rotten corrupt system. Otherwise they would do as the CFL and XFL and put a man in the sky at each game and make the process transparent.

  29. boffo97 says:
    March 3, 2020 at 11:29 am

    The idea that, counter to the rules, the NFL should have remotely called the penalty would be opening up Pandora’s Box. In every single controversial situation, the NFL would be expected to do that and it would just make things worse.

    ________________________________________________________________________

    The rules didn’t stop Riveron from “fixing” Dak Prescott screwing up a coin toss. Dak screwed up and the ref got it right on the field. Riveron trampled on the rules to “fix” it.

  30. The review system for pass interference in the 2019 season was doomed to fail because one fallible human being was the final authority on all the calls. I’m all for not renewing the PI reviews as long as the NFL keeps one element — the timing of the contact between receiver and defender vs. the arrival of the ball. That was the issue in the Rams-Saints 2018 NFC Championship, and it’s an element that’s as objective as inbounds/out-of-bounds, or catch/trap on a low pass. As for Blandino’s rumored return, if the NFL implements the replay system being used in the XFL (which is about as transparent as they come), then why does Blandino have to be part of the package? Given the events that led to Blandino’s resignation from the NFL in May 2017, I’m not sure the NFL would want to rehire him, anyway.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.