Officials missed clear and obvious neutral zone infractions in Jaguars-Titans game

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The NFL’s decision to focus only on “clear and obvious” fouls apparently doesn’t extend to neutral zone infractions.

The neutral zone is defined as, basically, the length of the football. Defenders can’t line up with their hands between the front and back of the ball.

Well, they can; the question is whether they’ll be caught when they do it.

On several occasions during Pittsburgh’s Week One win over the Giants, it appeared that linebacker T.J. Watt was lined up dangerously close to, if not smack dab in the middle of, the neutral zone. On two separate plays during crunch time of Sunday’s Jaguars-Titans game, Tennessee defensive end Jadeveon Clowney lined up clearly and obviously in the neutral zone.

The first instance came on a third and nine, with the game tied at 30. Clowney hurried Jacksonville quarterback Gardner Minshew, who threw an incompletion that forced a punt.

Then, after Tennessee took a 33-30 lead and with the Jaguars trying to get in position to force overtime (or in theory to win the game in regulation with a touchdown), Clowney lined up even farther beyond the point of the ball on a second and one play from the Jacksonville 45. Although he didn’t affect the play, a penalty would have wiped out a game-clinching interception, giving the Jaguars five yards and a first down.

If you have access to the NFL’s excellent Gamepass feature, go see it for yourself. The first one seems clear; the second one seems beyond obvious. And if fouls like this aren’t going to be called, then every edge rusher needs to take full advantage of the extra few inches that come from lining up in the neutral zone.

8 responses to “Officials missed clear and obvious neutral zone infractions in Jaguars-Titans game

  1. Jaguars fans are use to getting the short end of the stick with the refs just look at the 2017 playoff game where our player was down when it was clear he was 3 feet away from any player when he got possession of the ball. I’m just glad the Jaguars are finally important enough for the media to care about us getting the short end of the stick.

  2. What even does “clear and obvious” mean? ALL penalty calls should always be clear and obvious because if they aren’t there is uncertainty about whether there really was an infraction, thus they shouldn’t be called.

  3. The officiating is much worse this season. On one play against the Giants this week, Khalil Mack had two guys guarding him, and not only did they both hold him on this same play, one also grabbed his face mask and had illegal hands to his face. All on one play. No call. 4 different infractions. No call. So now NFL is bragging about how scoring is on a record pace. No wonder, since defenses are being stifled with blatant holding that isn’t being called. After week 1, holding calls on the OLine was down 78% across the league. Didn’t seem to improve in week #2 from what I saw. I don’t see how this improves the game.

  4. We have heard for years about how players are bigger and faster. That would naturally lead to penalties being more difficult to track, if things are moving faster. Yet, have that added any officials? I understand there are a lot of concerns about the refs, many of which are legit. But, maybe if they had 2-3 more on a team of refs, they could spread the responsibilities around a little more, so that those who are watching for certain infractions could focus in more on those areas and call a better game.

    Of course, it is also entirely possible that the NFL decided to pump up the offense, to help draw in casual fans and fantasy football fans, and told the refs to only whistle egregious calls, and the refs have taken that too far.

  5. I don’t know what the answer is but how can the line judge miss that unless he’s just asleep. That line judge needs to be replaced. Perhaps they need to have a pool of extra referees and if you do poorly in a game you get benched and do not pass go and do not collect your $10k or whatever is it for refereeing a game. Losing money will get their attention.

  6. Weird for them to ignore this infraction now. Wish they would have ignored it when Dee Ford did it in the AFC Championship a couple years ago.

  7. Almost every player is still when the snap cadence is being called…no motion and no margin for error…and yet…

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