It’s a new Wednesday tradition on PFT Live. It’s called After Further Review, and it focuses on several of the biggest calls from the week that was.
Today’s segment, appearing in the embedded video, looks at a wide variety of plays and calls. Two of the calls that we discuss overlap with two of the calls in the sudden return (in recent weeks) of officiating videos from the NFL, with Perry Fewell providing bare-bones, perfunctory analysis of calls that, in all cases, he defends.
Fewell provided a simple explanation of the non-call of defensive pass interference late in the game between Washington and the Raiders. WFT cornerback Bobby McCain pulled the jersey (or undershirt) of Raiders receiver Zay Jones, as Jones was attempting to track the ball.
Fewell contends that there was “no significant hindrance” of Jones. In other words, he wants you to believe that pulling on someone’s jersey (or undershirt) to the point that the material stretches and tugs did not significantly impair Jones’s ability to catch the ball. Think about that logically. You’re running at full speed. You’re trying to focus on a football that has commenced its descent. You feel someone pull your jersey from behind while you’re trying to focus on catching the ball. How is that not a significant hindrance?
As Simms correctly observed, this is the kind of thing that would be called during the first quarter of a game. Often, when the game is on the line, the flag gets buried deep in the pocket. That’s not the way it should be.
The video from Fewell also addresses the ruling, confirmed by replay review, that Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce did not complete the act of catching the ball before it was knocked from his possession, which would have resulted in a fumble recovered by the Broncos. The league continues to focus on the time element, instead of addressing the more appropriate question. Did Kelce perform an act common to the game?
The rule allows for a catch to happen either if the player performs an act common to the game or if he has enough time to do so. If Kelce performed an act common to the game, the time element doesn’t matter.
The problem here comes from the explanation. The officials ruled that the pass was incomplete. The explanation, based on replay review, should have been that there was not clear and obvious evidence that Kelce performed an act common to the game. Just as the ball was tucked, it got knocked out. There was insufficient visual evidence that he’d actually tucked the ball.
So the NFL likely got to the right place. It did so, however, by taking the wrong path. If the league wants its rulings and explanations to have full credibility, it needs to ensure that it takes the right road to the right destination.
That’s a broader observation that applies to the NFL’s effort to inject some (but not much) transparency into its calls. If Fewell (or whoever writes the copy that he’s reading from a prompter) is simply going to defend rulings one after another, he needs to strive to defend them with an accurate explanation.