clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NFL Competition Committee to focus heavily on instant replay rule changes at next meeting

New, comments

But don't get your hopes up -- they're already making excuses.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Each and every year, the NFL Competition Committee convenes multiple times to discuss potential rule changes for the league. By and large, I haven't had too many problems with most of the recent rule changes in theory, but there is one thing they've been avoiding for years and I think it's getting ridiculous: non-reviewable plays.

Instant replay promises to be a major topic of discussion at the next competition committee meeting, which is set for next week, according to The concept of what is and isn't reviewable under a challenge is so arbitrary I can't believe the rules are even in place as they are. The concept of not being able to review a play in which we have several angles of the football and the best replay technology we can possibly have (thanks to a nearly unlimited budget) is ridiculous.

Yet, it sounds like the competition committee is already making excuses. For instance, NFL executive vice president of football operations, Troy Vincent, said that opening things up too much runs "the risk of creating fouls." That's weird, given that he's essentially suggesting that calling a game properly isn't the ultimate goal. He also suggests that if they change something this offseason, that they may have to change it again in the future and that is a "Pandora's Box."

So yes ... trying to perfect something over the years is the opposite of what the competition committee is looking for, according to Vincent. "Sometimes game speed and rule changes aren't always compatible," Vincent said, and I'm having trouble even understanding what that sentence even means.

Then we turn to Jeff Fisher, current head coach of the St. Louis Rams (you're doing great, Jeff). In a recent Monday Morning Quarterback article, Fisher was asked about replay potentially being used for every type of play, Fisher suggested that teams will use it to call back touchdown passes due to the replay showing holding or hands to the face penalties.

In other words, Fisher is suggesting that calling actual penalties to attention is actually a problem. He's sort of highlighting something we all already knew: holding and hands to the face penalties are a stupidly broken concept in the NFL and they need to define them better. When a guy who has serious ability to enact change is saying that replays revealing penalties that should have been called is a bad thing, there's a big problem in the NFL.

"Replay was designed to overturn obvious errors. It was never designed to include penalties," Fisher said, "The game is fast. The game is hard to officiate. We're making strides in that area. If I challenged a holding call and a false start in the first half, I've used all my challenges."

Couple things ...

1. Yep -- the game is fast. Replay is not.

2. The game surely is hard to officiate, that's why replay is a tool to assist officials, not "undermine" them (as Vincent also stated in the link above).

3. If you used your challenges on that stuff then that's your choice. I'm a 49ers fan, I know all about wasting timeouts and challenges, believe me! However, if you're keeping the number of challenges the same, it's not going to slow down a game and hey, smart coaches can save them for when something egregiously ridiculous happens like a horrible missed interference or a helmet-to-helmet hit that didn't actually happen.

I feel like the competition committee is making excuses for a problem that doesn't exist. The rules that people are after have nothing to do with false starts or anything of the sort. Yes, if we open it up to the potential of calling new penalties (we should), that kind of thing can happen, but that's a secondary concern to penalties that are called that shouldn't have been. We're talking huge, drastic game-breaking penalties (helmet-to-helmet is the main thing here) and it's silly that the rules are so arbitrary.