NFL Officiating: Zebras gone wild

Al Zarilla

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Seattle got jobbed. Even the former official / analyst dude they spoke to was aghast
And then the Seattle pass receiver was so beside himself that he kicked the ball and Seattle got a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty. I like the Rams (good quarterback Stafford buried so long on a bad team, and, my God, Cooper Kupp, ridiculous. Aaron Donald, etc.). So, for me, the no call was like the Patriots getting away with one. Sue me.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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The problem with the call is not just that it jobs Seattle but also that it jobs the Cardinals and potentially other NFC teams, but the Cardinals the worst.

This is the problem. Only 17 games with parity and complicated tie breaking rules.

Just fucking eye in the sky everything. This is so stupid. We have the technology here to not have this happen every year.
 

PedroKsBambino

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And then the Seattle pass receiver was so beside himself that he kicked the ball and Seattle got a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty. I like the Rams (good quarterback Stafford buried so long on a bad team, and, my God, Cooper Kupp, ridiculous. Aaron Donald, etc.). So, for me, the no call was like the Patriots getting away with one. Sue me.
A big problem for NFL and (in particular) NBA is this dynamic: there are close calls, and disputed calls. We know they will happen and that emotion around them will run high. We also know the officials want to enforce standards in a somehat consistent way, and not end up with a set of rules for 'close calls' where players can do stuff like kick the ball and 'other calls' where they cannot and will be flagged. Even acknowledging both of those, my assessment is that too often officials err on the side of the flag rather than acknowledging there needs to be some recognition of different reactions to close calls. When this happens, you end up with an 'adding insult to injury' dynamic and that just undermines the officials and the leagues. So, I would really want the league to work to get referees to be extra cautious about those add-on penalties

To be clear, this is about flagging non-physical reactions. There is no question, no matter how bad, important, or controversial the call, that if a player touches or menaces a ref they fully deserve the flag and likely an ejection.
 

Cotillion

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A big problem for NFL and (in particular) NBA is this dynamic: there are close calls, and disputed calls. We know they will happen and that emotion around them will run high. We also know the officials want to enforce standards in a somehat consistent way, and not end up with a set of rules for 'close calls' where players can do stuff like kick the ball and 'other calls' where they cannot and will be flagged. Even acknowledging both of those, my assessment is that too often officials err on the side of the flag rather than acknowledging there needs to be some recognition of different reactions to close calls. When this happens, you end up with an 'adding insult to injury' dynamic and that just undermines the officials and the leagues. So, I would really want the league to work to get referees to be extra cautious about those add-on penalties

To be clear, this is about flagging non-physical reactions. There is no question, no matter how bad, important, or controversial the call, that if a player touches or menaces a ref they fully deserve the flag and likely an ejection.
Did we ever hear about the Colts player getting fined or suspended for throwing the official during the Pats colts “fight”?
 

Harry Hooper

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Did we ever hear about the Colts player getting fined or suspended for throwing the official during the Pats colts “fight”?
The most interesting part of that issue is did the officials decide to waive what would normally be an automatic (deserved) ejection because they didn't want to eject both of the Colts top 2 WRs?
 

Bowhemian

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The most interesting part of that issue is did the officials decide to waive what would normally be an automatic (deserved) ejection because they didn't want to eject both of the Colts top 2 WRs?
I doubt that was even a little part of their decision.
In real time, it looked to me like he most likely didn't realize that it was a ref that was trying to pull him off the pile. He never turned around before pushing the person behind him, and because of that I assume that he thought it was a player.
 

soxhop411

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So how many of these awful calls are we going to get a week before NFL gets its head out of the sand and realizes they have an officiating problem?

I mean I would hope the NFL does not enjoy the officials becoming the talking point after each week...
View: https://twitter.com/SharpFootball/status/1474899209895780353




Edit: We have the damn technology we should be able to use it, especially with the NFL going all in on gambling...

Have a "eye in the sky" that can buzz the refs and tell them they screwed up...
 
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Fishercat

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So what’s your solve then?
I mean the fix to make PI Challengeable was sabotaged so there doesn’t seem to be an appetite to fix it, but soxhop mentioned eye in the sky, it should be something that can be called off the field. Full time, better trained refs perhaps. The sheer amount of betting, the NFLs lean into it, and this level of poor officiating should cause introspection and problem solving.
 

soxhop411

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I mean the fix to make PI Challengeable was sabotaged so there doesn’t seem to be an appetite to fix it, but soxhop mentioned eye in the sky, it should be something that can be called off the field. Full time, better trained refs perhaps. The sheer amount of betting, the NFLs lean into it, and this level of poor officiating should cause introspection and problem solving.
I mean the Ravens (and other teams) have proposed such a rule change in the past, only for the competition committee to turn it down...

This is from Pre season of this year
View: https://twitter.com/AlbertBreer/status/1367863956786868229?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1367863956786868229%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sportsnet.ca%2Fnfl%2Farticle%2Freports-ravens-propose-overhauled-ot-format-booth-umpire%2F





The fact that the NFL thinks something like this is not needed is insane...
 

soxhop411

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On top of the lack of replay, they need to get rid of the damn chain (and sometimes paper) that is used to measure down and distance. its as antiquated (if not more so) than umps calling balls and strikes, Both of those things can be solved by technology that is available, and the NFL is too stubborn to use it. And its going to bite them in the A$$ during the playoffs again, or in the superbowl
 

soxhop411

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Not even an hour later another officiating shitshow in the IND/ARZ game

a "DPI" called on Marco Wilson,
View: https://twitter.com/FTB_Vids_YT/status/1474931597870698497

Pro football talk about others blasted this "DPI"

View: https://twitter.com/richeisen/status/1474931263316250625


View: https://twitter.com/ProFootballTalk/status/1474932502779281409



Is the NFL naive enough to think that if they just ignore all of these calls that people will forget about them? If so they deserve all the S*** they will get for allowing this incompetence by officials to continue
 
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snowmanny

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That’s actually worse than the missed call in the Packers game. It’s one thing to miss something (eg a shirt grab) that you shouldn’t miss. It’s another level of bad to see something that never happened.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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Is the NFL naive enough to think that if they just ignore all of these calls that people will forget about them? If so they deserve all the S*** they will get for allowing this incompetence by officials to continue
This has been happening forever. Ray Hamilton roughing the passer was almost half a century ago. If the league has shown anything, it's that they can absolutely ignore shitty reffing.
 

soxhop411

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This has been happening forever. Ray Hamilton roughing the passer was almost half a century ago. If the league has shown anything, it's that they can absolutely ignore shitty reffing.
Agree, but there is one small difference, we (fans+ players+ reporters) have social media, there are 8K super duper slow mo videos, etc, its will be much harder for them to try and sweep it under the rug when someones 98 year old grandfather can tell they screwed up, by watching on TV... we have the damn technology there is no F****ing excuse for the NFL to not use it
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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Agree, but there is one small difference, we (fans+ players+ reporters) have social media, there are 8K super duper slow mo videos, etc, its will be much harder for them to try and sweep it under the rug when someones 98 year old grandfather can tell they screwed up, by watching on TV
I get it, but think about the crazy amount of bad calls in the last several years. Some in huge games. It hasn't affected the brand at all, and they've done very little to fix it.
 

soxhop411

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I get it, but think about the crazy amount of bad calls in the last several years. Some in huge games. It hasn't affected the brand at all, and they've done very little to fix it.
I know, which is why that hubris is going to bite the NFL in the ass as now that they are pretty much tied to gambling in an "official capacity." these blown calls and the amount that we have seen this year (and the egregiousness of them) will get even more scrutinized than before,
 

djbayko

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I know, which is why that hubris is going to bite the NFL in the ass as now that they are pretty much tied to gambling in an "official capacity." these blown calls and the amount that we have seen this year (and the egregiousness of them) will get even more scrutinized than before,
Why will it? What does legalized gambling have to do with it? Ref errors are part of the game and a risk you accept when you place a bet, among 1,000 other risks. We've had social media for a while now and there have been bad calls in nearly every game, every season.
 

kenneycb

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I don't think Kenny really deserved an answer to that "gotcha" post. But it was a very good answer.
It wasn’t a gotcha post. It was a response to someone saying “things have to change” then offering nothing of what needed to change of a tweet of a missed call until prodded. The edit was 25 minutes after my post.

Sky judge seems good in theory like replay. I’m skeptical of how it would be enacted. Doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try it but I don’t expect it to work well.

And it’s Kenney.
 

kenneycb

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Why will it? What does legalized gambling have to do with it? Ref errors are part of the game and a risk you accept when you place a bet, among 1,000 other risks. We've had social media for a while now and there have been bad calls in nearly every game, every season.
Not to mention illegal gambling has been around for a while and the NFL has been unofficially in bed with gambling for a while (see: injury reports). Nothing has changed.
 

BigSoxFan

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It wasn’t a gotcha post. It was a response to someone saying “things have to change” then offering nothing of what needed to change of a tweet of a missed call until prodded. The edit was 25 minutes after my post.

Sky judge seems good in theory like replay. I’m skeptical of how it would be enacted. Doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try it but I don’t expect it to work well.

And it’s Kenney.
Why don’t you expect it to work well and why are you skeptical of the implementation? You might want to elaborate more here. If you’re going to critique posters for not explaining their positions, you might want to do the same.

Reading your post, I have no idea what your issues are with the “eye in the sky” idea.
 

kenneycb

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Sure. For one the NFL always messes it up. So I’m skeptical of the competition committee by definition.

For two, how does the sky judge actually work? Do they watch the play live? Do they just watch from up high? Do they get replay? How much time do they get to look? What is “clear and obvious”? What isn’t “clear and obvious”? What if a team is in hurry up - does it turn into a situation where a team can do hurry up and not get a sky judge call / review? The PI review was a good rule in theory but the in reality it turned out to be useless outside of the most obvious cases like the play that led to the rule being implemented. It’s funny that slo-mo and Twitter were brought up earlier as this will just shift the definition of “obvious” to people who slow plays down even more to demonstrate real or perceived slights on Twitter.

Why do you think it will be successful?
 
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BigSoxFan

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Sure. For one the NFL always messes it up. So I’m skeptical of the competition committee by definition.

For two, how does the sky judge actually work? Do they watch the play live? Do they just watch from up high? Do they get replay? How much time do they get to look? What is “clear and obvious”? What isn’t “clear and obvious”? What if a team is in hurry up - does it turn into a situation where a team can do hurry up and not get a sky judge call / review? The PI review was a good rule in theory but the in reality it turned out to be useless outside of the most obvious cases like the play that led to the rule being implemented. It’s funny that slo-mo and Twitter were brought up earlier as this will just shift the definition of “obvious” to people who slow plays down even more to demonstrate real or perceived slights on Twitter.

Why do you think it will be successful?
Never said I thought it would be successful. I think general skepticism about the NFL officiating and/or processes is warranted. I just wanted to better understand your position.

I think the “eye in the sky” concept would need a lot of trial and error. For instance, if all scores under 2 minutes are reviewable, I don’t know why all plays under 2 minutes couldn’t be. You can’t fix every blown call so I would limit it, whether that be the last 2 minutes of each half or something like that.

While everyone wants correct calls during the entire game, I think the biggest source of agitation is when the bad calls come late in the game and impact the outcomes of close games. That’s ultimately what you’re trying to prevent. You don’t want the “eye in the sky” to stop play more than a few times / game, if that.
 

Humphrey

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I think the hard part when you allow the eye in the sky to overturn something that's conclusive but completely out of the blue. For example, a db holding a guy on the left side of the field when the qb rolls to the right and throws it to the right. The holding might be egregious and picked up on the replay, but what did it have to do with the play? Yes, sometimes, it changes the play, but sometimes it doesn't. Opens up a can of worms.
 

BaseballJones

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I think the hard part when you allow the eye in the sky to overturn something that's conclusive but completely out of the blue. For example, a db holding a guy on the left side of the field when the qb rolls to the right and throws it to the right. The holding might be egregious and picked up on the replay, but what did it have to do with the play? Yes, sometimes, it changes the play, but sometimes it doesn't. Opens up a can of worms.
They could take that into account when using the eye in the sky.
 
Sounds like what you guys want is close to the college football replay system, with added ability to review penalties on top of targeting (which is already reviewable in college). Which is great...but I hope you all like four-hour games. Which the NFL definitely doesn't like, which I think in large part is why we are where we are.
 

snowmanny

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They could take that into account when using the eye in the sky.
So some sort of protocol that they only chime in on plays that are especially egregious or especially big plays or especially material to the outcome of the play or something? I get the idea but it seems tricky to define.
 

luckiestman

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PI replay in practice was terrible. I love how eye in the sky is used now, not sure if I would love it for PI. Ostensibly it should be good but we already saw how the PI experiment played out.
 

JMDurron

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Sounds like what you guys want is close to the college football replay system, with added ability to review penalties on top of targeting (which is already reviewable in college). Which is great...but I hope you all like four-hour games. Which the NFL definitely doesn't like, which I think in large part is why we are where we are.
What you describe is exactly what I want. Of course, what I want is also informed by the fact that I care about 1 NFL team only, and care nothing at all about length of games in that context. So, it's fair that there needs to be some kind of adjustment to permit the "eye in the sky" potential delay factor to be balanced out by something.

Toward that end, in exchange for adding a permanent crew member who can buzz his colleagues for any call adjustment before the ball is snapped, what about these two wrinkles to mitigate the timing impact:

1) With a permanent crew member in the booth, eliminate the "head ref reviews video footage" element entirely. For both challenges and the last two minutes of each halves. The head ref can talk to the booth crew member only, without the delay of the video review theater. Once the permanent crew member got trained up and sufficiently integrated with his colleagues, I think this could work
2) More controversially - eliminate coaches' challenges entirely. If there's a small chance of a delay/overturn on every play, and the NFL has legitimate concerns about the run time of games, then why not remove the sporadic chance of a lengthy delay/overturn at the behest of the coaches? It's not the like the coaches/players won't still put on a lovely display of politely noting a potential error by the refs between plays for anything controversial, thereby buying time for the booth crew member to take a look before the next snap.

If we wanted to go way out there, perhaps we could balance out the loss of coaches' challenges by adding 5 seconds to the play clock, effectively buying the booth official a bit of time to note anything major before the ball would have to be snapped. This would obviously only be an advantage for the offense in a controversial situation, and seems counterproductive from a "time of game" standpoint. Unless, that is, the NFL was able to insert more in-game, 30-second commercials in exchange for fewer/shorter out-of-game commercial breaks. I wonder if they have data indicating that the in-game commercials have more eyeballs on them than the traditional variety?

Just throwing some ideas out there.
 

CFB_Rules

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What you describe is exactly what I want. Of course, what I want is also informed by the fact that I care about 1 NFL team only, and care nothing at all about length of games in that context. So, it's fair that there needs to be some kind of adjustment to permit the "eye in the sky" potential delay factor to be balanced out by something.

Toward that end, in exchange for adding a permanent crew member who can buzz his colleagues for any call adjustment before the ball is snapped, what about these two wrinkles to mitigate the timing impact:

1) With a permanent crew member in the booth, eliminate the "head ref reviews video footage" element entirely. For both challenges and the last two minutes of each halves. The head ref can talk to the booth crew member only, without the delay of the video review theater. Once the permanent crew member got trained up and sufficiently integrated with his colleagues, I think this could work
2) More controversially - eliminate coaches' challenges entirely. If there's a small chance of a delay/overturn on every play, and the NFL has legitimate concerns about the run time of games, then why not remove the sporadic chance of a lengthy delay/overturn at the behest of the coaches? It's not the like the coaches/players won't still put on a lovely display of politely noting a potential error by the refs between plays for anything controversial, thereby buying time for the booth crew member to take a look before the next snap.

If we wanted to go way out there, perhaps we could balance out the loss of coaches' challenges by adding 5 seconds to the play clock, effectively buying the booth official a bit of time to note anything major before the ball would have to be snapped. This would obviously only be an advantage for the offense in a controversial situation, and seems counterproductive from a "time of game" standpoint. Unless, that is, the NFL was able to insert more in-game, 30-second commercials in exchange for fewer/shorter out-of-game commercial breaks. I wonder if they have data indicating that the in-game commercials have more eyeballs on them than the traditional variety?

Just throwing some ideas out there.
1) This is already how it is done. The booth official, who travels with the crew, makes the final replay determination. Each crew has a replay official and replay assistant that travel with them, you can see who they are here: http://www.footballzebras.com/2021/06/officiating-crews-for-the-2021-season/

Also the NFL is already doing the sky judge thing unofficially, it's been pretty clear watching games that NY is calling penalties. I know McAulay and some of the other ex-NFL guys have been all over them for the lack of accountability that comes with some nameless NFL person in NY making penalty decisions.
 

Seels

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Wow. Didn't think I could be more upset with the calls but here I am.

Yea how does it matter if the contact is incidental? I disagree that it was incidental, but even if it was, that's still a penalty, so
 

Cellar-Door

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The correct answer is to:
1. Give coaches 3 challeneges and allow challenging penalties.
2. Challenges are all handled by an outside official
3. Real ref accountability including removing the worst performers at year end.

Just suck it up and if the refs strike hold the line. The replacement refs were not much if any worse than the NFL refs usually are, people just paid more attention to how bad they were.
 

glennhoffmania

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The correct answer is to:
1. Give coaches 3 challeneges and allow challenging penalties.
2. Challenges are all handled by an outside official
3. Real ref accountability including removing the worst performers at year end.

Just suck it up and if the refs strike hold the line. The replacement refs were not much if any worse than the NFL refs usually are, people just paid more attention to how bad they were.
I like the idea of having an 8th ref responsible for challenging all calls. The coaches shouldn't be involved, and it shouldn't be held against a team if the refs blow more than 3 calls. Let the 8th ref buzz down to the field when something needs to be reviewed. The fact that only scoring plays and turnovers get reviewed automatically is dumb.
 

JokersWildJIMED

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The college game has it right, although it does prolong the game a bit. The replacement refs were much, much worse...they lost control of the games...re-watch the Baltimore / NE game, which essentially ended the stalemate. It is difficult to keep control of the mayhem on an NFL field and people vastly underestimate the job the refs do an a weekly basis.
 

soxhop411

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The college game has it right, although it does prolong the game a bit. The replacement refs were much, much worse...they lost control of the games...re-watch the Baltimore / NE game, which essentially ended the stalemate. It is difficult to keep control of the mayhem on an NFL field and people vastly underestimate the job the refs do an a weekly basis.
I think fans would take that trade off. I would rather they get the calls right even if it prolongs the game then have the officials Botch a critical call that could decide a season or playoff game.
 

snowmanny

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Super weird. Never knew the personal foul penalty required a second act. Or that pulling a guy down by his jersey is incidental.
And there were two acts. The shove, then the pull, which combined is fairly dangerous.
 

BaseballJones

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After watching a Pats' defender get flagged for hitting Josh Allen out of bounds in their first matchup - which (a) was barely a touch, and (b) he wasn't technically out of bounds yet as he was in the air moving forward and hadn't stepped OOB yet - seeing a Bills player NOT get a personal foul penalty for ACTUALLY hitting Mac and grabbing him and pulling him to the ground after he was WELL out of bounds....

...was infuriating.

Different crew, different game, but it's that difference in officiating that makes me crazy.
 

lexrageorge

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After watching a Pats' defender get flagged for hitting Josh Allen out of bounds in their first matchup - which (a) was barely a touch, and (b) he wasn't technically out of bounds yet as he was in the air moving forward and hadn't stepped OOB yet - seeing a Bills player NOT get a personal foul penalty for ACTUALLY hitting Mac and grabbing him and pulling him to the ground after he was WELL out of bounds....

...was infuriating.

Different crew, different game, but it's that difference in officiating that makes me crazy.
Both calls were egregiously incorrect. Not missed, but incorrect, no matter what the league apologists claim.

In the first case, Josh Allen was still carrying a live ball.

In the second case, the defender committed an act by grabbing the jersey well after Mac went out of bounds.

The explanation given by the officiating crew is simply wrong.
 

soxhop411

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Both calls were egregiously incorrect. Not missed, but incorrect, no matter what the league apologists claim.

In the first case, Josh Allen was still carrying a live ball.

In the second case, the defender committed an act by grabbing the jersey well after Mac went out of bounds.

The explanation given by the officiating crew is simply wrong.
Yup. And the problem is coaches (not just BB) can’t call out officials in their postgame press conferences because even if they know they are right and that they got screwed by the officials, they will get fined for doing so.
It’s asinine how protected they (officials) are that coaches can’t call out ball officiating when they see it
 

scottyno

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Did the pool reporters follow up by asking 1. How can grabbing a guy be considered incidental contact, that's literally the opposite of incidental 2. After having now seen the replay how dumb do you feel

There also were 2 actions, Jones got shoved first, multiple steps out of bounds, and then the defender tried to grab him to hold him up, and in doing so could have seriously injured him with that awkward landing slinging him down.
 

mauf

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I think we can agree there are a lot more non-calls than phantom calls. So implicitly, y’all are arguing that the problem with the NFL is that there aren’t enough penalty flags. If you feel that way, then the ideas you’re throwing out there makes sense.

On the other hand, if you believe (as I do) there are about the right number of flags, or maybe even a few too many, then a modest change like an informal “sky judge” who fixes the most blatant mistakes makes a lot of sense. Beyond that, there’s not much to do except try to improve human officiating over time.
 

Cellar-Door

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I think we can agree there are a lot more non-calls than phantom calls. So implicitly, y’all are arguing that the problem with the NFL is that there aren’t enough penalty flags. If you feel that way, then the ideas you’re throwing out there makes sense.

On the other hand, if you believe (as I do) there are about the right number of flags, or maybe even a few too many, then a modest change like an informal “sky judge” who fixes the most blatant mistakes makes a lot of sense. Beyond that, there’s not much to do except try to improve human officiating over time.
I think the issue is less the number of calls made/not made that are not totally correct, than the ability of missed/made calls to significantly impact a game without recourse. Sky Judge is fine, but adding penalties to challenge (and last 2 minute/scoring/turnover auto-reviews) makes as much sense giving recourse on egregious, game changing mistakes without parsing every hold/non-hold. The second part of that though is a neutral reviewer, because when they tried it on PI, the refs essentially refused to make any overturns because it was criticizing their colleagues.
So for example, yesterday, the booth in auto-reviewing the game sealing INT in GB/CLE would note an obvious PI that impacted the play and call it, negating the pick which ended the game and preventing a situation where an egregiously blown call cost a team a chance to win a game on the field.
 

mauf

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I think the issue is less the number of calls made/not made that are not totally correct, than the ability of missed/made calls to significantly impact a game without recourse. Sky Judge is fine, but adding penalties to challenge (and last 2 minute/scoring/turnover auto-reviews) makes as much sense giving recourse on egregious, game changing mistakes without parsing every hold/non-hold. The second part of that though is a neutral reviewer, because when they tried it on PI, the refs essentially refused to make any overturns because it was criticizing their colleagues.
So for example, yesterday, the booth in auto-reviewing the game sealing INT in GB/CLE would note an obvious PI that impacted the play and call it, negating the pick which ended the game and preventing a situation where an egregiously blown call cost a team a chance to win a game on the field.
See, I don’t think you’ll ever get a replay system that overrules the field crew and calls DPI in that situation, unless you’re going to have 4-hour games and a lot more arbitrariness than we have now. It’s football — there’s room for improvement, but the officials are never going to see every grab and tug, even in critical situations. A system that tried to say that some of those grabs and tugs are important are enough to stop the game for a minute or two to fix while others aren’t would be a shitshow.

I don’t have much sympathy for the Browns — there are a million reasons they found themselves in a position where their season depended on getting a call which they deserved, but which you absolutely can’t count on getting. Thirty years ago, we aren’t even having this discussion, because without the benefit of HD super slo-mo replay, everyone who isn’t a die-hard Browns fans shrugs off the non-call as incidental contact and moves on.