Rule changes are fine, but the referees are not helping
Everyone has felt victimized by a call or no-call by a referee. The problem is it is happening on a weekly basis in the NFL.
In last year’s NFC Championship game in New Orleans, Drew Brees was in the red zone, leading the Saints offense. A score would put the Saints in prime position to go to the Super Bowl.
After two ineffective plays, the Saints were forced to pass on third and ten. We all know what happened next. As Drew Brees dropped back in the pocket, Ram’s cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman caught an early read on the ball, as Tommylee Lewis was going to be the clear target by Brees.
Robey-Coleman delivered an early hit on Lewis that shook Saints fans and NFL fans. It was clearly defensive pass-interference, but the flag was not thrown. Lewis hadn’t even felt the leather of the ball before Robey-Coleman’s shoulder was in his chin. The Saints would eventually kick a field goal, giving them a three-point lead with a minute in change left in the game. The Rams then marched down the field and tied it, and eventually won the game in overtime.
After the season, the NFL would decide to make pass interference calls challengeable by coaches. But is this really improving the game? With new rules being implemented every year, the NFL is trying to promote entertaining football without it being so dangerous.
In 2018, the NFL introduced the roughing the passer rule, which means that ‘when tackling a passer in a defenseless posture, a defensive player must not unnecessarily or violently throw him down or land on top of him with all or most of the defender’s weight.’
The rule played a crucial part of the AFC championship game when Tom Brady, took a weak shot on the shoulder pads, by Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones. This kept the drive alive for the Pats, and Sony Michel would eventually run one in, and the Patriots would later win the game.
The consistency of calls is what has fans and players in an uproar. The ‘fine-line’ between a flag and no call is tricky, but there have been too many botched calls.
Another example happened in the week two game between the Vikings and Packers. Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs scored a touchdown, and like all the scoring plays went under review.
The replay did not appear to show anything wrong. Yet the refs said that running back Dalvin Cook was ‘illegally blocking downfield.’ This was a ticky-tacky call that changed the game and confused the players. After the game, Cook said he was just trying to run his route.
It is calls such as this that the NFL needs to get fixed. The pass-interference rule change was an overreaction by the league, and it is affecting the outcomes of games.
Regardless, if the NFL fixes its rules, referees should still be getting these calls right. The refs are just trying to do their job, but the NFL keeps making it more and more difficult.