It seems we can't get away from this issue. It just keeps coming back like Jason or Michael Myers, just maybe not as scary. It's been a hot issue for a while now, but it just doesn't seem like it's going to get any better.
Pass interference, I feel, should be a relatively easy call. I can understand there sometimes are other circumstances, and it is a fast-paced game at times, but there should really be no excuse for a blatant missed call in the NFC Championship between the Saints and the Rams two years ago. Or even other calls during the regular season over the last several years, or in big games in recent seasons. But there are a certain number of officials on the field looking at certain things. One guy has one job, and he's standing right there when the play happens and the flag is not thrown.
Here's what Jordan Dajani, of CBSSports, writes:
"The New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams were tied at 20 apiece with under two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game. Drew Brees dropped back and attempted to throw a pass to Tommylee Lewis, who was knocked down by cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman before the ball reached him. It was a clear and obvious penalty, but the officials somehow missed it."
Mainly because of that no-call penalty, the NFL implemented a rule for this past year, giving coaches the ability to challenge a PI call. They were testing it out to see if they would continue with it or change it in some fashion.
Well they reviewed the rule and decided not to continue with it. So now we're back to the whole subjectivity thing. And that's what it is. I said this last season that the rule is so subjective.
According to the NFL Rulebook, in Rule 8, Section 5, Article 1, it states: "It is pass interference by either team when any act by a player more than one yard beyond the line of scrimmage significantly hinders an eligible player’s opportunity to catch the ball. Pass interference can only occur when a forward pass is thrown from behind the line of scrimmage, regardless of whether the pass is legal or illegal, or whether it crosses the line."
I want to highlight the words "significantly hinders." It goes on to say in Article 2 that the interference is called when a player not playing the ball prohibits another player from making the catch. Grabbing the arm, hooking or turning the player in such a way that it prohibits the other player from completing the pass is also considered PI. Extending the arm to create separation is PI.
Okay, so we all pretty much know that.
But as I said, that's where the subjectivity comes into play.
One official will say one player pushed off. Another will say it didn't create that much separation. Did he grab him enough? Was this enough to warrant a penalty? And on and on. Everyone will have their viewpoints.
In the article by Dajani, he sources Rich McKay, chairman of the competition committee (they actually have to have a competition committee?), as he explained why they terminated the rule change and suggests subjectivity had something to do with the decision.
"Nobody is putting forward the OPI/DPI review again so that dies a natural death. In my opinion, we were trying to apply something that we've always been fearful of. We didn't know what the total outcome would be, but we were always fearful of putting a totally subjective play into replay."
I think the problem lies in the wording of the rulebook where it says "significantly hinders." Perhaps they should take "significantly" out. That might clear some things up. Or maybe they can just tell the officials to not be so subjective. If someone pushes off, creates separation, no matter how big or small, then throw the yellow hanky. If a defender turns a receiver, however slightly, then it's a penalty. Try keeping it consistent.
And of course there are instances where it is clearly obvious there was contact or a defender didn't play the ball, and so forth, where the flag should be thrown. The problem exists because there is too much subjectivity in the call now. In one game, a slight push off would be called. In another game, that same play would not be called by a different official.
So they need to make it more consistent across the board. Because if one feels it was warranted, then it should be the same for everyone everywhere. That's my opinion. Enough with the subjectivity.
I suppose like anything, we'll see how this all plays out when the regular season starts in September. If it starts in September. And the NFL is moving forward with the season in hopes of being able to start on time. However, with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation, there are contingency plans in place. The NFL released its full schedule for all 256 games on Thursday, May 7. It will be a matchup to see on opening night Thursday, Sept. 10, as the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs will battle in a re-match of the AFC Championship game from this past January. The game is slated to begin at 8:20 p.m. Eastern time on NBC. It should be another exciting matchup and it should be an exciting year.