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One-on-One: What’s your view on pass interference review in the NFL?

It’s good

By Josh Schwam

When are you most mad about something? The day of? A month after the incident? A year? New Orleans Saints fans persistrent, ongoing anger resulted in a league-wide rule change.

In the 2018 NFC Championship game, it is widely accepted that the Saints were robbed of a Super Bowl berth due to a non-call on what should have been pass interference. The officiating was so horrible and so abusive to the good NFL officials, that this past offseason the league office passed an amendment to allow instant replay for pass interference calls and no-calls.

This seemingly solved the problem. Coaches are given one challenge per half to use on pass interference. But there’s one problem.

Now that coaches have the ability to challenge, and officials know their calls have the chance of being overturned, the quality of officiating has decreased.

Officials are scared. No referee wants to be “the official” that made a bad call and have a bounty in a team’s city. A bounty in New Orleans is especially bad since they have already gone through “Bountygate”, injuring opposing players.

This is a learning process. Every football fan was mad at officiating as a whole when the Saints were robbed of a Super Bowl berth. The change to fix such a thing from happening again was created.

Now, coaches and officials are going through a learning process on the new way pass interference is judged in the NFL. Of course there have been mistakes by the refs and that will always be the case. And of course there have been mistakes made by coaches on when to challenge, and what kind of pass interference can and cannot be challenged.

I agree with Jacob that this is an issue, but it will fix itself. The review process is a learning experience for everyone right now. Of course we’re mad that it is not working. Right now, we are not getting what we wanted, which is calls on the football field to be correct as often as possible.

Reviewing pass interference fixes that problem but not immediately. It’s only just been introduced to the league.


It’s bad

By Jacob Stienberg

The New Orleans Saints were cheated out of a first down and a trip to the Super Bowl in their 26-23 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in last year’s NFC Championship Game.

After outrage and lawsuits from fans across the country, the NFL created the potential for another controversy by establishing a rule that makes pass interference reviewable. What NFL owners have not learned, or refuse to acknowledge, is that replay rules tend to create more problems than solutions. Pass interference calls tend to change the course of a game and swing momentum to the opposing team.

During the week four matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers, viewers were treated to two such pass interference challenges (and a few missed calls). Neither of them was overturned. When Packers head coach Matt LaFleur was asked about it, he responded “I really don’t know what pass interference is anymore. I’ll just leave it at that.“

LaFleur brings up a really good point that has been seldom discussed by the national media. Similar to the silly catch or no catch rule, this rule can bring similar effects to the pass interference rule. Despite being less prevalent over the course of the last year and a half, many football fans still can’t explain what a catch is. The pass interference rule is much more complex than the former catch rule.

Josh argues the rule will be a good addition to the challenge arsenal when the learning curve goes away, but we are a quarter of the way through the season and have yet to get a clear idea of what will cause plays to be overturned. The last thing football fans need is more debate on an already flawed rule and hostility towards referees who are not even making the call on their own.

This rule is a solution to avoid an NFC Championship-type debacle from happening again. It is also akin to the NFL opening Pandora’s box. Football fans, coaches and players don’t know what to expect from this new rule. Despite being on a one-year trial, the rule has already caused more confusion than clarity.

I believe that making pass interference reviewable is bad for football for all of the above reasons.

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