Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Instant Replay in the NFL

I am in favor of instant replay in the NFL.  

I cannot say the same in other sports, especially baseball, but in football, replay can be put to good use. However, there has to be major changes in the way replay is implemented in the NFL.  

I am calling for the abolition of the coaches' challenge system in the NFL.  In theory the notion of 'challenging' the call on the field works, just as in theory, communism works.  The reality, on the other hand, demonstrates serious deficiencies that ultimately mar the overall quality of the product on the field.  The NFL, after all, keeps telling us that they want to 'get the call right', but there have been several instances when a challenge could not be made late in the game (for various reasons), and a fairly egregious call was left in place.  Just a couple from this past slate of games...

Example #1 - late in the 4th quarter, Vikings quarterback Joe Webb takes ball and runs with it on third down and six.  He is tackled and the officials give him a spot at the 29 1/2 yard line.  His knee was clearly down at the 28, which would leave him at least a yard short of the first down.  The first down is awarded and the Eagles couldn't challenge, because they had used their timeouts earlier in an effort to stop the clock.  No timeouts = no challenges.  

Example #2 - just to show that I am not completely a homer and whining about the Eagles' game, the Giants got screwed on a play when Eli Manning threw a pass that was ruled an interception, but it was clear that the Packer defender did not have both feet in bounds.  The Giants had already used both of their challenges and thus Tom Coughlin could not throw the red flag.

Dustin texted me last night to say that 'Andy screwed himself by wasting the timeouts'.  My response was to the effect of a team cannot save timeouts based on some mythical possibility of a challenge.  Therein lies the rub of the whole challenge system.  If indeed the goal is to get the call right, then it shouldn't be left to chance that there is no possibility of a reversal.  

The solution is then to adhere to a college-style of replay system in which every play is reviewed and whenever there is a screwup, the referee is buzzed and is told what the correct call should have been.  It was mentioned in last night's live blog that the NHL has goals reviewed by an impartial booth in Toronto that gives no indication to the game situation or momentum.  Whether that would work in the NFL remains to be seen; at the very least, to have someone up in the booth at every game with the sole job of reviewing plays would be an improvement over the patchwork system of a referee going under the hood.

I seriously doubt this will happen.  The NFL has bigger fish to fry right now - such as a labor deal, whether or not to suspend (or merely fine) Brett Favre for sending pictures of his genitals to a woman, and how much to fine players for hitting each other with their helmets.  I can dream, though.


Doyler said...

Just get the call right.

Stop wrangling over "challenges" and added reasons why or why not a coach screwed up.

Just get the call right.

I know the NFL wants to keep the game times at a tidy 3:15, but get the call right. (And the game time could greatly reduce if you stopped going to commercials at every play stoppage)


And the "Stands, Overturned, Confirmed" malarkey isn't helping matters. There should be no consideration towards the call in the field. Nobody should care if the officials get overruled more often anyway.

There was an NFL Films segment showing coaches and challenges. I can't remember if it was Brian Billick or Jon Gruden, but he said something like, "We spend all this time and effort and money, and they still don't get it right."

Pretty much.

Joshua Lattanzi said...

The current replay system and fantasy will be the NFL's undoing.

There has been more arrogance on the NFL's part since Roger became the commish than I can ever remember. I guess we have to just take a wait and see attitude.