NFL instant replay is changing a little, and that’s good on a couple of fronts, a little dangerous on another. The NFL in 2011 will review all scoring plays.
Don’t panic. That doesn’t mean a two- or three-minute delay after every Sunday touchdown. Most NFL scoring plays are clearer than post-Windex glass. There is nothing to check.
But on the plays that possibly could have a question, it’s automatic. There will be review. No more waiting on a red flag.
“Coaches are not allowed to challenge a scoring play,” said NFL referee Walt Anderson, who also is the Big 12 supervisor of officials. “In fact, it’s a 15-yard penalty for throwing a red flag on a scoring play.”
The league has moved a little toward the college version of replay. In college, every play is reviewable, though coaches can request a review. Sometimes, it seems like every play is reviewed.
The NFL still has the replay challenges. Two per game, and if both are successful, a team is granted a third.
I prefer the challenge concept. I would let coaches challenge any play they want, and as long as they’re right, no cost. But every unsuccessful challenge would cost a team a timeout. No timeouts left, no more challenges. That would prohibit a cavalcade of challenges but would give coaches the opportunity to correct more wrongs. And isn’t that the goal?
The problem with the new NFL rule is it’s another step toward the college system, which can be out of control. Some games are solid; two or three reviews all day. But some games are out of control, 10-12 reviews. That’s ridiculous. Much better to put this on the coaches.
The good side of all this is a step toward consensus on the rules. Too many variations in college and NFL rules, and while we’ll never get to having completely identical rules, anything that brings the games closer together is good.
“The NFL has swallowed its pride and adopted some really good college rules,” Anderson said. “The reality is, there will always be some differences.”
An example. The NFL illegal contact rule, in which pass defenders can’t bump potential receivers once they are more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
That’s a non-issue in college, and no one in college football should want the rule, because it brings a flood of penalty flags. But the NFL deems it necessary to keep the pro passing game flowing.
Anderson said NFL defenders will ask in practice, “How am I supposed to know if it’s five yards or not?” The answer is, “you’re paid to know.”
College defenders are not paid to know.