In an interview with Pittsburgh media on Wednesday, Steelers team president Art Rooney II said he believes the pass interference replay rule which was implemented for the 2019 season will be a highly debated topic this off-season.
Art Rooney II expects the instant replay review that pertains to pass interference to be hotly debated in the offseason. "We weren't that excited about it from the beginning," said Rooney, a clear opponent of the rule.— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) January 15, 2020
The NFL implemented a new rule for the 2019 season in which pass interference penalties, both called and not called on the field, could be challenged by coaches and reviewed under normal rules of the replay system. The rule was basically a knee-jerk reaction from the NFC championship game in which the Los Angeles Rams were not called for an obvious pass interference which potentially affected the outcome at the end of the game. While the New Orleans Saints were the victims of the non-call, they were also the beneficiaries in Week 16 against the Pittsburgh Steelers in which a pass interference call was made which never should have drawn a flag. In all, every NFL team has been on both sides of the issue in which they benefited or were a victim of an improper pass interference call.
When it comes to moving forward with the replay system being used for pass interference, the biggest question is if the rule helped fix problems or if it created even more. With so many who watch and critique the NFL unsure of what constitutes the standard for a reversal of the call on the field, the biggest problem with the rule may be its implementation.
After Week 2 of the 2019 season, Hall of Fame coach and NFL analyst Tony Dungy was unsure as to what the standard was for the rule.
Now in the Seattle game a non call Defensive Pass Interference does get overturned against Pittsburgh. I have no idea what is “clear and obvious” pass interference and what isn’t.— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) September 15, 2019
As many of us remember, the play Dungy was referring to was when pass interference was not called against Terrell Edmunds on Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett on a 2nd & 20 play in Week 2 against Seattle but was overturned when head coach Pete Carroll challenged the play. Those watching the game, including the TV commentators, were surprised Carroll was wasting a challenge on the play only to see something, which appeared to be the right call in the first place, overturned. Many believe it was this play which changed the NFL’s mentality of the rule moving forward through a large portion of the season as it was very rare any call was overturned.
The other issue as it comes to the rule for reviewing pass interference penalties is how narrow the rule is with it being the only penalty which can be reviewed. On the play in question against Seattle, they were two obvious penalties, one against each team, which occurred before the ball made it to the receiver. An obvious hold on Seattle and a late hit by the Steelers were both not called and were more egregious than the pass interference. But yet those calls went unchecked.
Another issue with the pass interference penalties is the timing of the pass and whether or not to play can be overturned. If a receiver is grabbed by the defender when the ball has not yet been thrown, the penalty would be defensive holding and not pass interference. Therefore, one play in which the defender grabs the receiver cannot be overturned because the ball was not yet in the air while the other one in which the pass occurs a second later is subject for review.
There will be a lot to discuss about the current rule for reviewing pass interference this off-season, and it’s hard to say in which direction the NFL will go. I, for one, think the rule either needs a major change or to go away all together. But what do you think? Please vote in the poll and leave your thoughts in the comments below!
How should the NFL handle the pass interference replay rule in the off-season?
This poll is closed
Leave it. The rule is perfect.
Keep it for another year, but get more consistent and better with the implementation.
Get rid of it altogether. It was a disaster and penalties should not be reviewable.
Expand it. Include other penalties and work on getting as much right in the game as possible.