Monday, January 5, 2015
This IS What You Wanted
Boy, there sure are a lot of complaints about NFL referees today. The consensus is that the Detroit Lions--a team no one outside of a three mile radius around Detroit itself actually likes anyway--got hosed on a pass interference call that was reversed on the field saving the bacon of the Dallas Cowboys. Twitter and Facebook are filled with questions about how the refs could be so blind, or so inconsistent or downright unknowledgeable about the rules of the game. Well the answer is simple: the NFL is giving the fans what they want, a game that is nearly impossible to officiate properly.
Rules changes meant to increase the amount of offense to appease the short attention spans of younger fans and to boost the interest of fantasy nerds who can't live without scoring 200-points every week--and all of the new rules on hitting players in the name of "safety" have given the guys in stripes so many things to be looking for on the field that the really important infractions can go un-noticed.
There are different rules for contact downfield for before the pass, for when the ball is in the air, for when the quarterback is in the pocket, for when the QB has scrambled outside of the "tackle box" and for when he is past the line of scrimmage. And then there are different rules for when a defender is looking at the ball, when he is attempting to make a play on the ball or when he has his back turned to the ball. And then defenders can't hit receivers in certain positions because they are "defenseless" and hitting too high is a penalty anytime--unless you don't leave your feet or lead with your helmet or the guy with the ball lowers his head too--in which case leading with the helmet is legal. And offenses now take advantage of these rules by intentionally underthrowing passes or going deep for the sole purpose of drawing contact and pass interference penalties.
Officials also have to determine if possession is maintained to the ground after a player has made a "football move" and was "being taken to the ground by a defender". Or if the ball hit the ground but was still in possession of the receiver and did not substantially move due to the contact with the ground. Or if both feet were inbounds before the receiver stepped out and maintained possession all the way to the ground even though they were already out of bounds. And if the ball crossed the plane of the goal line while the receiver's feet were inbounds.
All of this is actually moot because teams can always challenge and force a replay review. Or if it's a score or a turnover the booth review is automatic--unless the call is no touchdown or no turnover--in which case we are back to a challenge situation again--unless the team offended doesn't have any timeouts left in which case they cannot challenge or if they used up their two challenges for the game and don't have any of those left--or unless it's under two minutes left in the game in which case it's back to a booth review again and the officials are buzzed before the next play starts in which case all review is off.
So enjoy your over-regulated, live action version of Madden NFL '15 with its inconsistent standards and on-field calls. This IS what you wanted.