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Pass interference, and how painful it should be

Posted by Darren Urban on March 23, 2018 – 10:17 am

Next week at the annual spring league meetings, owners have the chance to tweak various rules concerning the game — including yet again another adjustment to what constitutes a catch, but more on that next week — and that includes pass interference. Defensive pass interference has long had controversy with it, especially because it is often a judgment call in the first place and because it can be so harsh. DPI, of course, is a spot foul, so a flag thrown 45 yards downfield becomes a 45-yard penalty even if the interference was ticky-tack or unintentional. It can swing a game.

The proposal out there is for DPI to be a 15-yard penalty only, as it is in the college game. The caveat is that officials would have the right to make it a spot foul for an “egregious” foul, or one considered intentional. That would truly be the ultimate judgment call.

The NFL’s executive VP of football operations just happens to be a former longtime defensive back, and Troy Vincent on a conference call Friday morning didn’t sound enthusiastic himself about a change. Vincent said NFL defensive backs are “too skilled, too smart” to give them such a loophole.

“You don’t want the defensive back being able to strategically grab a guy,” Vincent said.

Still, the possibility of a change wouldn’t have gotten this far without some support. In his heyday a couple of years ago, one of the strengths of former Cardinals receiver John Brown was his ability to draw pass interference calls deep downfield even if he couldn’t make the catch. Those were always important yards that wouldn’t really be seen in the statistics. In an NFL where the rules have long tilted toward offense and the passing game in particular, this might be a shift to make it a little more even.

Unless (until?) defensive backs do figure out a way to use it to their advantage.


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6 Responses to “Pass interference, and how painful it should be”

  1. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Mar 23, 2018 | Reply

    I’m all for the rule as described above. I’d also like to see helmet-to-helmet shots reviewed for targeting and immediate ejection as the NCAA now does. I believe that rule will be debated with the PI rule.

  2. By Justin on Mar 23, 2018 | Reply

    DPI is too powerful as it stands now, it can change a game, most recently the Pats were the beneficiaries of it swinging the game for them in the playoffs. Are the changes being proposed the right strategy? It’s tough to say, I do agree that the proposed rules create a loophole, but ultimately the NFL needs automatic review on pass interference. It’s a huge call, and the refs shouldn’t have to make a judgement decision on such a game changing moment.

  3. By Richard S on Mar 23, 2018 | Reply

    That could make the Hail Mary pass irrelevant.

  4. By ken moroney on Mar 23, 2018 | Reply

    Unless there is a miracle, we won’t have to worry about DPI because we won’t have any corners fast enough to get there before the receiver is headed downfield.

  5. By John S. on Mar 24, 2018 | Reply

    I’ve felt for quite a number of years now there should be two types of pass interference calls/penalties myself. Along the lines of the more flagrant being the spot of the foul in ball placement, and the more incidental type being the 15 yard penalty.
    I think the problem and a part in them not changing it, is actually the writing of the two differences out in text for an official rule book, as it being somewhat subjective at times I suppose. Same issue they appear to have in “what is a reception” anymore? Similar to pornography in law making as an example, hard to define in print, but know it when you see it, ha!

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