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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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Shockwaves from Brady, Pats punishment

Posted by Darren Urban on May 11, 2015 – 3:03 pm

The NFL handed down its punishment of the New England Patriots for deflating footballs — and for, how the NFL and Ted Wells saw it, the subsequent cover-up. It is significant. First is a four-game suspension for quarterback Tom Brady. There was also a $1 million fine, and, as it impacts the rest of the league, the Patriots have to give up their 2016 first-round draft pick and their fourth-round pick in 2017.

Two of the lines from the statement released of NFL executive president Troy Vincent that came along with the punishment stood out to me:

— “We regard violations of competitive rules as significant and deserving of a strong sanction, both to punish the actual violation and to deter misconduct in the future.” In other words, we definitely want to scare teams/players out of trying anything like this going forward.

— “Violations that diminish the league’s reputation for integrity and fair play cannot be excused simply because the precise impact on the final score cannot be determined.” In other words, the footballs that were deflated might have not changed anything on the field, but you can’t be messing with the rules. Perception is reality.

The league acknowledged the trouble the Patriots got in 2007 for videotaping opponents’ signals came into play. None of this directly impacts the Cardinals. The Cards aren’t playing the Patriots this season, nor are any of the NFC West teams. Right now, Brady does stand to miss one game against an NFC team — a trip to Dallas. But there is still the possibility Brady will have the suspension shortened on appeal, and if that happens, the game against the Cowboys is the first thing to reappear on his to-do list since it would be the fourth game he would miss. (And you know Brady will appeal.) Losing draft picks helps every other team too.

Tom Brady


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