Jeff Triplette, Shutdown Corner's favorite NFL official, is at it again. This time, Triplette took his tremendous combination of "skills" to the Monday Night Football game between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. You'd think the NFL would want one of its best guys working a game of this importance, but as you'll see when Triplette no doubt gets another playoff assignment, the NFL doesn't seem to enforce any real standards when it comes to the competence of its officials.
Anyway, here's the Triplette goof this time. The Saints have third-and-12 at their own 8-yard line with 7:27 left in the game. Drew Brees drops back, doesn't see what he wants from the coverage reads, and scrambles to the right for a nine-yard gain and the end of New Orleans' offensive possession. Pretty innocuous play, especially since the Saints were beating the tar out of the Falcons and the result was academic at that point.
And that's when Triplette decided to make things more interesting. There was a flag thrown for holding, and after a mercifully brief discussion, Triplette made this ruling:
"There is no hold on the play … as it is a screen pass. The blocker was shedding him to the side."
Uh ... what?
Well, here's the first problem, Jeff. We don't know who either "the blocker" is, based on your description. You're having a conversation with your umpire about a flag that apparently shouldn't have been thrown, and that's fine. But it would help if you informed us of your thought process in the first place. We're assuming you're just not smart enough to realize that you have an obligation to describe the penalty, whether it's waved off or not, once you turn on your little microphone.
Unless, of course, our ancillary theory is correct and you're one of the increasing number of officials who are throwing and then picking up flags in a weak and completely lame attempt to get more TV facetime.
Fortunately, Ron Jaworski spelled it out in the ESPN booth.
"You can see [Saints left tackle] Jermon Bushrod laying on [Falcons defensive end] John Abraham," Jaworski said. "I'm not so sure it was a screen, though. In fact, it wasn't a screen."
Yeah … that's the second problem, Jeff. It WAS a hold, because it WASN'T a screen pass. It wasn't a pass at all. And there is no specific exception in the rulebook for a screen pass overthrowing a holding call even if it was a screen pass.
There is a provision that holding will not be called if it happens after a pass is clearly thrown, but Brees didn't throw a pass at all. He read his coverage, saw nobody open, and scrambled. There is another provision that holding won't be called if the action occurs away from the point of attack and not within close-line play. But Bushrod took Abraham to the ground and held him there, while Brees was still in the pocket and not two yards away from the hold.
So, Mr. Triplette, we ask you as we frequently do: What the hell were you talking about?