One of this week’s Sunday Splash! reports came from NFL Media, courtesy of NFL senior V.P. of officiating training and development Walt Anderson.
Anderson explained that officials entered the season with a focus on calling only “clear and obvious” fouls.
“When we were preparing, certainly going in, we had a theme of ‘clear and obvious’ and we wanted that to continue throughout the year,” Anderson told the league’s in-house TV/digital conglomerate. “We had to address clear and obvious. You can’t miss clear and obvious and it starts with that. Going forward we don’t want all of a sudden to start calling the ticky tack stuff. We want things that are clear.”
It’s good. It’s encouraging. It’s something that many have wanted the league to do for years.
But it’s also troubling, in one specific way. Per multiple sources, the league didn’t tell its teams about the new focus on “clear and obvious” fouls before the season began.
It seems to be precisely the kind of thing that teams would and should know about. Every year, the league takes great pain to explain all new rules and points of emphasis to the 32 franchises. It’s information that coaching staffs incorporate into their strategizing, planning, and teaching during training camp.
The teams should have had the benefit of this new focus when preparing for the season. It’s surprising, given the apparent effort to keep the new directive under wraps, that it was so openly disclosed now.
It’s possible that the league decided to own up to the new focus based on complaints received regarding calls not made in Week One, especially when it comes to holding penalties. Regardless, the NFL has now made it known to all that the officials will focus on calling only “clear and obvious” fouls.
The next question becomes whether the pendulum will quietly move in the other direction if the NFL decides that too many teams are trying to exploit the suggestion to toss flags more sparingly. If it happens, there’s a chance that the teams will find out about it only after the new approach already has been implemented.
NFL didn’t tell teams about it plan to focus on “clear and obvious” fouls originally appeared on Pro Football Talk