For the past couple months, it was clear the NFL was going to change the catch rule. The changes sound a lot like a more common sense approach.
NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent talked to Mark Maske of the Washington Post, and set forth the expected parameters of the fixed catch rule. Fans who are frustrated by what’s a catch and terms like “surviving the ground” will appreciate that it seems to be a simplified approach.
“Slight movement of the ball, it looks like we’ll reverse that,” Vincent told Maske. “Going to the ground, it looks like that’s going to be eliminated. And we’ll go back to the old replay standard of reverse the call on the field only when it’s indisputable.”
It sounds like plays that look like a catch will be ruled a catch. Infamous reversals like Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant’s non-catch at Lambeau Field in the playoffs three years ago or Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James’ score being overturned against the New England Patriots last year shouldn’t happen anymore.
“The Dez Bryant play, that’d be a catch” Vincent told the Washington Post. “The Jesse James play, that’d be a catch.”
Maske wrote the modified rule could be finalized Tuesday and presented to the owners next week at the league’s annual meeting.
There will still be issues, because it will always be hard to determine what’s a catch and what’s not. It’s a hard thing to officiate. There will still be moments when fans complain about a catch or non-catch call. By making the catch rule less detailed we’ll see more interpretation by officials, and that can lead to controversy, too. But what the NFL is trying to do is eliminate catches being reversed because the ball shifts slightly when it touches the ground or when it comes out when a receiver hits the ground, even if he clearly had control of the catch before going to the ground. Those are good things.
Over the past several days, the @NFL Competition Committee has been reviewing the process of a catch. The first two elements are control and two feet down. Additional elements are also under consideration. Here are a few of the plays we are looking at. pic.twitter.com/Ny3xs3vfst
— Al Riveron (@alriveron) March 19, 2018
It will still be challenging to get every call right, because officiating an NFL game is a difficult job in general. But if the NFL can cut down significantly on its fans spending Sunday complaining about the catch rule, it will be a welcomed change.
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