Count me among the few people who liked the fact that the NFL wasn’t overturning very many pass interference calls.
This season’s great experiment to see if judgement calls are worth reversing has been good from one perspective: It has actually discouraged coaches from challenging too much. One of the great downsides of replay has been boring stoppages in play by encouraging replay.
Nobody buys a ticket or even tunes into a game to watch somebody officiate a game. Just doesn’t happen.
OK, maybe the first or second time that somebody becomes a ref in the NFL. After that, it’s about as exciting as watching your kid take an SAT.
Son, let me know how you did when the scores arrive.
Anyway, the NFL had done a good job of limiting the desire of coaches to get loopy with the PI challenges. From Week 4 to Week 11, coaches had gone only 1 for 33 on PI challenges, according to the dutiful research of ESPN’s Kevin Seifert. That included the controversial non-call and refusal to change the non-call against Baltimore’s Marlon Humphrey, when he pretty clearly interfered with Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins last Sunday.
While some people have mocked the league for that, I actually applaud it. Yes, the league needed some type of replay rule to deal with what happened in the Rams-Saints playoff game.
What it doesn’t need is a whole lot changing judgement calls that get into the heads of officials, who already have a brutal job and therefore, undermines officiating even more.
Then, just when I had the belief that the NFL was getting this right – yeah, I know most of you disagree, I don’t care – here comes an official’s review and change of a pretty mundane play in the Miami-Cleveland game. It’s the kind of play that will open the door again for coaches to want to challenge.
The pass to the Browns Odell Beckham was a ball that clearly behind him, but the officials reviewed the play. No one of Cleveland was screaming for a review. It was second down and Freddie Kitchens actually looked a little surprised that the review was even requested.
He was almost flabbergasted when the call was reversed and Miami’s Nick Needham was flagged. It gave the Browns first and goal at the six and Kareem Hunt scored to make it 27-0 on the next play.
Was it pass interference? Maybe a little bit, but not enough to make it worthy of reversal. Certainly not this year. The fact that it was even reviewed was startling.
But the bigger point is that the league doesn’t need this.
Yes, you can make the argument that the league needs to get plays right. At the same time, there probably a penalty of some kind on every other play, if not more. If you want to get every call right on every play, that’s a noble goal.
I hope you like seven-hour games.
There is a level of humanness that we all need to tolerate when it comes to officiating. The best the league can hope for is that officials are consistent across the board. But even that is wishful.
Everything that is done erodes the confidence of officials, which is bad for the game. This is not just about the actual calls, it’s about the operation of the game. That’s what officials really do. They make sure the game runs smoothly. The best way to do that is if the officials are confident.
In addition, nobody wants more stoppages.
Sure, if there’s a way to streamline replay so that it doesn’t take too much time, that would be great. So far, there haven’t been a lot of solutions for that.
What nobody wants is more stoppages. On Sunday, the NFL opened the door in Cleveland for more.
Dolphins “limbo game” with QB Josh Rosen remains
The Dolphins continue to do their diligence on the possible drafting of a franchise type quarterback that they may be able to get their hands on in the upcoming in April. However, there remains a looming question with what to do with the former first-round pick QB that they acquired last April.
Josh Rosen remains, for now, part of the Dolphins plans, yet, even his biggest supporters have to concede ,that Rosen is likely “the odd man out” should Miami take one of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft.
That’s because GM Chris Grier and coach Brian Flores are obviously committed to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. We know this because Fitzpatrick not only rallied the team for several wins down the stretch of the season, but that Miami has also gone and hired Fitzpatrick’s former offensive coordinator and head coach at two of his other stops, Chan Gailey for this season.
That’s not something that the Dolphins brass did lightly, and it foreshadows that Fitzpatrick will likely be the quarterback that they begin the regular season with, just as they did in 2019.
So, where exactly does that leave Rosen, who played very little last year, but has a salary cap friendly contract?
It likely means that he’s only “an insurance policy” that could be dropped at any point for very little salary cap ramifications.
We wrote near the end of last season that it did not make any sense that Miami wasn’t at least giving Rosen game action and some live reps in games last December, if only to see once and for all, if they could develop him into a quarterback for the future?
Obviously, the Dolphins spoke loudly with their actions, and by not even playing Rosen in any of the last seven games, they were indicating he’s expendable.
Dolphins beat writer for the Miami Herald Armando Salguero wrote Wednesday morning about Rosen situation, but shed very little light on what his actual future is. This is primarily because whether it’s Salguero, other media or anyone else not named Flores/Grier, they don’t know for sure what Rosen’s immediate, much less longer range, 2020 future is.
Sure, they could hang on to Rosen through the offseason and have him try to compete for playing time.
But, that seems to be a futile exercise if the Fins have already made up their mind that Fitzpatrick will start the year. And then, you’re drafting a rookie quarterback drafting a rookie quarterback, again to potentially be the future of the franchise.
Then again, Fitzpatrick is 37 years old and could break down physically along the way, well before the start of next season. So, keeping Rosen as that insurance policy along with the rookie Miami likely drafts, isn’t the worst idea.
However, for now, the 23 year old former UCLA star is in limbo.
And, for all we know, he could be cut to begin free agency coming up.
Certainly not giving Rosen a start in any of the last 11 games on an awful team is a clear indication that Grier and Flores didn’t believe in him. This after acquiring him and watching him all offseason, preseason and in the games that he did play.
We now await their next move with Rosen, and certainly, he does, too.
Stafford trade rumor reminder Dolphins better be ready to trade up
On Thursday morning a report surfaced that the Lions, who are currently slated to pick third in April’s NFL Draft, were actively looking to trade former Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Stafford. And, while that report has now been debunked, for teams like the Dolphins sitting in the fifth Spot, this is reminder of their reality of what could happen if someone jumps in front of them, in particular for a QB.
First, the report surfaced late Wednesday night from a local Detroit TV station that their sports reporter/anchor had learned that the Lions were looking for a trade partner for the 11-year veteran Stafford:
Sources: Lions in trade talks to deal Matthew Stafford https://t.co/1lH2yRxGZx
— Local 4 WDIV Detroit (@Local4News) February 13, 2020
That report was quickly squashed by lions GM Bob Quinn and numerous NFL media reporters and salary cap experts pointed out that Stafford’s cap hit would be a massive $32 million dollars, if he is traded or released this season.
So it’s not likely, no matter how bad the situation is with the Lions, the Stafford is going anywhere.
But, that doesn’t mean that the Redskins, who are picking second and the Giants were picking 4th after the Lions and obviously both before the Dolphins at five, aren’t going to also be in the market to listen to trade offers for their picks.
This is, because Washington seems to be committed, for now with a new head coach and Ron Rivera, to last year’s first round quarterback pick, Dwayne Haskins
And likewise, the Giants have obviously made a commitment to their number one pick up last year, Daniel Jones. This after 2 time Super Bowl winning veteran quarterback Eli Manning announced his retirement, recently.
So, both NFC East teams appear to be targets, if a team (including the Dolphins) would look to try to increase their draft position.
This is in particular if that team were interested in the second best quarterback available in the draft, which is likely Alabama Tua Tagovailoa.
As was reported earlier this week, Tagovailoa is on schedule to heal from a fractured hip suffered last November in Alabama’s game with Mississippi State. While Tua won workout at the NFL combine later this month, it’s believed that he would likely work out for teams Alabama facility later in March or April.
One final factor in favor of the Dolphins and GM Chris Grier: they have some trade capital, including extra first-round pick this year and next year, with which the potentially move up if they so desire.
It’s all part of the evaluation process and then, the drama of what the teams at the top of the first round will look to do later this Spring.
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