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NFL needlessly used pass interference replay in Dolphins game

Jason Cole

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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.

To set the scene, Cleveland was up 21-0 and driving, when Baker Mayfield threw from the Miami 21 yard line to towards the endzone.

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.

Ugh.

Jason Cole is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector who has covered the NFL since 1992. He has worked for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, The Miami Herald, Yahoo Sports! and Bleacher Report. He is the author or co-author of six books, including Giant with Plaxico Burress and Heart for the Game with Simon Keith.

Miami Dolphins

Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa present to start NFL combine

Florida Football Insiders

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John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Scouting Combine is getting underway in Indianapolis this week and on Monday morning, one of the prized quarterbacks that will be available early in the first round of the draft was there for official measurements and to meet with teams.

Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, whose season ended with a fractured hip last November, is on the road to recovery and he was officially measured and also, met with numerous teams that are looking at the possibility of drafting him:

In addition to not only the injured hip, but also a history of high ankle sprain problems, Tagovailoa has got to answer critics on his size. At just 6 – 0 feet there will be concerns about his ability to clearly see downfield through the massive bodies on NFL Sundays.

However, this can be combated by moving him around out of the pocket and that’s something that Alabama was successful at doing over his three years as well.

As we wrote recently, Tagovailoa was injured in Alabama’s 10th game of the season suffering a fractured hip on a sack late in the first half at Mississippi State. He missed the Tide’s final two regular-season games and then, their Citrus Bowl win January 1st, over Michigan

He came to Alabama from Hawaii and the same high school as Marcus Mariota, having thrown for over 8,000 yards which at that time was a Hawaii High School record. And, he had a career of 84 passing and 27 rushing touchdowns in three seasons.

Tua burst onto the scene nationally, when he relieved Jalen Hurts in the second half and overtime of Alabama’s thrilling title game win over Georgia in the 2018 College Football Playoff Championship Game. Tagovailoa threw the game-winning touchdown pass on the first overtime possession, as Alabama celebrated their fifth National Title in nine seasons under Saban.

In his second season at the helm in the 2018 regular season, Tagovailoa was named second-team AP All-American and was a Heisman Trophy finalist, as the Tide reached the National Title game, again, before being beaten soundly by Clemson 12 months ago.

As this junior season unfolded, Tagovailoa was named almost became synonymous with the Dolphins, who started the season horribly at 0 – 7 and the moniker “Tank for Tua” began to gain momentum in South Florida.

Tagovailoa is obviously on the Dolphins list to look at strongly to select in the top five in the draft and currently, Miami is slated to pick fifth.

It is expected that Tagovailoa will work out for teams probably later in March or maybe even, early April at the Tide’s facility in Tuscaloosa, prior to the NFL draft coming to Las Vegas.

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Colorado announced hire of Dolphins assistant Dorrel Sunday

Florida Football Insiders

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Former UCLA coach and recently promoted Dolphins assistant Karl Dorrell is headed back to college, as the new head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes.

The school confirmed Dorrell’s hire on Sunday evening with a five-year contract to take over their Big 12 program:

The Buffaloes have been seeking a head coach since there coach Mel Tucker abruptly left to take the Michigan State job earlier this month.

Dorrell came to the dolphins with Brian Flores this past season, as wide receiver coach and earlier last week was promoted to assistant head coach for the upcoming season. Miami’s top receiver, DeVante Parker, blossomed under Dorrell’s tutelage as the year went on. He finished the season with 72 catches for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns becoming the favorite target of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Dorrel is the latest Dolphins assistant on the move. Flores fired the offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea he brought with him from New England. And, his defensive coordinator Patrick Graham left to take the same job with the Giants.

Dorrell had also been the Dolphins receivers coach, previously from 2008 – 10 and then, their quarterbacks coach in 2011 under the late Tony Sparano.

Colorado’s athletic director Rick George said in a statement Sunday night,

“I am excited that Karl Dorrell has agreed to become our head football coach,” George said. “Karl has had great success as a college coach, both as a head coach and an assistant, and he knows the Pac-12 Conference and West Coast well. It was important that our next coach have CU ties, and Karl has those ties having worked at CU twice previously. Karl shares my passion for Colorado and our vision for winning championships. He will be a tremendous mentor and role model for our student-athletes, and he will provide great leadership for our program going forward.” 

The CU Board of Regents still have to approve Dorrell’s contract, which will be $18 million for five seasons.

Dorrell had previously been on Colorado staffs two other times in his career, including most recently as offensive coordinator under Rick Neuheisel from 1995- 98.

Dorrell was named head coach of his alma mater UCLA in 2003, where he lasted five seasons and went to a bowl game every year finishing with a career 35 – 27 record before being fired after the 2007 season.

Dorrell had previously been receivers coach for the New York Jets 2015 – 18 under Todd Bowles (above) and two of his receivers had made the Pro Bowl during his time there.

Colorado picked Dorrell from an interview process that also included former Buffaloes player and Kansas City Super Bowl offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, who interviewed and was under strong consideration.

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