The inconsistent application and rulings of the new NFL pass interference replay policy was, again, on full display Sunday afternoon at The Meadowlands. And when the league’s officiating command center gave the Jets a first down on a pass interference call that wasn’t even made by their game officials, it helped New York kick the winning field goal to beat the Dolphins 22 – 21.
And, understandably, Dolphins coach Brian Flores was none too happy with the whole thing.
Although Flores refused to elaborate about why he went running after and arguing with the officials before his post-game handshake with Jets coach (and former Dolphins boss) Adam Gase, it was clear he was none too pleased with the ending to the game.
From last nite…The afternoon for Brian Flores and Adam Gase: Emotions decided by an unseen strangerhttps://t.co/XkUmph2hWK
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) December 9, 2019
To reset the scene, the Jets were driving trying to retake the lead trailing 21 – 19. This was after Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders had made his seventh field goal from 37 yrards for Miami to hold a two-point advantage.
Then on a 3rd and 18 play, Sam Darnold’s incompletion to Vyncint Smith may or may not have been enough contact to throw a flag. The on-field officials let it go.
But, that’s when the NFL supervisor of officials Al Riveron, his assistants and the command center initiated a replay review, as it was under two minutes remaining in the game.
Eventually Riveron overruled the on-field refs, and he gave the Jets the pass interference call, a first down at the Miami 38, and it eventually led to Sam Ficken making the game winning field goal from 44 yards out with no time left.
Now, it was not the first time, even recently, that the NFL has done this in the final two minutes with the game on the line. In the Buccaneers win over the Arizona Cardinals last month, Riveron and the command center overruled the on-field officials having not thrown a flag. That’s when Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans was clearly interfere with in the end zone, as Tampa Bay was looking for the go-ahead touchdown.
The Buccaneers got a first and goal at the one, scored and won the game 30 – 27.
Further adding to the confusion and controversy is that the NFL has been so reluctant to overturn flags for pass interference, one way or the other, throughout this first year of using instant replay for pass interference.
However the command center in New York has now demonstrated, not just with the Evans situation but even another case in the Dolphins-Browns game a couple of weeks ago, that they will use replay to overrule their on-field officials and make a penalty call in the final two minutes of a half or game.
Our Jason Cole wrote that this aspect of the review mechanism is troubling and potentially only going to get worse. This is because the league is interjecting themselves rather than backing their guys on the field who didn’t throw a flag unless it is blatantly obvious.
Back to Sunday, Miami had numerous chances, especially early, to get touchdowns while moving inside the Jets 10 yard line. However, three times, Sanders kicked a field goal of 28 yards or less giving Miami only nine points at the half.
The Dolphins had plenty of struggles in losing to Gase/their AFC East rival, and the replay decisions out New York aren’t going to make anyone feel any better about it.
Looks like Tua Tagovailoa will work out for teams prior to draft
There will be numerous NFL teams interested, including the Dolphins, on just how healthy injured Alabama star Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is. And, a report on Wednesday says that Tua will likely be ready to throw for teams later in the offseason draft process.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that “NFL quarterback super-agent” Leigh Steinberg and his firm are letting teams know that Tagovailoa’s injured hip should be healed enough for him to be able to throw in early April prior to the NFL Draft at the end of the month:
From our Championship Wednesday coverage on @NFLNetwork: #Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa may throw for NFL teams during a Pro Day in mid-April, thanks to some very positive health news. pic.twitter.com/ooVJCyf0ij
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 15, 2020
This will be especially important for teams like the Dolphins, who will be selecting fifth currently in the upcoming selection process.
Tagovailoa 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.
However, Tagovailoa was injured in Alabama’s 10th game of the season suffering the hip injury on a sack late in the first half at Mississippi State. He missed the Tide’s final two regular-season games and their recent Citrus Bowl win over Michigan two weeks due to the injury.
Typically, players participate in some kind of individual workout or pro day, but as Rappaport relayed, most teams already know what Tagovailoa can do from his previous two seasons at Alabama. The bigger concern is his health and specifically his mobility, as he progresses through the summer and into the first NFL training camp and preseason of his career.
It is believed the Tagovailoa is the second, or at worst third rated, quarterback behind LSU Heisman Trophy winning National Championship QB Joe Burrow. Burrow is expected to be taken first overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in late April.
Who is new Dolphins defensive coordinator Josh Boyer?
On Sunday night, the Dolphins finally decided to allow first-year defensive coordinator Patrick Graham to leave and take the same position with the New York Giants. And, coach Brian Flores moved quickly to promote a member of his staff, Josh Boyer, to be his defensive play-caller
So exactly who is former New England assistant that will now be in charge Miami’s defensive unit? More on him in a moment.
First, as we wrote, Miami had wavered Saturday night and Sunday on whether to let Graham go to the Giants to be with new head coach, Joe Judge, creating an important void. Graham was only being given a “lateral move” to New York, and Miami could have continued to block him. But, in the end, Flores had someone he could trust already on staff.
That’s Boyer, who has just completed his 14th season in the NFL, all previously in New England and then, obviously, his first with the Fins after coming with Flores last February.
Boyer’s background is as a secondary coach and specifically, working with cornerbacks. He held that job for his last seven seasons in New England 2012 – 18 and was part of three Super Bowl championships under Bill Belichick.
Boyer deserves credit for helping the development of defensive backs like Malcolm Butler, who sealed Super Bowl 49 win over the Seahawks with his famous goal-line interception of Russell Wison in the final half minute of the game. Boyer also worked closely with Pro Bowlers Logan Ryan and more recently, Stephon Gilmore, who iced Super Bowl 53 win last February with a late INT against the Rams.
This past year was obviously a trying one for the Dolphins defensively, as they finished 32nd in scoring and 30th in overall in defense. But Boyer cannot be judged too much, given the cornerbacks he was working with, especially late in the year.
He had his best player, former number one pick Minkah Fitzpatrick, traded away in the first month to the Steelers. Miami also lost veteran Bobby McCain to injury later in the year and had a depleted secondary at the very end of the season.
However, Boyer (shown above with DB Eric Rowe after his week 17 pick six of Tom Brady) obviously impressed Flores and GM Chris Grier with his coaching to get the promotion.
And, he’s following a similar path as Flores, who worked his way up from secondary coach to defensive coordinator with the Pats.
Now, we’ll see if Miami can bolster their defensive backfield this off sesaon.
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