When the league passed its new pass interference review calls, I opined that it was the league’s latest attempt to put a bandage on a gaping chest wound, namely the overall state of officiating. Time will tell if that’s true or not, but Dan Quinn appears to share some of our skepticism, even if he’s by necessity more positive about it.
At the league’s spring meetings, here’s what Quinn had to say about Sean Payton’s hobby horse, a rule that the Falcons will hope to not run afoul of often with their current group of defensive backs and could benefit them if some of the unaddressed grabbing of Julio Jones comes up for review:
“It can be a good idea. Let’s make sure we all know the standard of what that is. I think back to last year, we really nailed down what a catch is. I would anticipate that if we’re going to have something that’s reviewable, it better be clear to everybody who’s watching that’s it.
If you’re at home or at the bar, OK, that’s pass interference, and then we can challenge what that would be. As long as it is very clear. The subjective ones were very hard. That’s why a catch was very hard. In bounds or out of bounds is not as hard -- was he down or not or did he cross the goal line? The subjective ones are more challenging. In my opinion, let’s make sure the standard of what OPI or DPI is, if we go down that road, let’s make sure everybody is working from the same standard.”
The point Quinn makes here is a fair one, and is tied again to incoherence and uncertainty around what a call is and should be. The NFL struggled mightily to properly define a catch for many years, and I wouldn’t say I’m exactly convinced they’ve solved that issue entirely. Pass interference is called somewhat subjectively, as we’re all aware, and just because there will be more opportunities to review calls does mean all the calls will be right.
The good news, as I alluded to above, is that the Falcons don’t have any particular reasons to fear more scrutiny on pass interference calls. New Orleans led the NFL with a mind-boggling 19 DPI calls in 2018, and that was including some grabby plays by Marshon Lattimore in particular that were just missed. In contrast, the Falcons had just nine of them, and five of them belonged to an ailing Robert Alford, who is off to Arizona. The Falcons will hopefully be able to keep the number low again in 2019.
That said, without that clearly defined standard, OPI and DPI reviews run the risk of not just bogging down games but exacerbating the problems posed by bad calls in the first place. Let’s hope Dan Quinn’s sliver of optimism here is not misplaced.