Just when you thought we finally had the full reckoning of officiating mistakes from the Monday Night Football debacle at Lambo, a new stream of information trickled in yesterday. Return man Jamal Agnew told Kyle Meinke from Mlive.com, that a 53-yard punt in the second half downed inside Detroit’s 20-yard line should have been nullified because it hit an ESPN skycam wire.
In a game defined by botched officiating decisions, there's another to add to the list: A Packers punt that hit a camera wire https://t.co/3BCux2Ut7o— kyle meinke (@kmeinke) October 17, 2019
The rule in question is Rule 7, Section 2 Article 1(r): “if a loose ball in play strikes a video board, guide wire, sky cam, or any other object, the ball will be dead immediately, and the down will be replayed at the previous spot.” What is particularly galling about this error is Note 1 which follows it, showing the league deliberately built in a backstop for this specific rule (emphasis added):
If there is not an on-field ruling that the ball struck an object, the Replay Official is empowered to initiate a booth review, even if the event occurs prior to the two-minute warning. If, prior to the two-minute warning, no booth review is initiated by the Replay Official, a coach’s challenge is permitted under the established rules for such a challenge.
While not as game-changing as the hands-to-the-chest flags thrown at Trey Flowers, forcing a replay of the punting down could have changed field position by a significant amount. The Green Bay punting unit would have lost the great result from the first punt (inside the 20) which would have to be repeated, and a do-over would have given Agnew a fair opportunity to at least attempt a return.
Officiating enthusiast site Football Zebras posted a detailed analysis of the Tracy Walker strict liability penalty, and concluded that it was incorrectly assessed as well. The crux of the problem with the Walker penalty was that the rule only places strict liability on the player initiating contact to prevent illegal contact. Since the contact was incidental and not “forcible,” it did not fall under the scope of strict liability.
Flag for Tracy Walker helmet hit should have been picked up https://t.co/bE38nUOKYZ— Fᴏᴏᴛʙᴀʟʟ Zᴇʙʀᴀs (@footballzebras) October 17, 2019
Many defensive players across the league have expressed concern about the way this penalty was adjudicated during the game, including Vikings safety Harrison Smith and Richard Sherman from the 49ers:
Sounds about right sadly.... https://t.co/N4y1UXTD7k— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) October 18, 2019
So where do we go from here? Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer wrote about the unanimous support from head coaches in the league for the eighth official and sky judge proposals at the last Annual League Meeting in March 2019. According to Breer, “one veteran head coach said to the others that he’d never seen that kind of unanimous support from the full group of NFL head coaches.” That work is expected to serve as the foundation for the next steps to improving officiating:
The belief that I heard at the Fall League Meeting that just wrapped up here in Florida is that all the work that the coaches put in last winter will be reprised around the time of the Senior Bowl in a few months, and potentially presented when the competition committee meets again at the combine in February.
And now, on to the rest of today’s Notes:
- There was a swap out at running back made yesterday by the Lions:
Nobody loves churning out running backs more than the 2019 Detroit Lions. https://t.co/XaU8jlamtr— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) October 17, 2019
- Justin Rogers at the Detroit News checked in with Taylor Decker, who is “rounding into form after (a) sluggish start to (the) season.”
- From Dave Birkett at the Detroit Free Press, Justin Coleman and the rest of the secondary have a friendly competition among themselves to break up passes and accumulate big plays. Big Play Slay had something to add that did not make the story:
Justin Coleman was asked if he holds his higher number of PBUs over Slay’s head.— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) October 16, 2019
Slay chimes in from 2 lockers over: “Aaron (Rodgers) don’t give me no chances anymore.”
- Former Lions fullback Michael Burton is getting another shot in Washington. While happy for him to make a roster, it makes me sad to see him wearing that jersey.
- Kyle Meinke at mlive.com took a look at how Mike Zimmer’s Minnesota Vikings defenses have had success getting pressure against Matthew Stafford throughout his career.
- 45 dollar standing room tickets are available (limit 10 per transaction/customer according to the site) for Sunday’s game against the Vikings.
- ABC World News Tonight did a segment on Kelly Stafford’s brain surgery experience (h/t to our own @MansurShaheen):