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The Down By Contact Rule (1 Viewer)

jeff_eaglz

Moderator
This discussion carried over from a somewhat hijacked thread:

http://forums.footballguys.com/forum/index...howtopic=219884

But I thought the concept of discussing the "down by contact" rule deserved its own thread.

There are many fumbles that never happen in the NFL, or at least never have the chance to happen, due to referees ruling a player "down by contact". That ends the play (like on a blown whistle) and nothing beyond that point can be challenged.

POTENTIAL change of possessions are one of the biggest plays in the NFL, especially with 80+% of teams winning if they win the turnover margin by 2 or more. That's big.

How is this suggestion:

Automatic official challenges.

Let the play run all the time, on batted QB pass/fumbles and "is he down or not" / "down by contact" / fumble plays. Stop play once the ball is recovered. After each of those - automatic review by the booth. These plays are at the most 5 times a game, often less.

Should the play be reviewed and a turnover awarded, the play stands since it ran and there was no whistle. If there is no turnover - then it is "down by contact" from the booth and they can spot the ball.

Length of game arguments pale in comparison to getting turnovers (or non-turnovers) corrected.

 

mad sweeney

Footballguy
This discussion carried over from a somewhat hijacked thread:

http://forums.footballguys.com/forum/index...howtopic=219884

But I thought the concept of discussing the "down by contact" rule deserved its own thread.

There are many fumbles that never happen in the NFL, or at least never have the chance to happen, due to referees ruling a player "down by contact". That ends the play (like on a blown whistle) and nothing beyond that point can be challenged.

POTENTIAL change of possessions are one of the biggest plays in the NFL, especially with 80+% of teams winning if they win the turnover margin by 2 or more. That's big.

How is this suggestion:

Automatic official challenges.

Let the play run all the time, on batted QB pass/fumbles and "is he down or not" / "down by contact" / fumble plays. Stop play once the ball is recovered. After each of those - automatic review by the booth. These plays are at the most 5 times a game, often less.

Should the play be reviewed and a turnover awarded, the play stands since it ran and there was no whistle. If there is no turnover - then it is "down by contact" from the booth and they can spot the ball.

Length of game arguments pale in comparison to getting turnovers (or non-turnovers) corrected.
I actually think they have it right in the way it's SUPPOSED to be done. A questionable fumble should find the refs NOT blowing a quick whistle and then if necessary a coach can challenge it. Most of the time this won't cost anyone a TO or challenge since their own staff and the big screen should allow them to make very informed decisions to challenge or not. And if it's found to be a fumble recovered by the D, even with a quick whislte, it's to be given to the D at the spot of the fumble. That's the way it's supposed to be. However I still find that there are WAY too many quick whistles that render this part of the process moot. Every year the league tries to emphasize rules that are new or have faded a bit and they were supposed to work on that. But clearly the refs are blowing the whistle too early still.
 

bicycle_seat_sniffer

Smells like chicken
I dont care when the whistle was blown, if you can correct the call with replay, correct the call.This shouldn't even be an issue. NFL has to change that rule.

 

apalmer

Footballguy
And the first time a star QB (or RB or WR) gets hurt by a guy trying to recover a "fumble" that should have been blown dead because the guy was actually down and the ref didn't blow the whistle what happens?

 

bicycle_seat_sniffer

Smells like chicken
And the first time a star QB (or RB or WR) gets hurt by a guy trying to recover a "fumble" that should have been blown dead because the guy was actually down and the ref didn't blow the whistle what happens?
Thems the brakes.Refs need to learn to whistle when the play is over.

 

DropKick

Footballguy
And the first time a star QB (or RB or WR) gets hurt by a guy trying to recover a "fumble" that should have been blown dead because the guy was actually down and the ref didn't blow the whistle what happens?
Thems the brakes.Refs need to learn to whistle when the play is over.
"Thems the brakes"? (breaks!) So a player (or career) being exposed to injury is simply a break of the game but an inadvertent whistle is the single most important thing separating victory from defeat? You've been sniffing too many bicycle seats. The reason you can't "correct a call with replay" after the whistle blows is simply that the play is over. The players know to stop trying once they hear the whistle.

It's a rule that WILL NEVER change because it makes sense. As someone else stated, the NFL has tried to address this by instructing officials to defer blowing the whistle whenever possible.

The key is when do you blow the whistle? Too soon and you could miss a turnover. Too late and you expose a player to unnecessary injury. A real "can't win" situation fo an official because even a 95% accuracy rate is not good enough for some.

In general, there is inconsistency in officiating. I've seen players flagged for taunting after a TD celebration yet seen a defender literally barking in the face of a receiver after an incompletion go unflagged. How about forward progress? In theory, the play is over once a player's forward progress is stopped and he is dragged backwards. Yet, balls pulled/poked loose after this point are regarded as fumbles at times. Another one that strikes me as widely subjective is when a player is forced out of bounds on a reception. Some times, they simply focus on the player's feet and appear to never consider the force out perspective.

Of course, some differences are expected with people responsible for the calls. In comparison to other sports, I think the NFL is pretty good and continues to refine that part of the game. Consider balls and strikes in baseball. Players learn this umpire calls a low strike; this one has a wide strike zone and they adapt. Also, baseball has ignored the merit of replay. I've seen several home runs taken away when an umpire, a couple hundred feet away, doesn't get a good look at where a ball lands. Basketball? One minute a massive collision goes uncalled and then a tick-tack hand contact is whistled. I can't make any sense out of it.

 

bro1ncos

IBL Representative
And the first time a star QB (or RB or WR) gets hurt by a guy trying to recover a "fumble" that should have been blown dead because the guy was actually down and the ref didn't blow the whistle what happens?
Thems the brakes.Refs need to learn to whistle when the play is over.
This coming from someone who has obviously never played the game, nor has he ever been a referee on the field of play. :rolleyes:
 

jeff_eaglz

Moderator
Bumped......I heard on ESPN today (1/17) that the competition committee will be looking into the rules for down by contact (in addition to "what is a catch / interception).This was more of a hot button topic last week with a few possible fumbles blown dead by the officials who ruled down by contact.

 

Jimmy James

Footballguy
The key is when do you blow the whistle? Too soon and you could miss a turnover. Too late and you expose a player to unnecessary injury.
I think the even more compelling reason for delaying the whistle even longer or something like that is that the officials risk a situation where nobody would be able to determine who really had possession, even on replay. Think of an extreme case like the Mike Alstott 2 point conversion in the Redskins game and add a potential fumble. Talk about a nightmare situation for an official...
 

FreeBaGeL

Footballguy
Personally I hate the idea that they should always let the play go on. Sure, it's annoying when it ends up being a situation that would've changed possession, but letting the play go every time would vastly skew the curve towards turnovers.Why? The rule with replay is that the replay must be conclusive to overturn the call on the field. So if the call on the field is always a fumble, then whenever we can't tell what it really was it gets ruled a fumble. Even if the ref thinks it was probably not a fumble, it still stands as a fumble because the evidence has to be conclusive.

 

NEUPJ

Footballguy
I read a couple weeks ago that the NFL is infact going to discuss making a change to the rule. The rule will basically be, it CAN be reviewed if the defense immediately gains possesion after the fumble. Any yardage will not count and if there's a huge scuffle over the ball etc. then it can't be reviewed. It was on ESPN.com I believe. Let me see if I can find the link.

 

Pittsburgh P

Footballguy
from Paul "Dr. Z" Zimmerman at SI.com from 1/13/06

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writ...bag.0113/3.html

Mike of Naperville, Ill., seems to be setting me up for a classic knockoff. First a very laudatory paragraph about my contributions. Then the business end ... "You're the only guy that can ... " and I'll finish the sentence for you, Mike, because I know what's coming ... "that can get hold of Paul Tagliabue's wallet ... "Now this is going to be tough. Should I read further? Why not? OK, here's the real deal. Mike hates the replay set-up being stymied by that phony "down by contact" ruling that often comes out of nowhere, when no whistle has been sounded. He wants me to use my vast (I don't even wear one) influence to get this problem addressed.

Let's roll back the clock to the early days of instant replay. The officials hated it. It was like working a game with a big eye overhead. Now it's Pro Bowl time in Honolulu. I'm standing in the buffet line at the Friday night party at the governor's mansion. Standing in front of me is Ben Dreith, the veteran referee who was a little flaky, who would pop off on occasion. We were, and still are, forbidden to talk to NFL officials. But I was in disguise, see, with a fake mustache and Mickey Mouse ears, so I took a chance and asked Ben, "How do you like instant replay?" He snorted and then launched into a tirade. "Replay ... I'll show them replay," he said. "We've got something called Inadvertent Whistle. That'll take care of their replay. You just watch"

Do you remember the year when every game had its share of Inadvertent Whistles, just like today's Down by Contact? I sure do. It was horrible. Then the league office got after them and told them to stop the foolishness, and they did. Right now Down by Contact is their blue plate special, the call you cannot argue with. I hope it goes the way their other blue plater did.

 

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