Even as the league tries to make amends with flaws in its rulebook, pass interference remains a hot-button topic for NFL fans everywhere. Even after one of the teams in last year’s Super Bowl made it there thanks in large part to a botched no-call regarding the rule, everyone appears to be clueless as to what is and isn’t pass interference in today’s game. That goes beyond the fans, however, and Packers head coach Matt LaFleur showed that he, too, is right there with them.
What did Matt LaFleur say about pass interference?
NFL officials have a reputation when it comes to pass interference, and it isn’t just the armchair quarterbacks who are noticing. Teams across the NFL are often questioning what is and isn’t pass interference in today’s game. What might be one official’s definition of pass interference might be another’s fair play, and this lack of consistency is making it harder on the teams than it will ever be for fans.
Matt LaFleur voiced this when he discussed this visible displeasure that teams have with the officials, speaking bluntly.
“I really don’t know what pass interference is anymore,” LaFleur said (per Packers.com). “I’ll just leave it at that.”
When not even the coaches are positive of the rules, it is on the NFL to fix the problem and make sure that every team, player, coach, and especially official knows exactly what to look for. While the NFL has tried to enforce changes that will make these calls easier, there’s a lot of work to do.
The NFL has floated changes to pass interference rules for years, and none of them stick. That does, however, make it harder and harder to know what is and isn’t pass interference in today’s game. The more changes that occur, the more the lines are blurred, and the harder it is to get the call correct.
Reviewing pass interference
After the Los Angeles Rams went to the Super Bowl in large part because of a botched pass interference no-call, the NFL knew that it had to make a statement regarding the rules. Had the play in question been reviewable, there is a good chance that the New Orleans Saints would have been the team who faced the Patriots in the Super Bowl, not the Rams, and the NFL had to deal with the fallout of such a major call.
One way they hoped to fix this is by allowing pass interference to be reviewed, just like several other plays. While this is a good start, there are some negatives to it, as well.
For one, NFL games are already long enough, and adding more reviews could make them even longer. The ruling, however, does not affect the number of challenges a team gets.
There is also the matter of what is and isn’t pass interference. Some of these plays have been obvious without the need for replay, yet officials continue to change the definition on a game-to-game basis. Adding replay to this could just mean that they have closer looks to reinterpret rules and frustrate everyone involved with the process.
NFL fans are just as confused as coaches
Adding reviews to pass interference is a step in the right direction for the NFL, but it is not an answer to the problem. Until the NFL can settle on clear language in the rule book that everyone from the referees to the payers can understand, there will be new ways for calls to be botched like they were in the NFC Championship last year.
When coaches are speaking out about the ignorance of the rule books, it is not a good sign. Referees, both good and bad, are allowed some sense of humanity and error out there, but when they don’t even appear to know the rules out there, it is hard to expect the players and fans to know them, too.