The New York Jets could have used a roughing the passer review in 2022
Each offseason, the NFL Competition Committee convenes to review various rule changes proposed by teams. In recent seasons, the committee has made various rule changes, including significant alterations to kickoffs, extra points, and penalties.
Next week, the committee will discuss what became one of the most contentious calls in the NFL this past season: roughing the passer.
NFL Competition Comm. wrapped up first day of meetings at the Combine. One team has proposed making roughing the passer reviewable by replay. Committee will discuss tomorrow, early indication is little appetite in the room for making it reviewable.
— Judy Battista (@judybattista) February 26, 2023
This discussion has pervaded the league after a series of highly questionable calls determined the outcomes of games throughout the 2022 season.
I would like to see this happen.
There add way too many roughing the passer penalties that should have never been called that have had a major impact in key moments. https://t.co/cLznA1r3Ly
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) February 26, 2023
However, the NFL will likely contend that the rate of roughing the passer actually decreased by 39.6% year-over-year, from 154 in 2021 down to 93 total in 2022 (including the playoffs).
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There is also the perennial issue of game length: the more plays that become reviewable, the more the game is slowed down. Since the NFL is trying to make games faster, this rule would be counterproductive to their overall goal.
For the New York Jets, such a rule change may have proven handy in 2022 for a few reasons.
First and foremost, they were the lone team not to benefit from a single roughing-the-passer penalty for the entire 2022 season, per nflpenalties.com.
While officials would likely say that it just didn’t happen, it seems highly suspect that a team’s quarterback would never have been hit illegally, particularly when hits like these are considered illegal.
The roughing the passer call after the Falcons' Grady Jarrett hit the Bucs' Tom Brady, and the roasting of it from Fox's Daryl Johnston. pic.twitter.com/3ba6PCdrHm
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) October 9, 2022
Chris Jones gets called for roughing the passer pic.twitter.com/QiTlE3CbiL
— Mr Matthew CFB (@MrMatthewCFB) October 11, 2022
THIS IS THE WORST ROUGHING THE PASSER CALL OF THE YEAR! pic.twitter.com/iOfar13srX
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) January 16, 2023
The worst non-call for the Jets on offense was likely this play against the Bills.
Besides this, the Jets were called for five roughing the passer penalties defensively in 17 games. The most memorable one was John Franklin-Myers’s penalty against Mac Jones that wiped out an 84-yard pick-six by Michael Carter II. In many ways, that nullified touchdown can be seen as a turning point of sorts for the Jets’ whole season.
It’s not that it wasn’t a flag, necessarily. Mike Pereira and others argued that it absolutely was: late, high, hard. But it was evident that the official waited to see the result of the play before calling the flag, and the general uneven way roughing the passer was officiated this season made it a tough wallow.
Would that have been overturned on replay review, though? Based on what we saw a few years ago from pass interference reviews, the answer is clearly no.
Ultimately, reviews of any penalties will only get anywhere if the head of officiating is willing to show some humility and also share authority. If he is the sole arbiter of all penalty replays and never overturns the calls, as he did not with pass interference reviews, the whole exercise is a waste of time.
The way to make penalty reviews effective is to use a sky judge to call down automatically and correct the call rather than reviewing it frame by frame. It is meant to overturn only the most egregious calls, like the ones shown above.
Would the Jets have benefited from any replays, in that case? Likely not. The roughing-the-passer calls on JFM, Nathan Shepherd, Micheal Clemons, Carl Lawson, and Vinny Curry were all either legitimate or too close to overturn. Meanwhile, the ones on their quarterbacks were usually not clear-cut enough to warrant a call in a league where such calls were down by nearly 40%.
Still, it is as frustrating for Jets fans as it is for the rest of the league to see the level of uneven officiating. It reached new heights in 2022 precisely because of the decrease in calls; the bad ones became that much more spotlighted. It felt impossible to know which hits were legal and which were not.
As Judy Battista alluded to in her tweet, the Competition Committee does not appear likely to make any changes. 24 out of 32 owners must vote in favor of a change for it to be implemented. Having seen the way PI reviews went a few years back, most owners will likely throw their hands up and call it a lost cause.
It will be Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich’s task this offseason to instill some discipline in their players regarding late hits. Tying for the league’s second-most roughing-the-passer penalties (5) is an ignominious distinction the Jets would prefer to shed.
One way or another, they will not be able to rely on replay to do it for them.