Robert Saleh, NY Jets, HC, Head Coach, Rule
Robert Saleh, New York Jets, Getty Images

Robert Saleh thinks the NFL should implement a new rule after the New York Jets were victimized in Week 2

The New York Jets were the victims of a bad roughing the passer penalty called on John Franklin-Myers in their Week 2 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. A few days after the game, the NFL admitted to Jets head coach Robert Saleh that they botched the call.

Speaking to the media on Friday, Saleh said that he would like to see the league make roughing the passer calls reviewable.

“Personally, I feel for the refs, because it’s a ‘when in doubt, throw the flag’. So if the mindset is to throw the flag when in doubt, then you should be able to review that,” Saleh said when asked whether he thinks roughing penalties should be reviewable.

“Because it’s just ‘throw the flag’. It’s no different than an instant replay, like on ‘let the play play’ on a possible turnover, we could always go to replay to fix it. Let a scoring play play because you could always go to review to play it. Well, that’s kind of similar in that regard, where you’re just, throw it when in doubt. Throw it, and then hopefully from a review standpoint you can get it fixed. So, I would be for it.”

Saleh has an excellent point. It’s bizarre that the NFL has access to such fantastic instant-replay technology but decides to fully trust the split-second judgment calls of the referees when it comes to penalties. Fans at home can see that a call is potentially incorrect within 10 seconds after the play ends, but these plays are forced to stand regardless of whether they are right or wrong.

If the league can admit that calls are wrong after the game, why can’t it put in the effort to get calls right on gameday?

As Saleh says, the refs are placed in an unfair position when it comes to calling roughing the passer penalties. These plays happen extremely fast and the refs have to make a reactionary decision on whether to throw the flag or not. So, if they’re in doubt, they usually decide to just throw the flag.

It’s completely unrealistic to expect the refs to nail 100% of the judgment calls correctly. Many things can happen on a play that the refs may not have noticed when watching it live. On top of that, the ref who threw the flag might not even have had the best possible vantage point to see everything that happened.

With instant replay, the NFL has the ability to maximize the accuracy of these calls and avoid having to rely on instantaneous judgment from human beings.

These penalties are game-altering and deserve the necessary attention to ensure they are called accurately. How many times is the NFL going to come out and admit mid-week that they botched a penalty call when they have all of the necessary technology to get it right on gameday?

Saleh makes another great point. As he described, it would make sense for the refs to continue using the mindset of “just throw the flag” as long as the play is reviewable, just like the refs use the mindset of “let the play play” on turnovers. They can do that on turnovers because they know replay can be used to fix the play afterward. But on penalties, once the flag is down, the call is essentially final (save for when they occasionally get picked up).

For the most part, the NFL has seemed averse to making judgment calls reviewable. In recent history, the closest such rule the NFL tried was the reviewable pass interference system that was used for one season in 2019 – and it was considered a flop.

As a reaction to the infamous missed call in the 2018-19 NFC Championship Game that landed the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl and sent the New Orleans Saints home, the NFL implemented a one-season tryout of making pass interference penalties reviewable and challengable.

The league was unhappy with the results. Of the 81 pass interference penalties that were challenged in 2019, just 13 were overturned. The rule was scrapped after one season. NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said the pass interference system “failed miserably.”

Perhaps we will never see roughing the passer penalties reviewable. At the very least, though, we know one NFL head coach is in favor of it – and he’s right. Hopefully, the league will start to see the logic in what Saleh said.

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at] - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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