Rich McKay on where NFL stands on status of replay use: ‘Anywhere but close to finish line’

PHOENIX – The conversation regarding how instant replay will be used moving forward will be heavily debated over the next three days as NFL owners, head coaches and general managers gather here for the annual league meetings.

To this point, the decision on the matter is “anywhere but close to the finish line” according to Rich McKay, Falcons president and CEO and chairman of the competition committee.

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Of the 16 rule proposal changes submitted this year, nine are related to replay in some regard. Two of proposals were submitted by the competition committee and the seven others were submitted by clubs. It’s important to note a rule change requires 24 out of 32 teams to vote in favor of the change.

Here’s the full breakdown of the nine rule change proposals relating to the use of replay:

  • 6. By competition committee; to amend Rule 15, Section 2 for one year only to expand the reviewable plays in instant replay to include fouls for pass interference; also expands automatic replay reviews to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul, and any try attempt (extra point or two-point conversion).
  • 6a. By competition committee; to amend Rule 15, Section 2 for one year only to expand the reviewable plays in instant replay to include all fouls for pass interference, roughing the passer, and unnecessary contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture; also expands automatic replay reviews to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul, and any try attempt (extra point or two-point conversion).
  • 9. By Washington; to amend Rule 15, Section 2 to subject all plays that occur during a game to coaches’ challenge by teams or review by the officiating department in the instant replay system.
  • 10. By Washington; to amend Rule 15, Section 2, Article 5 to add review of personal fouls as reviewable plays in the instant replay system.
  • 11. By Kansas City; to amend Rule 15, Section 2, to add review of personal fouls (called or not called on the field) as plays subject to coaches’ challenge in the instant replay system.
  • 12. By Carolina, Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia and Seattle; to amend Rule 15, Section 2, to add review of designated player safety-related fouls (called or not called on the field) as plays subject to coaches’ challenge in the instant replay system.
  • 13. By Philadelphia; to amend Rule 15, Section 2, to add scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul to be subject to automatic review in the instant replay system.
  • 14. By Denver; to amend Rule 15, Section 2, to add all fourth down plays that are spotted short of the line to gain or goal line to be subject to automatic review in the instant replay system.
  • 15. By Denver; to amend Rule 15, Section 2, to add all try attempts (extra point or two-point conversion) to be subject to automatic review in the instant replay system.

A number of factors have to be accounted for when debating the use of replay, the main reason as to why it’s been something discussed at the length it has over the years.

As the rule states now, teams are not allowed to challenge offensive or defensive pass interference called on the field. The competition committee’s two proposals would allow a head coach to use one of his two challenges on pass interference, roughing the passer and hits against a defenseless receiver penalty.

The thought process behind the potential rule change stems from in-depth research on the most impactful plays of the 2018 season.

“Our thought was [when] we went and looked at the statistics and [they] say the 50 most impactful plays [where] there is a flag on the field [were] defensive pass interference,” McKay said. “We use that to say replay is designed to deal with big plays, why wouldn’t we start with defensive pass interference? That’s how we got to our proposals.”

A number of factors have to be accounted for when debating the use of replay, the main reason as to why it’s been something discussed at the length it has over the years.

For instance, one of the main areas the competition committee has worked hard to improve is shortening the length of games. The time of the NFL game is now down to three hours and four minutes, a four-minute decrease from 2008. If replay is used more, more stoppage time will have to be accounted for.

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