The NFL released a statement today saying all NFL teams have been notified that the NFL is allowing a limited adjustment to officiating procedures for the 2015 playoffs. This comes after heavy criticism all season and in the playoffs last year regarding officiating decisions.
The rule change is being made only for this season's playoffs and permits communication between the game referee and the NFL Vice President of Officiating, Dean Blandino. The refs will be able to communicate with Blandino from the league's New York office, regarding the correct application of rules in specific situations not currently covered by the instant replay rule.
"In addition to the VP of Officiating's current role in Instant Replay, this consultation will only include the appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, the proper administration of the game clock, the correct down, or any other administrative matter not currently reviewable," the NFL's release states.
Blandino will not have a say in or the ability to call or change a foul, or otherwise become involved in on-field judgment call that is not subject to the current Instant Replay system.
"The (competition) committee feels strongly that giving the referee and Dean the ability to consult with each other in certain situations beyond instant replay will further support officiating in the playoffs," said NFL Competition Committee Chairman Rich McKay. "The officials do a very difficult job exceedingly well, and we think this adjustment in the playoffs will make them even better."
Communication on administrative matters can be initiated either by Blandino or the referee in all playoff games this postseason. Commissioner Roger Goodell mentioned the possibility of this occurring with NFL owners at the December league meeting in Dallas.
"We constantly strive to make our game progressively better for the players, coaches and fans," said NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent. "This change will assist our officials with an additional resource for clarity and consistency in game administration."