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NFL competition committee expected to propose plan to challenge judgement calls

Imagine if the Bengals were in the Saints’ shoes.

NFC Championship - Los Angeles Rams v New Orleans Saints Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The NFL is a reactionary business more than it is a progressive one. When a dilemma arises to the point where it reaches the league office and grabs the attention of commissioner Roger Goodell, something is usually done about it.

When cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman of the Los Angeles Rams launched himself midair into wide receiver Tommylee Lewis of the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship and did not get flagged for it, shockwaves were felt all around the NFL landscape. How could an NFL official and his crew miss a blatant flag like that? Calls for reform became the hottest topic of discussion over the last week and a half, and the NFL has apparently heard them loud and clear.

ESPN insider Adam Schefter has reported that the league will consider an avenue that would allow coaches a chance to challenge missed calls this offseason when the competition committee meets in the spring.

As a possible solution to avoid the type of missed call from the NFC Championship Game, the NFL is expected to consider a plan that would allow limited coaches’ challenges for incorrect judgment calls that also could include a penalty or time run off if the coach is wrong, per a league source.

In the CFL, coaches can challenge missed pass interference calls, as it works like any other challenge. If the call doesn’t get overturned, the coach loses a timeout. Under the NFL’s expected proposal, the consequences span larger than a lost timeout, being it penalty yardage or time running off the clock for time spent reviewing the challenge. This proposal is expected to represent a compromise for those who aren’t in favor of adopting a CFL-like rule.

It is a proposal designed to get those against allowed coaches’ challenges of officials’ judgment calls more supportive of the potential rule change. By creating a disincentive or penalty to even question a judgment call, the argument will be that it will be used rarely and won’t be abused.

Honestly, this seems like the best course of action. The obvious solution would be for the officials to just make the correct call, but when a missed call clearly prohibits one team from going to the Super Bowl, added measures need to be considered. This proposal would not allow coaches unlimited challenges and added consequences of getting the challenge wrong would provide needed balance.

Last year, the league focused on figuring out what a catch was. We’ll see if they figure out what pass interference is next.