Aside from the NFL's widely unpopular new kickoff rule, there is another change to the league's rule book that isn't getting quite as much publicity: the new toudchown review rule. In a nutshell, the new rule dictates that there will be an automatic review of any scoring play that occurs on the field. This has the added bonus of allowing coaches to save their challenges on such plays.
The Eagles have already seen this new rule work in their favor during their first preseason game against the Ravens. Early in the third quarter, Mike Kafka was sacked by Pernell McPhee and appeared to have surrendered a fumble to the Ravens defense. However, after Lardarius Webb returned the ball 93 yards for a called touchdown, the play was reviewed and the officials determined that Kafka's fumble was, in fact, an incomplete pass, invalidating the touchdown.
At first glance, this new touchdown rule may seem like a godsend to teams who have frequently suffered at the hands of scoring plays that were too close to call. However, after tuning in to Ross Tucker's interview with former NFL Head of Officiating Mike Pereira on SiriusXM this morning, I'm beginning to think that the rule might need some tweaking.
In the interview, Pereira made a very good point that the rule only works one way. Reviews occur automatically only for plays in which a touchdown is called. While this may not seem like a big deal, since coaches still have the ability to challenge plays they believe to be touchdowns, it might be the start of a disturbing trend.
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Let me be clear: I'm not trying to make mountains out of molehills, but this new rule has the potential to lead to fewer scores each game. Since, as Pereira pointed out, it can only serve to invalidate a score, the only thing the new touchdown review rule does is eliminate any human error on one side of the ball. Oh, and don't think that the officials will compensate for the new rule by calling more touchdowns and then leaving the decision up to the replay assistants. Pereira answered that question by pointing out that there is no way that the NFL officiating office would instruct their officials to utilize anything other than their instincts, which is as it should be.
Besides the Eagles-Ravens matchup, the new rule has altered the outcome of a game twice so far this preseason. The first negated touchdown occurred during the Rams' battle against the Colts, when A.J. Feeley's pass to Danario Alexander was ruled an incompletion. The second instance stole away a touchdown from Texans' QB T.J. Yates after the replay assistant ruled that receiver Lestar Jean did not break the plane.
Personally, I think that if the NFL is going to leave the scoring decisions up to the replay assistants, then they should go all-in. Either review both scoring plays and non-scoring plays or simply allow for human error and go back to the old system of using coaches' challenges only. What do you think?