The NFL is going out of its way to maker sure it isn’t hit with any high-profile officiating mistakes in the playoffs. Already mired in a slew of questionable game outcomes that have coaches, players and fans seething nearly very Sunday, the league announced this past Wednesday that beginning this postseason, there will be a slight adjustment to officiating procedures.
Under the new policy, which was recommended by the Competition Committee and approved by Roger Goodell, officials will be permitted to have more contact with NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino, who’s located in New York, during games.
Previously, Blandino only communicated with game officials while they reviewed instant replay challenges, but starting next month, that will change.
Once the postseason kicks off, officials will be able to consult with Blandino on several things, including: the appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, the proper administration of the game clock and the correct down.
Officials will also be able to consult with Blandino on a few other administrative matters that aren’t currently reviewable. The minor change in procedure won’t give Blandino full officiating power in any game though.
Blandino’s new role “will not include the ability to call or change a foul, or otherwise become involved in on-field judgment calls that are not subject to the current instant replay system,” the league’s statement said.
The NFL’s thinking here is that the change will make its officials more efficient. As reported to CBS Sports Online,
“The 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,” Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay said. “The officials do a very difficult job exceedingly well, and we think this adjustment in the playoffs will make them even better.”
It seems to us that this more of a PR spin than anything else. Including Blandino in certain aspects of the game, but not giving him authority to overrule calls that may be in question seems like a very useless exercise in bringing him in when he may be needed most. Just consulting with him on non-reviewable plays seems like something the crew chief should be doing regularly before the game anyway. We’ll see how this goes over real soon.