Justifying reversal of TD call on Bears pass to Zach Miller makes NFL big loser


Justifying reversal of TD call on Bears pass to Zach Miller makes NFL big loser

The Bears lost a touchdown and possibly a game because of it to the New Orleans Saints last Sunday when a touchdown call on a pass to Zach Miller was reversed on replay review. Then the decision was upheld by the NFL’s head of officiating this week with an explanation that cast doubt on the efficacy of replay as well as the rules involved in using it.

In the process, the NFL lost something more than the Bears did on the call, although Miller’s loss with the concurrent gruesome leg injury eclipsed just about every aspect of the incident. What the NFL lost was another small modicum of credibility at a time when the shield cannot afford any more smudges than it already is getting in the public’s mind.

By now the circumstances are well known: Miller appears to haul in a Mitch Trubisky throw in the Saints end zone. The initial call by the officiating crew of Carl Cheffers is “touchdown,” which is automatically reviewed by a crew using a phalanx of views from different camera angles.  

The call was reversed, inexplicably to myriad expert observers who underscored the standard that evidence must be clear and obvious for the call on the field to be overturned. Then that decision was reiterated by head of NFL officiating Alberto Riveron.

That last step is where the credibility cracks begin to appear.

Because Riveron used a 50-second video to show and explain what he maintained were shots of Miller not maintaining control of the football all the way to the ground. The shots simply do not conclusively show that at all.

This ultimately is not exactly another head-scratching incident involving the notorious “catch rule.” This gets closer to an issue of integrity, having enough of that character trait to acknowledge a mistake. That wasn’t evident on the video, either.

What Riveron and whoever else is part of his “crew” did was to overrule not only the touchdown call, but also the long-standing “clear and obvious” standard that a call is only reversed when the mistake is obvious. Then to point to a camera shot and declare that it justified the reversal is something else altogether.

The easy overarching call is that the replay system needs attention and some sort of fix. No. This situation is one of human error, and that is a problem no camera angle is going to fix.

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?


With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

The Bears placed Leonard Floyd on injured reserve Thursday morning, ending the second-year outside linebacker’s season following a knee injury suffered Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Floyd suffered an MCL and PCL injury and will have surgery in the next week, coach John Fox said, and the Bears do not have a timetable for his recovery yet. But that Floyd didn't suffer damage to his ACL is potentially good news for Floyd's recovery timetable. 

Still, with Floyd on injured reserve and out for the season, the Bears’ current outside linebacker depth chart consists of two veterans (Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho) and two practice squad signees (Isaiah Irving and Howard Jones). These final six games of the 2017 season could serve as auditions for all four players for roles on the 2018 Bears. 

If every team needs at least three good pass rushers, the Bears can count on Akiem Hicks and Floyd for 2018, provided Floyd comes back healthy. But who’s the third?

The Bears could save about $7.5 million in cap space if they release McPhee in 2018; if they were to cut ties with Willie Young, who’s on injured reserve right now as well, it would provide $4.5 million in cap relief. McPhee will be 29 in December, while Young will turn 33 next September. 

The Bears won’t necessarily need the cap relief next year, and could certainly decide to keep both players, who’ve shown they’re still productive when healthy. But even if both players are back, the Bears may need to add another outside linebacker via free agency of the draft — remember, the team could’ve began the season with Floyd, Young, McPhee, Acho and Lamarr Houston as their outside linebackers; an injury Houston suffered in the fourth preseason game ended his time in Chicago. 

Needs at wide receiver and cornerback are pressing, but outside linebacker may need to be in that same conversation. If the Bears have a top-10 pick for the fourth consecutive year, plus some cap space, they perhaps could have the ability to address all three needs in March and April. 

That may be looking a little too far into the future, though. The best-case for the Bears is McPhee finishes the season strong and Irving and/or Jones shows something in the opportunities they receive in these final six games (Jones, for what it’s worth, had five sacks as a rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015). But the worst-case — and perhaps the most realistic — is that the Bears go into the offseason needing to fill at least one pass-rushing spot. 

Under Center Podcast: Can Mitch Trubisky follow Carson Wentz’s path to stardom?


Under Center Podcast: Can Mitch Trubisky follow Carson Wentz’s path to stardom?

JJ Stankevitz and John “Moon” Mullin are joined by NBC Sports Philadelphia Eagles reporter Dave Zangaro to offer an encouraging connection between Carson Wentz’s growth and that of Mitchell Trubisky.

Check out the entire podcast here: