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NFL to consider making roughing the passer subject to replay review

Kirk Cousins left something to be desired last year, but with Minnesota in 'saving jobs' mode, he might be their best available option -- for better or worse.

Good news: Roughing the pass could become subject to replay review.

Bad news: Roughing the pass could become subject to replay review.

According to Judy Battista of NFL Media, owners could vote to make roughing the passer subject to replay review. On one hand, it’s necessary. On the other hand, pass interference calls and non-calls were subject to replay review for a year, and it was a disaster.

Given the way the rules are written, the replay process would entail scanning on a frame-by-frame basis any and all available angles for any and all potential instances of roughing based on broad, literal application of the rule. It would become, from a coach’s challenge perspective, a potential emergency option to extend a key drive. And for every interception, which makes the replay process automatic, part of the second look will entail checking to see whether any potential roughing the passer happened.

In support of the possibility of making roughing the passer subject to review, the item at points to a horrendous roughing call that helped the Vikings beat the Lions in a Week 17 game to which no one paid any attention. Without replay review, the seemingly phantom call could not be reverse.

Still, while it’s a good idea in theory, the league potentially would be stepping on another rake given the manner in which the rule would be applied. It also could result in the same kind of shifting standard for what does and doesn’t result in a reversal of a ruling on the field, in the same way the bar for interference seemed to move up and down in 2019.

So what’s the best way to prevent a truly egregious blunder? Sky judge. That’s the answer. Specifically, the NFL should add an extra member of the officiating crew who sits in a booth and watches all available angles and communicates with the referee, the same as any on-field official. That’s the way to properly allow for a truly obvious blunder to be quickly fixed, without relying on a replay process that tends to excessively micromanage and overofficiate and, ultimately, render rulings on judgment-type calls with all the reliability of a Magic 8 Ball.