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Spike in defensive pass interference fouls doesn’t justify changing the rule

The old catch rule gave officials "a bright line" to determine a catch, while the new rule will instead make it easier for replay officials to determine a catch.

Although the Competition Committee doesn’t support changing defensive pass interference from a spot foul to a 15-yard infraction, momentum exists for changing the rule anyway, supposedly.

Here’s where the supposed momentum potentially comes from: As noted by Mike Reiss of, Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay said that last year’s defensive pass interference calls spiked from a 15-year average of 234 to 303.

That’s fine, but an uptick in defensive pass interference doesn’t justify making the foul result in less field position; that would serve only to create an incentive to commit more defensive pass interference penalties. Which would result in not fewer but (wait for it) more defensive pass interference penalties.

There are plenty of potential reasons for an increase in defensive pass interference penalties. Maybe the officials aren’t calling the foul properly. Maybe coaches aren’t properly teaching technique to defensive players. Regardless, the current consequence for committing pass interference by a defensive player logically can’t be resulting in more pass interference penalties, since that should be a deterrent and not an incentive.

Without knowing the cause(s) of an increase in the occurrence of defensive pass interference, there’s no reason to change the rule. And with no specific incident or embarrassment (like the catch rule) or safety-related reason (like making the 25-yard touchback rule permanent) for making a change, why should a change be even considered?

The fact that the discussion is even happening will make fans and media more sensitive to an issue that shouldn’t really be an issue, resulting in criticism during the season of something that really hasn’t been criticized. Yes, fans and/or media criticize bad pass interference calls or non-calls, but no one criticizes the yardage attached to the foul.

Moving forward, there’s a good chance plenty will. And maybe that’s what the proponents of the change want. The best way to turn some momentum into enough momentum will be to get more and more people agitating for change. And sometimes the best way to get people to agitate for change is to flag the issue publicly and let nature take its course.