News

At halfway point, replay reversals soar, coaches’ challenges floored, rookie coaches even more

http://gty.im/861521680 2018 replay statistics through Week 8 Reviews initiated by the replay official were fairly high last season, peaking at 43.7 percent, when the four previous seasons were less than 40. Through eight weeks of this season, the replay booth is in uncharted territory -- over 50 percent -- which might be a signal that replay is confirming more calls under its exclusive jurisdiction without having a formal review or that the replay officials are exercising more discretion in when a call is reviewed. (In at least one case, the replay command center initiated a review for an ejection, under new procedures

Now that it happened, what’s next? How the league and the officials go forward from Cruz firing

http://gty.im/900104970 To say that the unprecedented move by the NFL to fire down judge Hugo Cruz has sent shock waves through the sport seems to understate the impact. When Cruz was fired this week, which came to light on Thursday in a Football Zebras exclusive, it was the first time in the Super Bowl era that the NFL fired an official midseason, rather than waiting for the offseason. Prior to that, there are references to the AFL's nascent years of an immediate termination being made, but these have taken on an air of an urban legend and haven't been confirmed. Suffice

2018 rule changes

The replay timing rule change that’s not in the rulebook

In the process of updating the rulebook, there are the major rule changes approved by the owners and additional language updates to other parts of the rules related to those changes. Occasionally, there are other wording changes that clear up an ambiguity or use different language that better describes the current enforcement of the rule. Very infrequently, there will be other changes in the rules that are minor, but still substantive, without owner approval. This rule change, however, is in a category never seen before. It is a rule change that doesn't even appear in the rulebook, and it could affect

Mechanics

Most officials don’t watch the ball during a play

If you want to watch, buy a ticket. -- back judge Stan Javie to rookie official Jerry Bergman Sr., in 1966.   You might be surprised how little time NFL officials spend watching the ball during a play. When the offense snaps the ball, where do non-officials' eyes go? The camera, announcers and most fans follow the ball. But, for almost every official on the field, they cannot watch the ball. Bergman learned that lesson in his first preseason game. According to a story he told in the book, The Third Team, Bergman says he saw the Bears returner Gayle Sayers break off a

Does the offense get a delay of game fudge factor?

Several times a season, we get fans asking us about delay of game. The play clock on the TV screen hits :00, and an instant later the quarterback snaps the ball. It certainly looks like the offense is guilty of delay of game, but there is no flag. Why? Officiating mechanics build in a fraction of a second's grace for the offense to get the play off. The back judge is responsible for the play clock. He or she makes sure the clock runs properly and is solely responsible for ruling on delay of game. In every stadium, there are two play clocks,

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