Football Zebras™

Media tape: Blandino says foul on punter should be 15 yards

Vice president of officiating Dean Blandino released his weekly media tape last Friday (download), so I wanted to backtrack to highlight the key points because there were many unusual scenarios on the video. Blandino, for one, clarified an officiating mechanic on blocked punts that closes an enforcement gap reported last week. I am going to take these out of order, but these are the items under discussion in the video:

  • Regarding the hit on punter Colts Pat McAfee which was not called because referee Bill Vinovich thought the ball was tipped:
    • I previously stated that this was a clear 5-yard penalty, because Texans linebacker Bryan Braman contacted the kicking foot and there was not any unnecessary contact that is not part of a standard punt block. Blandino feels there was enough to call roughing the kicker, and thus a 15-yard penalty.
    • We discussed how it would seem to be out of the replay protocol for a running into/roughing the kicker foul to be called out of replay. However, the way it is to be handled makes much more sense: the referee will state on the microphone that the running into/roughing foul is not called due to a tipped ball. Then the replay official or coach (as appropriate) can challenge the tipped ball. By overturning the announcement of a tipped ball, this gives the ability to call the penalty that was initially picked up.
  • There is an illustration of the umpire’s signal when the kicking team shifts its formation. This indicates to the defense and the other officials that prohibitions on hits to the center are no longer in effect.
  • A horse-collar tackle can be called on a maneuver that does not bring a player to the ground. If the runner’s knees bend as a result of the defender’s grab and pull in the defined area, it is still counted as a horse-collar tackle.
  • A player who goes out of bounds and is the first to touch the pass is considered to have illegally touched the ball. However, if that player is out of bounds or hasn’t re-established himself in the field of play, it is incomplete.
  • Any player in the offensive backfield can shuffle laterally and not be called for a false start as long as the action is not abrupt or simulates the snap.
  • A quarterback who is under center, and then goes in motion as part of a wildcat play must reset for at least one second. The example shown in from a Jets game where quarterback Geno Smith is assessed an illegal shift penalty