Pass interference as a spot foul in the NFL can be infuriating. All too often, only borderline-catchable deep throws result in huge offensive gains as a result of nothing more than a little bit of seemingly incidental contact down field. And when that happens, fans of the victimized team feel slighted while those supporting the benefactor feel a tad awkward and lucky.
None of it feels right.
Other leagues have already addressed that, with the CFL recently making pass interference a reviewable call and the NCAA docking pass interfering teams 15 yards regardless of how far down field the foul was committed.
And now it looks as though the NFL is finally considering making the penalty less punitive on home-run attempts.
NFL competition committee is discussing the possibility of limiting defensive pass interference penalties to, at most, 15 yards.
— MarkMaske (@MarkMaske) February 27, 2018
Now, the obvious potential problem is that this could in theory lead to defenders essentially tackling receivers when they’ve been beaten deep. But that doesn’t happen often in college football, and let’s not pretend that a 15-yard penalty and a fresh set of downs for the offense is ever a good scenario.
The reality is pass interference always beat the alternative (a touchdown) even as a spot foul, and defensive backs rarely hauled receivers down in the end zone in order to prevent opponents from scoring.
This would, however, inevitably lead to less offensive production, which is counter to everything the NFL typically pursues these days. And that might explain why Newsday‘s Bob Glauber has been told it’s “very doubtful” the 15-yard DPI is adopted by the league.
Being told it’s “very doubtful” that NFL would adopt 15-yard pass interference penalty to replace current spot foul penalty.
— Bob Glauber (@BobGlauber) February 27, 2018
That’s a shame, because while the 15-yard system isn’t perfect and a tiered system with different penalties depending on the severity of the infraction would only put more pressure on overburdened officials and add more words to a War and Peace-sized rulebook, it is rather ridiculous that an offense gets credit for a completion just because a foul was committed on a play that did not result in a catch.
You’re going to get some bad breaks one way or the other, but I’d imagine there’ll be fewer of them with the 15-yard rule than there are now with pass interference being enforced as a spot foul.