The NFL playoffs featured some miserable calls this year. I wouldn’t say the officiating in the Superbowl was that bad, but there were a few really close, hotly contested calls that I think exemplify what’s wrong with officiating right now. I think two changes would go a long way:
1) Allow coaches to challenge penalties.
Currently these aren’t reviewable. In the Superbowl there was a pretty light push-off that was flagged as offensive pass interference. I don’t think it would have been overturned, because you can’t push off a guy (even lightly) to get to the ball, but I would like to have seen the coach at least have an opportunity to challenge that call. There are a lot of game-changing penalties that happen throughout the course of the year. Challenging an interference call can be every bit as important as challenging a catch or an interception ruling.
2) Get more cameras in the stadium/on the field.
I’m tired of watching calls, like the Roethlesburger touchdown, that get challenged, reviewed, and there isn’t enough “visual evidence” to decide if they’re right or not (so they stand). Let’s get some more visual evidence! 5 years ago at the Superbowl they used the CMU-developed EyeVision technology, which gave us some pretty amazing perspectives via 30 cameras mounted around the field. What ever happened to that? It’s been 5 years now – I’d imagine it’s even improved, if they wanted to put it to use. I watched Champ Bailey fumble at the 1 yard line against the Patriots in the playoffs, and they couldn’t even tell if he fumbled out of bounds or out the side of the endzone. That’s the difference between 1st-and-goal at the 1 Broncos to 1st down Patriots at the 20… but no visual evidence was there to help out.
I don’t want us to go back to the days when everyone was review-crazy, but I’d sure like to make the reviews more effective. It’s impossible to make all the right calls, so there should be a functional process in place to make sure the wrong calls can get corrected.