Good Rule. Horrible Execution

Peter King takes a lot of crap because he loves to go out on a limb, but when it comes to actual reporting, few are better.  Today he devotes the first page of his Monday Morning Quarterback column to the officiating controversy and how it will affect the Colts.

I understand and support the rule change. It’s not only a question of safety, but of tactics.  Putting pads and a helmet on the umpire does nothing to keep teams from using the official to run pick plays with wide receivers.  I think we can all agree that simply outlawing such plays would be highly problematic, but they violate the spirit of the rules.

What King does so well is raise the specific questions that dog the implementation of the rule and show how poorly thought out the mechanics of the switch was:

Four: Why is the “false start — snap infringement” penalty even called? Why not simply just do the play over? Johnson said if there was no penalty in place, then there’d be nothing to stop a quarterback from hustling to snap the ball on the edge of the rules. If the passer knew he’d be able to do the play over regardless, then why not try to play hurry-up?


Polian’s view on the infringement penalty is an interesting one. He thinks a game with a slower or older ump trying to keep up with a quick-snapping offense could be significantly affected. “I am dead-set against the penalty,” said Polian. “It is insane. If I knew it would be this way, I’d have voted against it, and not only that, I’d have crusaded against it.’

This is perhaps the worst part of the new rule.  The quarterback is penalized because the official is too slow?  That defies logic.  If the official is not ready, the play should be redone, and the official should be penalized with a poor grade for the game for being incapable of doing his job.  Penalizing the team for the laziness or poor conditioning by the umpire is not defensible.

Almost as incomprehensible as the penalty is the bizarre explanation for it given by Carl Johnson.  Why should there be something stopping the QB from hurrying up?  What sense does that make?  The league should be trying to hurry the game up, not slow it down.  The justification for the penalty lacks any sense of reason.  Once the ball is spotted, it must be deemed ready to play.  Nothing else makes sense.

I don’t think this is a bad rule, but the league clearly did an awful job thinking through the implementation.  This won’t just affect the Colts.  This is going to be an issue during the end of nearly every NFL game.  When the explanation for why umpires are so slow to get in position is that they are “too stocky”, it’s clear that the league has done a sloppy job of implementing a new rule.

Again, I don’t think this HAS to be an issue.  It’s going to require some effort and creativity by the league.

To date, they haven’t put in enough of either.