New replay command center won’t overdo overturns

Jets quarterback Geno Smith was ruled down before fumbling on this play, and that call stood.

Bill Kostroun/AP

Stand and deliver.

That’s the early word so far on the NFL’s new state-of-the-art officiating command center in New York getting involved with replay this season. 

NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino has the philosophy that unless there is indisputable visual evidence to overturn a call on the field that calls are not going to be overturned. 

Three plays really stood out to me in the early games — two in the Redskins-Texans game and another in the Jets-Raiders game — that all remained as called on the field. 

Let’s first look at two plays in the Washington-Houston game: 

The first play took place in the first quarter, on a 36-yard pass attempt from Robert Griffin III to Andre Ross. Ross made a catch along the sideline that was ruled incomplete, with the officials ruling that his toe was out of bounds. I looked at it, and it was really close, but close is not enough. 

The other play took place in the second quarter on an Alfred Morris running play. 

Washington had the ball on the Houston 22-yard line with 6:42 left before the half. There was no score. Morris took the ball and ran 20 yards to the 2-yard line and was tackled by Johnathan Joseph. The ball came loose, and Joseph clearly recovered it. However, Morris was ruled down. Again, the replays were inconclusive in regard to when Morris’ shin hit the ground and when the ball came loose. The call stood as ruled. 

Blandino is looking at all of these plays in the command center and is not going to let referees reverse anything unless it’s absolutely conclusive that the call was wrong on the field.

And finally, there was New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith’s fumble at the goal line in the Jets-Raiders game. 

The Jets had the ball, second down and 3 at the Oakland 2-yard line early in the second quarter. Oakland led, 7-3. Smith scrambled around the right side and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Oakland’s Sio Moore. However, it was ruled that Smith’s shin was down and that he still had possession of the ball. 

It was so tight, and there wasn’t the clearest of looks, so, again, the call stood. 

New York is sticking by its philosophy, and this is a good thing and it will lead to consistency. The one thing we’re already seeing is quicker decisions being made and referees back on the field to make the announcement. 

So far, it’s working the way the league wants it to work.