Mosley: Caldwell is right that PI calls should be reviewable

The most docile head coach in the NFL has suddenly come out of his shell. Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell, a man who always has a resting heart rate, is still steamed about the pass interference flag that was picked up by Pete Morelli’s officiating crew in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s wildcard playoff game. Caldwell has every right to be upset about the call, although he also contributed heavily to the Lions’ 24-20 loss with his baffling decision to punt on fourth-and-1 after throwing the ball downfield on the previous play. When a team takes a shot downfield on third-and-1 from midfield it’s generally a tip off that it intends to go for it on fourth down. Caldwell chose a much more conservative approach, and it resulted in a shanked punt that traveled 10 yards. The Cowboys capitalized with a game-winning drive fueled by a fourth-and-6 conversion near midfield. 

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has become more daring because he believes in his team. It’s hard to know what Caldwell believes in after watching him Sunday. But in the aftermath, he’s doing a nice job of deflecting blame. He’s taken the path of least resistance in embracing this national narrative that the Lions were done in by a blown call. Of course, his team had more than two minutes to drive for a game-winning touchdown at the end of the game. And it’s not like getting the pass interference call guaranteed a touchdown. This offense hadn’t put it in the end zone since the 1:57 mark in the first quarter. This is a classic misdirection play by a head coach who’s being allowed to skate on his shaky decision-making.

But in regards to his take on pass interference needing to be reviewable, Caldwell has a point. Officials are asked to make judgment calls in the heat of the moment with no safety net. Surely there’s a way to take a longer look at fouls that can result in 50 yards of field position.

"I do think, in this day and age, modern times where we have technology that can take out the human factor in certain key situations, in big games, that we should use that technology to do so," Caldwell told reporters Monday. "Kind of set the record straight and take the human error out of it.

"So perhaps, from this endeavor, we’ll find a way to maybe improve that portion of the game."

The NFL’s director of officiating Dean Blandino, a man once seen de-boarding the Cowboys’ luxury bus in Los Angeles, said Monday that defensive holding should’ve been called on the Cowboys. That’s little consolation for the Lions at this point, but maybe it does nudge the league toward taking a look at whether pass interference penalties should become reviewable.

None other than Bill Belichick has been a vocal supporter of this in recent years. The one area I disagree with Caldwell is that a change should only be made to the postseason. One of the reasons the NFL is the most popular league in America is because every week feels like a big deal to fans. If you’re going to implement important rule changes, it needs to happen during the regular-season. I understand the NFL worries about the length of games because of its TV windows, but the replay process has become very efficient over the years. I don’t think reviewing pass interference calls would add that much time to games. And it would add another layer to the challenge strategies for head coaches.

So bully for Caldwell. He’s been able to escape a lot of criticism while actually raising an important point. 


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