Jeff Duncan: Replay review is anything but ‘clear and obvious’

Jeff Duncan: Replay review is anything but ‘clear and obvious’
Saints host the Panthers Nov. 24, 2019 (Source: J.Intintoli)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Clear and obvious are the buzzwords of this NFL season.

In case you missed it, the league has told its replay officials to not overturn calls on the field unless there is “clear and obvious” video evidence to support a change.

Of course, that’s easier said than done when it comes to subjective calls like pass interference.

Jeff Duncan: Replay review is anything but ‘clear and obvious’

Now 12 weeks into the year, it’s become quite clear and quite obvious that this new replay system is a complete and utter disaster. The process is so flawed, the rulings so arbitrary, no one knows what to expect from week to week, game to game, or even call to call.

The Saints’ 34-31 win against the Panthers on Sunday was the latest example of NFL Officiating Gone Wild. What otherwise was an exciting, hard-fought game between division rivals was marred by 15 penalties and four controversial decisions on replay challenges.

In the end, the Saints overcame the zebras and the pesky Panthers to win for the ninth time in 11 games. But afterward it was the officiating that dominated the discussion, and that’s never a good thing for the league or its players and coaches.

When Sean Payton spearheaded the rules change in March everyone championed the idea. Anything to avoid another officiating gaffe like the infamous NOLA No-Call that robbed the Saints of a Super Bowl berth in January.

But in practice, the NFL has made a bad situation even worse because of the arbitrary way the rule is being enforced.

The frustration Saints players and coaches expressed after Sunday’s game was understandable. Officials should not have this kind of impact on the outcome of games. They are supporting actors, not lead actors, in the league’s Sunday passion plays.

Meantime, the NFL needs to take a hard look at its replay protocols again this offseason and either fix them, or do away with them altogether.

Because the current system isn’t working for anyone. That much … is clear and obvious.

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