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Report: NFL to consider ability for coaches to challenge judgment calls

NFL: NFC Championship Game-Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

It’s pretty telling that we are four days away from Super Bowl 53 and yet one of the prevailing topics of discussion continues to be the pass interference no-call on Los Angeles Rams DB Nickell Robey Coleman, who illegally crushed New Orleans Saints WR Tommy Lee Lewis without penalty on what would’ve been a drive-extending, clock-killing third down play in the NFC Championship Game. Had it been called, the Saints would’ve almost certainly been able to run the clock down to a handful of seconds and kick the game-winning field goal*. Instead, they kicked with plenty of time remaining for the Rams to tie the game at the end of regulation, win it outright in overtime, and make their way to the Super Bowl.

*- It is also possible Sean Payton would’ve called some stupid gadget play with Taysom Hill that would’ve gifted the Rams the ball back anyway.

There have been loud cries to make penalties such as pass interference reviewable. PI can actually be challenged in the Canadian Football League, as seen in this video involving former New Orleans Saints DB Delvin Breaux.

Well according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, don’t be surprised if during the offseason we do see coaches granted the capability of challenging “judgment calls.” However, the consequences for a lost “judgment” call challenge would be different than your standard coaches’ challenge.

As a possible solution to avoid the type of missed call that occurred in the NFC Championship Game, the NFL is expected to consider a plan that would allow limited coaches’ challenges for incorrect judgment calls that also could include a penalty or time run off if the coach is wrong, per a league source.

It is a proposal designed to get those against allowing coaches’ challenges of officials’ judgment calls more supportive of the potential rule change. By creating a disincentive or penalty to even question a judgment call, it would be used rarely and wouldn’t be abused -- at least that’s the hope.

This is all still very vague and does raise some valid questions. How far does “judgment call” go? Will it include more than just pass interference? Would coaches be able to challenge offensive holding? What about a blatant false start?

Or this roughing the passer? (On a play that incidentally had an arguable uncalled DPI!)

What about this illegal block downfield?

I guess we’ll know more when the time comes, but obviously the Robey-Coleman no-call appears to be a major catalyst for potentially fiddling with the challenge system.