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NFL head of officiating doesn't think catch rule needs overhaul

The NFL's controversial catch rule has drawn criticism, but Dean Blandino doesn't think it needs big changes.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL's rule to determine a catch drew plenty of controversy in 2015, but the league's head of officiating doesn't think it needs much changing.

Dean Blandino, the NFL's vice president of officiating, said on Sunday that he believes the rule is fine as is, and that he doesn't expect any major changes in the offseason. On the sideline at the Pro Bowl, Blandino said that catches will always be subjective and that controversy will exist, regardless of the rule.

"We think that the rule is in a good place right now," Blandino told NFL Network's Steve Wyche. "I really feel it's just communicating the rule and educating and showing video examples of what is and what isn't a catch. There's a subjective element to the rule, so there's always going to be those plays where we debate that subjective element. That's just part of it."

The NFL's Competition Committee will discuss potential rule changes during league meetings in Boca Raton, Fla. in March, and Blandino does believe that the catch rule will be the topic of discussion, even if he thinks it's strong as is.

"I think it's going to be something we continue to look at," Blandino said. "Maybe there's another tweak that maybe we can make in the rule to make it easier to understand. But I don't anticipate any major changes."

Controversial rulings from officials regarding receptions happened on a seemingly weekly basis during the 2015 season. In a talk with SB Nation's Cyd Zeigler, Blandino defended the rule and said it allows for easy decisions on the vast majority of catches and drops with only a handful of subjective plays drawing the spotlight.

One of the plays that drew the most attention was a pass to Dez Bryant in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last year that was originally ruled a catch, but overturned after a review. On Sunday, Bryant told Will Brinson of CBS Sports that the rule is one he thinks should be changed.

"A catch is catching the ball and taking two steps and falling to the ground. A non-catch is completely dropping the ball," Bryant said. "The NFL --€” the NFL officials --” can confuse some players and fans with what a catch is. I'll leave it at that. Hopefully they fix it one day."

But if it's up to Blandino, Bryant's hope that the league fixes the rule isn't something that happens during the 2016 offseason.