The NFL can't seem to find a catch rule that is both easy to understand and to objectively apply. It has seemingly given up trying to find that balance, too.
Dean Blandino, the league's officiating executive, isn't pushing to update the rule to make it more comprehensible. His strategy is to instead convince you that it's fine, as is. And while it isn't nearly as inconsistently applied as fans believe it is, there's no doubt that it is confusing.
At the owner's meetings this week, Blandino held presentations in front of coaches and media to explain the rule in detail, but that didn't seem to accomplish much.
A room full of career NFL reporters is thoroughly confused by the catch rule ... still.— ryan van bibber (@justRVB) March 21, 2016
There's an easy solution, though. Just call a catch a damn catch.
Everyone who has ever passed a football with friends knows what it means to make a catch. Hell, even Baylor's Taurean Prince gave a pretty good explanation of what it means to catch a basketball.
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman thinks former NFL pass catchers could come up with a "more straightforward and to the point" definition than the current rule created by "a bunch of suits."
But the NFL isn't unaware of what a catch is. Blandino said on Monday that the concept of "control, two feet, plus time" was added to the rulebook in 1938. The sticking point has always been what the "plus time" part constitutes.
So take it out.
I'm not the first to suggest this, either. Former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira tweeted in November about the idea of making only two standards for a catch: Have control and have two feet down. His problem with it, though? "Lots of fumbles would result."
NOOOO, NOT FUMBLES!
First of all, "lots" is an exaggeration. There were plenty of examples of the catch rule coming into play in 2015, but never more than two or three examples per week, if there were any at all. If one extra fumble in every five to 10 games or so provides clarity, that seems like a plenty worthwhile sacrifice.
And second, what's so bad about fumbles anyway?
On this play, Arizona Cardinals tight end Darren Fells catches and controls a pass with two feet on the ground, before it is knocked out and recovered by the Seattle Seahawks. It wasn't ruled a fumble though, because he wasn't "established as a runner" ... whatever that means.
Remove the requirements to become a runner. No football move necessary and no "completing the catch" required. Just catch the ball and get your feet down and it's a catch. If that means there are a few more fumbles then so be it ... at least there won't be as many replay reviews.