NFL rules expert and former VP of officiating Mike Pereira has surely had to batten down the hatches in recent weeks to prevent an onslaught of bleating voices, asking ad nauseam about how making pass interference reviewable would ruin our autumn Sundays.
Luckily for us, though, Pereira took some time to spread the gospel on Thursday morning, one last time before the regular season kicks off next week.
No, he's not thrilled this is a part of the rule book now. But yes, he has the utmost confidence it'll be handled with care, as it has been throughout the preseason by the New York office.
"The beauty of the rule is it's reviewable either way," Pereira told 12up on Thursday. "If it's called, it's reviewable. if it's not, it's reviewable. [The replay office] told the officials, 'Do not officiate the play any differently,' and so far, they're doing a great job of that."
With only Week 4 of the preseason still ahead of us, Pereira doesn't expect anything revelatory to come out of the action that will change the way coaches have strategized. If he were roaming the sidelines, Pereira says he'd lean away from challenging in one specific direction, based on the data we have thus far.
"If I'm a coach, if they call it, I'm not challenging," he said. At this point, using the Saints-Rams NFC Championship Game as inspiration, the rule has been applied far more often to install an uncalled PI, rather than undo a previous judgment. With that in mind, referees have continued to let "bang-bang" plays go uncalled, now that the option to head to the replay center exists.
Per Pereira, only six reversals of any kind have occurred thus far.
Just because he believes the new rule will be applied with very little on-field lag and controversy doesn't mean he approves of its existence, however.
" I didn't like this rule," Pereira stated. "Quite frankly, the only thing I like is that it's a one-year experiment. I worry about replay involving this much judgment. But I do understand what happened at the end of [the NFC Championship], and I do understand that Sean Payton's on the competition committee."
Though he expected action of some sort, Pereira had an alternate pitch. "I would've preferred something in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter only," he told us, "and maybe take the responsibility away from the coach and give it to a sky judge. But that being said, it's here. And now that it's here, the question is how will it be applied by the replay center in New York."
Potentially the strangest remaining gray area here is surrounding Hail Marys -- for generations, jostling, bumping, and banging bodies has largely been excused, in the name of late-game nonsense. But now that they're reviewable, too, doesn't it feel like a matter of time until someone everyone hates (Bill Belichick) wins a game-changing review on something that's been an accepted part of the game for generations?
According to Pereira, you're not going to see any major overreaction or alteration there, either.
"The standard for pass interference is [still] different--strongest guy wins, so you allow pushes," Pereira said. "No tackles, but if you're getting into position to make a play on the ball, that standard is going to remain the same. [What gets legislated out] is going to have to be the more unusual act -- tackles, taking an opponent to the ground, a la the Seattle-Green Bay replacement officials game."
So, no one's judgment is going to get warped here?
"You know what they say about porn? You know it when you see it. It's the same with a Hail Mary," Pereira concluded.
As always, we trust his word.