Re­ver­sal rate on coaches chal­lenges down from ’17

The Buffalo News - - NFL -

and also the fi­nal call on the field and as well, as whether it is re­view­able or not,” Mc­Der­mott said of the Tan­nehill sack. “So when I got the in­for­ma­tion on those two, felt that we had the po­ten­tial to get points. … I felt good about the chance to chal­lenge. The cost-ben­e­fit, you have to weigh that as well. There’s a lot that went into it. Ob­vi­ously, we can do a bet­ter job there, too.”

Aside from rookie head coaches Mike Vra­bel of Ten­nessee and Steve Wilks of Ari­zona (0 for 5 and 0 for 1, re­spec­tively), Mc­Der­mott has the low­est chal­lenge per­cent­age in the NFL. How­ever, Pitts­burgh’s Mike Tom­lin is 0 for 8 the past two years and also has lost nine straight, dat­ing to 2016.

NFL coaches suc­ceeded in get­ting a re­ver­sal of a call on 47.3 per­cent of their chal­lenges in 2017. So far this year, the re­ver­sal rate on coaches chal­lenges is down to 38.5 per­cent (47 of 122), ac­cord­ing to Pro Foot­ball Ref­er­ence.

On only one of the chal­lenges did Mc­Der­mott clearly get robbed. That was in the Week 3 win at Min­nesota. A shovel pass from Josh Allen to Mar­cus Mur­phy bounced off Mur­phy’s face­mask and was re­cov­ered by the Bills for a 12-yard loss. Mc­Der­mott chal­lenged the rul­ing of a fum­ble.

“That’s a pass, it’s not a run,” said CBS an­a­lyst Tony Romo. “This has got to come back.”

Re­tired NFL ref­eree Gene Ster­a­tore agreed, say­ing “That’s a le­gal for­ward pass.”

It wasn’t over­turned. The Bills scored a TD on the drive, any­way.

Like ev­ery head coach, Mc­Der­mott gets ad­vice from an as­sis­tant or as­sis­tants in the booth. He never has named ex­actly who is in his ear or passed the buck.

“Ul­ti­mately it is my re­spon­si­bil­ity to throw the flag or not,” he said. “You try, No. 1, not to get caught up in the emo­tion of the play. There’s a lot of things that go on with the emo­tions of a play, es­pe­cially when you’re at home with the crowd. You get the best view I can from the po­si­tion I’m in, and I talk to my guys up top there.”

Ex­actly what Mc­Der­mott can do to im­prove his rate is am­bigu­ous, aside from giv­ing a dif­fer­ent as­sis­tant in the booth au­thor­ity and hop­ing Year 2017

2017 2017 2017 2018 2018 2018 2018 2018 2018 Week Week 3

Week 4 Week 8 Week 13 Week 2 Week 2 Week 3 Week 5 Week 8 Opp. Den­ver

At­lanta Oak­land New Eng­land L.A. Charg­ers L.A. Charg­ers

Min­nesota Ten­nessee New Eng­land

Week 13 Mi­ami Re­sult W

L L L L L L L L L that per­son has bet­ter in-the-mo­ment in­stincts.

Many of the calls that are chal­lenged are ex­tremely close. The side­line catch by New Eng­land’s Rob Gronkowski in Buf­falo in Week 8, which was chal­lenged and up­held, re­quired nu­mer­ous slow-mo­tion in­spec­tions be­fore a rul­ing could be given.

One could ar­gue it’s bet­ter to lose a chal­lenge than get “gun-shy” about it and fail­ing to chal­lenge a play that could be over­turned.

Ei­ther way, it’s a sub­ject that gets fans – and even NFL own­ers – riled up. Bills owner Terry Peg­ula fumed af­ter a TD pass to Kelvin Ben­jamin last year in New Eng­land was over­turned on video re­view. Peg­ula said he would take his con­cerns to the Sit­u­a­tion: A 44-yard Den­ver pass from own 11 ruled a catch. Over­turned. Helped Bills force punt and get a FG.

Sit­u­a­tion: A 39-yard Fal­cons pass on the side­line was ruled a catch. Up­held. A close but good call.

Sit­u­a­tion: Raiders given a first down on fourth-and-1 run from Bills 46. Up­held. Mc­Der­mott tried to get turnover on downs.

Sit­u­a­tion: Tom Brady tripped by own RB and threw in­com­plete. Up­held. Bad chal­lenge. It was ob­vi­ous no Bill touched Brady.

Sit­u­a­tion: Tyrell Wil­liams fum­bled af­ter a 20-yard catch and L.A. re­cov­ered. Up­held. Clear-cut de­ci­sion.

Sit­u­a­tion: Tight end Vir­gil Green touched ball while out of bounds af­ter fum­bling. Up­held.

Sit­u­a­tion: Shovel pass from Josh Allen to Mar­cus Mur­phy ruled a fum­ble. Up­held. Ter­ri­ble call by re­play of­fi­cials.

Sit­u­a­tion: Chal­lenge of spot af­ter third-down com­ple­tion at Ti­tans 22. Up­held. Close call.

Sit­u­a­tion: Catch by Rob Gronkowski on side­line for 22 yards ruled in bounds. Up­held. Good rul­ing.

Sit­u­a­tion: Chal­lenge of spot on sack of Ryan Tan­nehill at Mi­ami 1. Up­held. Close but a good rul­ing.

league, which in March tweaked the def­i­ni­tion of a catch. Un­der the new def­i­ni­tion, Ben­jamin’s catch would not have been re­versed.

And in 2016, the Bills authored a pro­posed rules change that would have al­lowed coaches to chal­lenge any play on the field. The NFL didn’t go that far, only mak­ing slight tweaks to re­view­able plays that year.

With six chal­lenges this year, Mc­Der­mott is tied for the most with Jack­sonville’s Doug Mar­rone (5-1), De­troit’s Matt Pa­tri­cia (3-3) and Bal­ti­more’s John Har­baugh (3-3).

Mc­Der­mott’s worst chal­lenge came in a home loss to New Eng­land last sea­son. He ar­gued Tom Brady had been sacked be­fore throw­ing an in­com­plete pass when Brady clearly tripped on his own team­mate be­fore

throw­ing the ball away.

This sea­son’s Week 2 loss to the Charg­ers was a case in which Mc­Der­mott des­per­ately was try­ing to keep the Bills in the game with a chal­lenge. The Bills were down, 21-3, in the sec­ond quar­ter when he chal­lenged an L.A. fum­ble play in the sec­ond quar­ter. (L.A. re­cov­ered.) He was look­ing for any way to stop the bleed­ing.

“There’s a lot of rea­sons to chal­lenge plays,” Mc­Der­mott said. “Some­times, it’s to cre­ate a spark. Some­times, like yes­ter­day, it’s po­ten­tial points with re­spect to a po­ten­tial safety. You try to do what’s in the best in­ter­est of the team at all times. Some­times, you feel good about tak­ing a chance just to get an­other look at it.”

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