Nothing Should Be Automatic

Updated: Jan 22

In honor of NFL Sunday, let’s really dig in here. This one is for all the football aficionados out there. We are going deep into football rules analysis here. 


Pass interference is one of the most devastating penalties in football. In the NFL, defensive pass interference is a spot foul that results in an automatic first down for the offense. This penalty has become an offensive tactic. Ask the Ravens of the “Chuck It Up” Joe Flacco era. They rode this rule to a Super Bowl title.


For such a subjective penalty, the consequence is incredible harsh. 


Let’s start with the yardage associated with the penalty. The ball is placed at the spot of the foul. So if the QB can huck it up 70 yards, then that’s where the ball goes. I get it, the defender prevented the receiver from catching the ball, but who knows if the receiver would have actually caught it. The NCAA has the rule right, 15 yards. Which is reasonable in my opinion. 


The second issue is more universal with a lot of penalties. There are quite a few penalties that result in an “automatic first down.” This is complete garbage. There should be no such thing as an “automatic” first down. I get that some penalties will result in some first downs based on the yardage associated with them. The biggest offender here is defensive holding. The penalty itself results in 5 yeards for the offense. Perfectly ok. It’s the automatic first down that comes along with it that is infuriating. It could be 3rd and 32, and if some defender grabs a hold of a receivers jersey, the drive continues. Total bogus. 


NFL football is way too biased toward offense in the first place. Now let’s just give offenses easy yardage and first downs on minor penalties. Sure, give the offense 15 yards for DPI, and 5 for holding, but do not give them an automatic first down. Just replay the down with the added yardage, and if the yardage results in a first down, so be it. 


This is just so simple. That’s why the NFL won’t take my suggestion. It makes wayyyyyyyyy too much sense.



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