Bruce Arians Comments on How to Fix NFL's Catch Rule

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2016

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The definition of what is and isn't a catch in the NFL has been debated on a regular basis in recent years, but Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians believes the solution is fairly simple.  

According to's Chris Wesseling, the two-time AP NFL Coach of the Year thinks the league and its officials must simply use "common sense" when evaluating a potential reception: "Common sense. It wasn't a big problem 10 years ago. Guy runs into the wall in the back of the end zone and drops the ball because he's about to break his neck, it's not a catch anymore. Two feet on the ground and possession of the ball should be a catch."

The controversy dates back to a disallowed touchdown catch by Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson against the Chicago Bears in 2010 when he seemingly completed a reception only for the play to be overturned when the ball popped out of his hand at the end.

Per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, one of the greatest receivers of his generation simply isn't sure of what constitutes a catch:

Also, as seen in this video, courtesy of the NFL on Twitter, Lions receiver Golden Tate was given a touchdown this past season despite the ball getting ripped out of his hands by the Bears as he crossed the goal line.

A would-be reception by Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant against the Green Bay Packers in the 2014-15 playoffs was overturned as well when it was determined the ball touched the ground despite Bryant seemingly maintaining possession.

Had it been ruled a catch, the Cowboys very well may have headed to the NFC Championship Game.

According to Jarrett Bell of USA Today, Bryant is a major proponent of a clarification of the rules and would like to have a hand in it: "They need to invite me. Tell them they need to call me, so I can have my input."

The blurry outlook regarding catches appears to be near the top of the list in terms of what the NFL needs to clear up, but Bleacher Report's Jason Cole recently revealed the league isn't expected to make any rule changes on that front:

Arians doesn't seem to believe rule changes are needed as much as a more simplified and obvious interpretation of the current regulations.

Because of instant replay and the challenge system, it is far easier to scrutinize catches now than ever before.

Many plays come down to a judgment call from the officials, and there may be no foolproof way to fix that no matter how simple or complicated the rules are made to look on paper.


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