2:33 PM ET
INDIANAPOLIS — There is wide agreement among NFL decision-makers that their 2021 standard for taunting penalties should largely remain in place moving forward, NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said Tuesday.
The league’s internal review of 2021 film revealed a total of 61 taunting flags in 2021, the most in at least two decades of league play, following a point of emphasis intended to reduce hostilities between players. Of that total, 56 were attributed to acts the NFL will continue to legislate, a list that includes standing over and/or pointing to opponents, as well as moving toward an opponent’s bench.
“We have to stand on sportsmanship,” Vincent said. “That was universally in agreement. … But there are areas we need to clean up.”
Vincent was part of an expanded meeting Tuesday morning with the NFL competition committee, the general manager advisory council and the coaches subcommittee, all of whom are gathered for the scouting combine. There were only five calls from 2021, Vincent said, that the group agreed should not be penalized in the future. Among them was a flag against Pittsburgh Steelers T.J. Watt during a Week 13 game against the Baltimore Ravens. On the play, Watt exchanged words with a Ravens player as he was walking away from him.
“We’re not looking for that,” Vincent said. “The referee can inject, separate them, give them an opportunity [to keep playing]. ‘Celebrate with your teammates’ was a phrase that was pretty clear. Don’t go back toward your opponent.”
Meanwhile, two veteran coaches — the Kansas City Chiefs‘ Andy Reid and the Ravens’ John Harbaugh — led a discussion about expanding the replay assist program instituted to widespread acclaim in 2021. The rule allowed in-stadium replay officials to advise referees on a limited menu of objective calls, but many coaches and executives believed the advice moved into other, ineligible calls. Reid and Harbaugh said they appreciated the attempt to correct as many mistakes as possible, according to Vincent, but wanted it to be formalized in the rule.
Referee Bill Vinovich and other officials were in the meeting, and Vincent said they denied that any replay officials went beyond the scope of the rule. Instead, they said the corrections came from on-field officials.
“The perception on the sideline form the coaches and potentially the fans,” Vincent said, “was thinking that someone was talking to [the replay official or] someone in New York, and it wasn’t the case.”
Some coaches remain interested in expanding the rule to include other elements, in particular roughing the passer, Vincent said. But according to Vincent, Vinovich told the group that the league’s 17 replay officials — one per crew — are not all qualified to judge subjective calls.
“Let’s just say some are a little bit higher performers than others,” Vincent said. “We’re not there yet. … We’ve got some ways to go.”
In other news, Vincent said there is no consensus yet on whether the league will change overtime rules to guarantee both teams a possession. If there is momentum, it might be to make a change for postseason games only.
Also, the league’s future of football committee will make a presentation this week on whether computer chips can be used to more consistently spot where punts go out of bounds, Vincent said.
Source: ESPN NFL