Lions GM: Have to get key calls right

ByMichael Rothstein ESPN logo
Friday, February 20, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS -- Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew wants to change what coaches can challenge in terms of instant replay, he said Friday.

Essentially, Mayhew wants to keep the replay rules the same but add a stipulation that if an official throws a flag during the game, that play and penalty can then be challenged by a coach.

His proposal also states that if no flag is thrown, that play can't be challenged for a potential penalty.

"You may have a questionable call during the game, but if it is not called a penalty then you can't challenge it," Mayhew said. "You don't want to have -- all of a sudden, a quarterback throws a 70-yard bomb for a touchdown late in a game or something and then you challenge it and say, 'Well, somebody was out there holding.' You don't want that.

"If they throw a flag, you can challenge it. It doesn't solve all the world's problems, but I think one of the travesties of the game -- one of the things that's going on right now that could be a lot better -- is on the Monday after the game, people are talking about the officials and the officiating and the bad calls and this call happened and that call that happened. I think they should be talking about the players on the field and what the players did in the course of the game."

Mayhew used Detroit's playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys as an example. Much of the talk after that game centered on the picked-up flag for pass interference on a critical play for the Lions, forcing the team into a fourth down instead of getting a first down had the penalty been called.

Mayhew felt that overshadowed the performance of Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, who Mayhew said played one of the better games by any quarterback last season.

Mayhew said he thinks this would be used on bigger plays in the game -- plays that would directly impact the game. But he feels his proposal won't complicate instant-replay challenge rules that are already somewhat complicated.

And it doesn't allow for teams to try to find something after the fact.

"The official has to make an affirmative act of throwing a flag, you know," Mayhew said. "So I think there are a lot of benefits to it. I would say in the room there was probably 60 percent against and 40 percent for at that time.

"But I think a lot of times, you have to go back. Anything radical, you have to think about it, and I think the emphasis should be on getting calls right. That's what our emphasis should be on -- that the calls are right."

Mayhew said the next step is for the proposal to go in front of the competition committee before the next league meetings, and members will watch plays that this proposal would have affected. From there, the committee will recommend to ownership whether to adopt the potential rule.

"They'll talk about it," Mayhew said. "Guys on the competition committee will talk about it and make a decision as to whether to recommend it to ownership as the next step."

Jeff Fisher, who is the co-chairman of the competition committtee, was asked Friday at the scouting combine if there was a way to review some penalties and not others.

"Right now everything is reviewable, except penalties," Fisher said. "It will be discussed, but there's -- something that's flagged, you have two standards and, to me, that's the biggest concern with it, is you have an on-the-field, full speed, bang-bang call made by the official -- we'll just say pass interference -- and now you're going to go to replay and you're going to go frame by frame by frame to determine whether it is or not.

"I'm not sure we want to go [there] with our game right now."

Jeff Legwold of contributed to this report.

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