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Friday, November 22, 2019

Stories by Grey Papke:

DeAndre Hopkins calls for changes in NFL’s pass interference reviewers

DeAndre Hopkins became a high-profile victim of what looked like obvious pass interference on Sunday that was not called and not overturned on review, and he’s openly calling for changes in light of that.

After an offseason rule change gave teams the option to challenge pass interference calls, it turned out the rule didn’t really work in practice. Calls are almost never changed on the field from the league review that takes place in New York.

Hopkins was the victim of this Sunday, when what looked like a clear instance of pass interference was not flagged on the field or on review. That prompted Hopkins to take to Twitter after the game and call for new reviewers in New York going forward.

Would new reviewers even matter? If the NFL is not committed to changing these calls, it doesn’t matter who’s looking at it if there’s resistance to changes at the very top. Hopkins is hardly the first to be critical of the way the system works right now, and it hasn’t made a difference yet.

Amusingly enough, an instance of pass interference that wasn’t all that different from what happened to Hopkins actually was overturned later Sunday. Perhaps the league noticed the outcry over what happened to Hopkins and the Texans and decided to be a little bit proactive.

Jaguars will stick with Nick Foles for rest of season despite blowout loss

Nick Foles Jags

Nick Foles’ return as quarterback did not help the Jacksonville Jaguars this week, but they’re not going to immediately turn away from him.

Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said immediately after the game that Foles would remain ahead of Gardner Minshew on the depth chart for the remainder of the season despite the team’s 33-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

It was a reasonable question, as Foles was not great. He relied on checkdowns, and one of his two touchdowns came deep into garbage time. Part of that may have been rust, as he hasn’t played since Week 1. That alone is probably why the Jaguars would be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Minshew was something of a sensation early in the season, but he began to struggle just as Foles got healthy. The Jaguars have invested significantly in Foles, and he’s going to have the chance to prove himself, especially with the Jaguars fading from playoff contention.

Watch: Cardinals manage to win pass interference challenge

One of the running themes of the 2019 NFL season has been the addition of the ability to challenge pass interference calls or non-calls. More specifically, the story has been the fact that such calls are almost never overturned, even when the pass interference seems obvious.

On Sunday, however, the Arizona Cardinals managed to pull off the seemingly impossible and successfully challenge a pass interference non-call. 49ers defensive back Richard Sherman was ruled to have interfered with Cardinals receiver Christian Kirk, and the ball was moved to the San Francisco 3-yard line.

This, apparently, is what it takes to overturn a pass interference non-call:

Overturning that and penalizing Sherman was the correct decision, but it only exposes the flaws in the current system. Earlier in the day, a play in the Texans-Ravens game was every bit as blatant a foul as this play was, but in that instance, the call was not made, even after review. That’s usually what happens, so it’s genuinely shocking that the review yielded a foul here.

Watch: Colts celebrate touchdown with simulated keg stand

The Indianapolis Colts broke out one of the more memorable celebrations we’ll see this year after a touchdown in Sunday’s game.

The Colts gave the ball to offensive lineman Quenton Nelson to try to bust through the defense in a goal line situation. He was initially ruled to have done so, which sparked off a tremendous end zone celebration involving the whole team involving a Nelson keg stand.

The bad news? The touchdown was overturned on replay and did not count. We still got the celebration, though.

Look, spontaneous touchdown celebrations are great. But sometimes, the best ones turn out to be the rehearsed ones that require the entire team to be on the same page. This is a clear example of the latter category working to perfection.

Georgia photographer gives update on condition after scary collision

Georgia student photographer

The photographer who was injured in a frightening collision during Saturday’s Georgia-Auburn game gave an update on her condition Saturday.

Chamberlain Smith, who describes herself as a Georgia alum in her Twitter bio, said she had been diagnosed with a concussion and also had some bruises. Ultimately, though, she expects to recover and return to the sideline to resume her photography duties in the future. She also thanked everyone for the many messages of support she had received after the collision.

Concussions are no joke, so hopefully Smith takes it easy. She was hit very hard by a Georgia player while on the sidelines and had to be carted off the field in a scary incident. Her prognosis appears to be good, and hopefully she can make a full recovery and get back to work soon.

Urban Meyer defends Nick Saban’s handling of Tua Tagovailoa

Nick Saban

Alabama coach Nick Saban has come under significant criticism for his handling of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in Saturday’s game, but another high-profile name in the sport has his back.

Tagovailoa was still in the game with three minutes left in the first half despite the fact that he was still recovering from an ankle injury and had the team ahead 35-7. That was the point that Tagovailoa hurt his hip, an injury that is set to end his season. Many argued that Saban was reckless with his quarterback and that Tagovailoa should have been resting by that point. Saban later said in an interview that that was going to be Tagovailoa’s last possession of the game.

Urban Meyer, now doing analysis for FOX Sports, said he understood where Saban was coming from in his decision to leave Tagovailoa in.

“I was staring at Coach Saban’s face right there. He’s hurting,” Meyer said. “He’s gonna get his players ready to play the games coming up down the road. … It’s the obligation of the coach to get the team ready. And he sees Auburn coming down the road, a potential SEC Championship, and he made the comment about a two-minute drill. I certainly understand that. Is it the right thing or the wrong thing? That’s his decision to make with the player involved.”

Meyer also relayed a story from when he was coaching Florida about an injury suffered by Tim Tebow. Meyer had decided Tebow would not play in a massive game against LSU, but he was cleared by doctors. Meyer initially didn’t change his stance until a “heated” discussion with Tebow and his father, and the coach ultimately relented. That story was meant to illustrate that players want to play, and that Tagovailoa probably didn’t want to be sitting, either.

Saban said as much after the game.

Tagovailoa’s injury sounds very severe, and the second-guessing of Saban will continue. That second-guessing does not sound likely to come from Meyer.

NFL says it learned of Colin Kaepernick workout move via Twitter

Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick ultimately participated in a workout in Georgia on Saturday, but it was not the NFL-sponsored one that was originally intended.

Kaepernick and the NFL are engaging in something of a PR war after Kaepernick opted to move the location of his workout. That decision, according to Kaepernick’s representatives, came about because the NFL refused to allow the media to attend, as well as a dispute over an injury waiver.

The NFL is firing back via Twitter, claiming that Kaepernick’s requests for media availability and his own injury waiver were abruptly sent to the league today, and the NFL didn’t find out about Kaepernick’s change of venue until it was posted by his representatives on Twitter.

On the issue of video, it’s abundantly clear that Kaepernick’s reps did not trust the NFL to present a fair depiction of Kaepernick’s workout. The rest is simply a matter of who you believe more, as Kaepernick claimed the league refused to allow the media to attend and sought to have him sign a non-standard injury waiver. In the end, Kaepernick’s workout was not sanctioned by the NFL, and didn’t even feature the coach the NFL had brought in to run it. It was, however, streamed live online.

Watch: Dan Mullen hilariously drops a ‘War Eagle’ ahead of Auburn game

Dan Mullen

For the next few hours, Florida coach Dan Mullen is a very big Auburn fan.

The Gators need some major help if they want to win the SEC East this season. They’re 6-2 in the conference, but the Georgia Bulldogs are ahead of them at 5-1.

Florida could claw back a game Saturday, as Georgia has to go on the road to face the 12th-ranked Auburn Tigers. As long as that’s happening, Mullen is not hiding his preference for an Auburn win — right down to a “War Eagle.”

Of course, even this wouldn’t be enough. Georgia beat Florida head-to-head and hold the tiebreaker as a result. The Bulldogs have to lose two of three against Auburn, Texas A&M, and Georgia Tech to open the door for the Gators. That may be too much to ask.

It’s somewhat funny to see Mullen singing Auburn’s praises now. The tone was quite different just a month ago, but sometimes, you have to root for old foes for your own benefit.