“This isn’t an all-inclusive list,” Blandino said. “Let’s say a player controls the ball and he stumbles for 10 yards and he doesn’t necessarily tuck the ball away. Well, I think at that point common sense would dictate that he had the ball long enough. But for the most part, most of the plays that we’ve looked at, these potentially bang-bang plays, either the player turned upfield and tucked the ball away and braced for contact, or he got hit prior to doing those things and the ball came out and was incomplete.
At that point, it becomes an entirely subjective call, something the NFL should avoid. After all, we all seem to have differing opinions of what a catch is and isn’t.
Blandino maintained that the NFL tried to make the rule “clearer” with the updated language, but also admitted to something we’ve all known since that infamous Dez Bryant non-catch: The time aspect is super “gray.”
“The catch rule has been obviously a subject for debate and what we try to do is just make it clearer as to what the time element is,” Blandino said. “A catch is control, then two feet (down in bounds), then time. And we all tend to agree, for the most part, on control and two feet.
“But it’s that time element that becomes gray. Well, how long does the player have to have the ball after the second foot is down? So what we try to do in the (rule) book is put some language in, some things that are tangible that you can look at. So after the second foot is down, does the player tuck the ball away? Does he turn upfield? Does he have the ability to avoid contact, whether that’s using his off arm to attempt to stiff-arm a defender?
“So it’s some things that fans and coaches and players and, most importantly, officials can look at and use to make a decision that that receiver has now transitioned to a runner and now he has possession. So if the ball comes loose after that, it’s a fumble versus an incomplete pass.
“So, really, not a change to how the rule is being officiated, but it’s just trying to make it clearer, trying to give our officials and everybody else just some things that they can look for when we’re looking at these plays because these are plays that have been debated over the past couple of years. We’ve been talking about catch-no catch with the Competition Committee for 10-15 years.”
Ten to 15 years later, the rule still isn’t much clearer.
Anquan Boldin’s free agency might be nearing its end. Training camp, which is the time when Boldin would be expected to start mastering a new offense, is just a couple weeks away, and one team has reportedly emerged as the favorite to sign the 35-year-old receiver.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Saints should be considered the frontrunner in the Boldin sweepstakes, which has drawn mild interest. Boldin reportedly visited the Lions and Redskins earlier this offseason.
If Boldin signs with the Saints, he’ll slot in alongside the speedy Brandin Cooks and Michael Thomas, who the Saints drafted in the second round of this year’s draft. At this stage in his career (and for the past few years), Boldin’s slowed considerably, but he’s still a big-bodied target capable of warding off defenders on tightly contested passes.