Digging Deeper Into the Replay Issue

Safe to say,  Chip Kelly and his staff  have been a little shaky in the instant replay department so far this year. They are 1-for-4 on challenges. Sunday the issue was the decision not to challenge, particularly on one play — a 36-yard reception by the Packers’ Jarrett Boykin in the second quarter.

Television replays showed that the receiver’s hand was out of bounds before his second foot came down in the field of play. The call on the field would almost certainly have been overturned. Ultimately it didn’t cost the Eagles —  Brandon Boykin came up with an interception later in the drive–  but it could have. It’s an area of in-game management that needs to be cleaned up.

Kelly provided an interesting explanation when asked about the decision to not challenge in that spot.

“They said they got one clip up in the box,” Kelly told reporters Monday. “They saw both feet down, couldn’t really tell where the elbow was and then they were snapping the ball and going. What our coaches see in the box isn’t what everybody sees on national television. It’s just what is available to them then. There was really no discussion after that.”

Kelly said that what his assistants see in the booth is different from what the national audience sees. That shouldn’t be the case. Here are the league rules regarding the replay process:

It is mandatory that all clubs provide television monitors in the press box booths used by both coaching staffs. The visiting team must be provided with the same number and size color television monitors as the home team. Each coaches’ booth must have at least two (2) monitors, one of which must be at least 32 inches. All television monitors must be high definition units. No additional replay capability is permitted other than that provided by the televising network.

The network television feed used in the coaches’ booths will be supplied directly from the network television truck, minimizing the delay between live play and the broadcast. This feed is identical to the feed used in the Instant Replay Booth. Prior to each game, the Instant Replay Technician, a League employee, will be responsible for confirming that both coaches’ booths have the correct video feed.

The network feed is what the audience sees at home, and is “supplied directly from the network television truck, minimizing the delay between live play and the broadcast.” Theoretically, assistants in the box should have an opportunity to see the play from a couple different angles before the next play. That is especially true in this situation, given that there was almost a full minute in-between the catch and the Packers’ next snap from scrimmage.

The Eagles were offsides on the play, so the Packers had to wait for the official’s explanation. They appeared to huddle. When Green Bay finally did get to the line quarterback Scott Tolzien was calling out commands (possible audibling), prompting Troy Aikman to say: “Tolzien, unaware of it, he’s taking his time at the line.”

How could Pat Shurmur (the go-to man in the booth) and company only get one look in that time?

Here’s one plausible explanation: According to an Eagles spokesman, the televisions can be set to the in-house replay feed — the same feed that is shown to the crowd on the big screens. That is typically a home-team friendly operation. If a replay favors the opposition, it generally won’t make it up to the big board. Is it possible that the Eagles had the wrong channel on? That would explain Kelly’s assertion that “what our coaches see in the box isn’t what everybody sees on national television.”

A league spokesman, when asked if TVs can be changed from the television feed to the in-house replay feed in the booth, simply replied: “No.” Yet this isn’t the first time a visiting team has seemingly had issues getting the same replays the rest of the country is getting.

Bottom line, the assistants should be able to see what the audience is seeing, and with limited delay. This is what they should have been looking at Sunday:

The fact that Boykin’s hand was down before his second foot was clear from multiple television angles. (Kelly mentioned the elbow in his explanation, but the elbow didn’t need to be down — he was out of bounds.)

This one should have been easy. Again, no harm done. The Eagles didn’t allow any points that drive and left Green Bay with a win. But the replay process is something they need to get straightened out moving forward.