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Broncos notebook: Fangio 'not surprised' by pass-interference replay woes

Andrew Mason Avatar
September 27, 2019

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — You can’t blame Broncos coach Vic Fangio for trying out the league’s new ability for coaches to use instant replay to challenge calls regarding pass interference.

But after one attempt at challenging a call in the preseason opener in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 1 and another in last Sunday’s loss in Green Bay, Fangio is 0-for-2.

Then, he saw the failed Packers challenge from Thursday night, when Philadelphia’s Avontae Maddox plowed his torso and helmet into Green Bay wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Maddox’s left hand impacting Valdes-Scantling’s chin, to boot.

If that isn’t pass interference upon instant-replay review, what is?

“Yeah, you guys will be extra light if you thought I should or shouldn’t challenge something,” Fangio told media Friday when asked about the call.

“You guys have seen it — what would you do? There’s obviously some disconnection there, but I’m not surprised about it because the whole meeting at the league meetings when all this was started was dysfunctional. So it doesn’t surprise me.

“It just wasn’t, in my opinion, well thought-out [or] well-prepared,” Fangio added a moment later, “and [it was] a little haphazard.”

The back-and-forth regarding instant-replay challenges was the flashpoint of the league meeting, held in Phoenix in late March, with back-and-forth between coaches’ meetings and meetings of league owners and owners’ representatives, who ultimately passed the instant-replay proposal by a 31-1 margin.

The Bengals were the only team to vote against it.

“Any time you deal in the replay world, 24 votes is not quite as easy as you think,” Falcons president Rich McKay, the chairman of the Competition Committee, said the day that the instant-replay rule was changed. “We were able to make sausage in one day, which is good for us. I think we ended up in a good place.”

Six months later, the NFL appears to be in the opposite spot. Even John Elway, a member of the competition committee, isn’t pleased, according to Fangio.

“John’s as frustrated with it as anybody else,” Fangio said.


When Diontae Spencer faded back to field a J.K. Scott punt at the Denver 2-yard line last Sunday at Lambeau Field, hands slapped against foreheads from Fort Morgan to the Four Corners.

From his original spot, Spencer drifted … drifted … and drifted back, eventually fielding the 66-yard blast at his own 2-yard line instead of letting it bounce into the end zone for a touchback.

If this were Canadian football, Spencer’s decision would have been correct. Because touchbacks are worth one point — sometimes called a “single” or a “rouge” — there isn’t a point deep in his team’s territory at which a returner will not try a runback with space in front of him.

In the CFL, catching the football and returning it prevents the rouge. In the NFL, it only leaves you red-faced.

Special teams coordinator Tom McMahon’s advice was clear.

“Don’t have flashbacks back to the Canadian Football League,” McMahon said. “Seriously, because you’ve got to bring that ball out. That’s one point. But that’s not an excuse. You can’t go touch that ball. You let the ball hit and go block the gunner.

“He knows better than that regardless of what his old career was. He can’t do that.”

Spencer managed to get to the 15-yard line — 5 yards short of where it would have been had the ball harmlessly bounced into the end zone — but the Broncos still ended up back at their 3-yard line following a Davontae Harris penalty.

“It causes penalties, too, because guys get behind on a long punt like that,” McMahon said. “You’re in chase positions. He can’t put us in those situations.”

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