If there’s a rule, someone will find a way to bend or break it. The same seems to be true for the CFL challenge rules and video review.
Fans who watched the Riders game against Calgary on July 22 saw how the Stampeders were able to draw pass interference penalties against the Roughriders through challenges over and over again.
After looking back at the tape earlier this week, head coach Chris Jones said he saw it was no accident.
“They’ve got a lot of double moves built into their offence and with the rules setup like they are, their receivers are looking for contact coming out of the double move, so that they can go and get the review,” Jones said Tuesday.
On a double move the receiver changes direction or speed to confuse a defender. According to Jones, it makes contact difficult for a defender to avoid.
“Technically, if you extend your hands and you contact (the receiver) at the seven, eight, nine-yard mark, you’re putting in the officials’ hands,” he explained.
“Then, not only that, in today’s day and age it’s going to be on the iPad immediately and then we can challenge it.”
After mentioning it Tuesday, Jones confirmed Thursday the Riders have, in fact, decided to incorporate it into their offence.
“You just built it into the hot route and then you tell the hot route to go vertical and create contact and look for contact and then throw their hands up,” he said.
“Then if the official doesn’t see it, then we will challenge it if we see that we’ve got contact after five yards.”
Jones admits this adaptation of the rules will change the game, but called the Stampeders use of it smart – which is why they’ve decided to do the same thing.
“I didn’t even really think about it until after the Calgary game and I went back and I looked at how many times (they did it) in the past over the last four weeks – they’re so successful with their challenges,” he said.
Before he began working on it with the team, Jones checked in with the league about how it was going to be enforced. While he declined to comment further on the conversation, Jones said he was satisfied enough with the answer to go forward with the plan.
Jones said his decision to use the double move comes with a consequence: “Unfortunately, our game will change into a challenge fest.”
For its part, the league knows there are some issues with the challenge process.
“It was never intended to try and game it, to try and use it as an offensive weapon or a way to keep a drive alive, so we’ve got some more work to do … to make the challenge process better,” said Glen Johnson, CFL vice-president resident of football, on the Green Zone this week.
Johnson said he continues to have meetings with the commissioner and league officials to fix it, but until that time it seems coaches will take advantage.