Replay Review: How Did Pat Shurmur Do With Challenges?

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 19: A red challenge flag lies on the field during the game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Candlestick Park on December 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)

These days, it's not necessarily the head coach who makes the decision on whether to challenge a play or not, but rather the people upstairs who advise them what to do. In Pat Shurmur's first year as head coach, did he have a good challenge/overturned ratio? And how did the league's change on automatic replay reviews of scoring plays turn out?

Shurmur and the Browns weren't bad at challenging plays this season. Shurmur threw the red challenge flag seven times, and the plays were overturned five times (71.43% overturned rate). One of Shurmur's failed challenges came this past Sunday against the Steelers, when a reception by receiver Antonio Brown was upheld. Shurmur's challenge rate was at least better than what Eric Mangini's challenge rate was. In Mangini's two seasons as the Browns' head coach, he only had 2-of-13 challenges overturned (15.3% overturned rate).

Even though the sample sizes are ridiculously small to make a sound judgment, only three teams finished with a better challenge rate than the Browns: the Colts, the Jets, and the Raiders. The team with the best rate was the Jets, having 9-of-10 challenges overturned (90% overturned rate). The team with the worst rate was the Rams, having 0-of-3 challenges overturned (0% overturned rate). The most challenge-happy team was the Lions, attempting 15 challenges (with only 4 being overturned).

In terms of the review system in general, the big change this year was that all scoring plays would automatically be reviewed by the booth and were not challengable. At the beginning of the season, I had mixed feelings about this rule. I thought it was good that a team wouldn't get screwed on a bad touchdown call if they were out of challenges, but I thought it would also slow the game down tremendously (touchdown...commercial break...extra point...commercial break...kickoff...commercial break). This seemed to be the case on one play in the preseason, but when the regular season came, I don't recall there being one problem with the system. Besides a buzzer maybe not working once or twice, everything seemed to go very smooth. As for the changes to the kickoff rule, that's a story for another day.

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