NFL officials had another rough weekend during the divisional round of the playoffs, highlighted by inconsistency, a botched replay and general incompetence. Officiating has been under intense scrutiny for much of the year, but is it really fair to expect part-time officials to get everything right? Here’s five ways the league can help improve the quality of its officials.
This is a no-brainer. Part-time officials don’t have the time to dedicate to knowing every single nuance of the NFL’s overly complex rule book. By hiring officials as full-time employees, the NFL can give them better instruction, go over more scenarios and have them better prepared for the weekend’s games. For a league that makes billions of dollars, it seems stupid to field part-time officials that have developed a bad tendency of directly impacting the outcomes of games due to missing calls.
Against the San Diego Chargers Sunday night, Broncos receiver Julius Thomas had what appeared to be a catch and fumble on a third down and short. After seeing the replay, it was clear that Thomas bobbled the ball as he was taken to the ground, and it was ripped out long before we could ever consider the “process” of the catch to have been completed.
Instead of overturning the call, the officials stuck with the call on the field of a catch then fumble, despite the lack of any football move that we constantly hear about. Worse yet, had the play happened in the end zone, there’s no way they would have stuck with the call of a touchdown over an incomplete pass.
The NFL has been looking into centralizing its replay similar to the way the NHL handles replay duties. By doing this, the NFL would create consistency where there appears to be incompetence, and it would take no longer than it currently takes by handling the situation on the field. It would also get officials out of the crosshairs of fan outrage, and that can’t be a bad thing either.
Broader Replay Rules
From time to time a play is deemed unreviewable for some obscure reason that makes absolutely no sense in the given context. Late in the regular season, the Steelers blocked a field goal, recovered the ball, attempted a lateral, but the lateral was dropped and a Steelers player hit the ball out of bounds on purpose, drawing an illegal bat penalty. Unfortunately, the officials decided the Steelers had never had possession of the ball, meaning the penalty was five yards and an automatic first down. Pittsburgh attempted to challenge the play, but possession in the field of play on a fumble is, apparently, not reviewable.
Although the NFL has tried to take judgment out of the game, there needs to be some room in the rules for common sense to prevail. The rule preventing possession reviews is intended to ensure that teams can’t review pileups, looking for possession, not to prevent looking at an individual scooping up the ball with no one else around. By allowing officials to take a look at more plays, the NFL can at least give them the tools to correct more of their wrong calls.
Simplify the Rulebook
As previously mentioned, the NFL rulebook is obscenely complicated. After the Broncos, Chargers game, I’m not sure anyone is exactly sure what constitutes a catch in the NFL. It’s gotten so bad that even using slow motion instant replays, officials still aren’t getting calls right. By simplifying the rulebook, the NFL could actually give officials a fighting chance to chalk up more calls in the “nailed it” column than the “whoops” column.
Add in Accountability
At the end of the day, this final suggestion may not be possible due to the officials’ current CBA; frankly, I haven’t read it and I don’t care to do so. Still, it’s apparent that the NFL needs to have some sort of way to get rid of bad officials and/or replace them with others should their officiating drop to the standard of the replacements of a couple years ago. When watching games, we all recognize who the good zebras are from the bad ones. If a game is being officiated by Ed Hochuli, Gene Steratore or Mike Carey, you’re probably in good shape. It’s when we see Scott Green, Clete Blakeman or Jeff Triplette that you have to worry. Developing some sort of method to add some accountability to NFL officiating can’t do any harm, and it would likely improve the overall quality of the officials over the long run.
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ALL OF THESE POINTS ARE VALID AND SHOULD BE IMPLEMENTED FOR THE NEXT SEASON. THE TEAM OWNERS AND NFL COMMISSIONER SHOULD CORRECT THESE AREAS. THESE CHANGES ARE LONG OVERDUE. MAKE IT HAPPEN.
We could argue as to whether or not it was the correct call. However that really isnt my point. My point is that one call can change the entire dynamics of a 16 game season. The call on Dan Skuta for unnecessary roughness also was bogus. If Donte Hitner doesnt intecept the pass afterwards the outcome of that game could have easily been very different.
It was the correct call.The rule is not written correctly.His forearm hit Brees in the face. That rule does not take into account the fact that as someone if falling their head will be moving in a downward position. Brooks grabbed for Brees and hit is neck, as Brees was falling Brooks' arm went to Brees face. You can't hit a QB in the head,which was the call.However , it looked more like Brees' face hit Brooks arm. It was a make up call for an earlier call against the Saints for leading with the helmet when the replay clearly showed he hit with the shoulder and not even a head shot.There were several bad calls in that game both ways.The one on Brooks came at a critical time.. It went on all season affecting many games, two which the Saints could have won but refs needed a payday. Yes I do believe there are refs that fix games. As in all sports.
Yes the NFL is ruined. All I want is the calls right. It was bad enough with replay but now you throw in the flags for unnecessary roughness. Ie. Brooks hit on Brees if that call is correctly not made. The result would be Niners #1 seed Carolina #2 seed Eagles #3 seed Packers #4 seed seahawks #5 seed Cardinals as #6 seed. Saints out and Phoenix in. This is huge s there is a lot at stke here!!!
I hope the refs have to go through physicals and have standards set up that must be achieved each year in order to keep officiating and not just get to keep coming back because they've been there.
Rules and egos have ruined the NFL & NASCAR as far as i am concerned. Yes....we do need full time officials. Also, how about getting rid of those grey haired grandpas that can't see well or run fast enough to keep up with the play. Lots of room for improvement here alrigh.
How many games have you seen where Nelson or Jones gets UP WHINING AND THEN OFFICIALS FIGURE HE MUST BE RIGHT HE HAS GOD throwing the ball to him
You need to change that to at least 10 ways. They need to refine the defenseless receiver rule and the helmet to helmet rules to at least reviewing it to make sure it is the correct call. Way too many bad calls with these 2 penalties . Since refs are human and can be bought or make huge mistakes at critical times in a game, coaches should be able to challenge at least 2 penalty calls per game. In the Saints v Seahawks game, the refs allowed the Seahawks, defensive backs to hold fist full of jerseys on almost every pass play with no,0, penalties. The Saints on the other hand got called for an offensive interference because the receiver broke free of the hold. That particular ref made bad calls all game long. How did he get to work a playoff game?
@acv3005 And how about calling a headbutt on one player and several plays later, not calling the same thing, and then they also need to learn how to count, liike the difference between 11 and 12. Yeah Im a panther fan.
@acv3005 That was the point of my comment as well. I don't think I saw a single game this year that didn't have a call that was questionable or done that changed or decided the outcome of the games. Refs need to be held accountable. to the people, not Vegas or Godell.
@Rudimiester agree and it shouldn't take another worthless commercial break. Maybe if they had more ppl with knowledge of game they wouldn't need such long breaks. I still remember the big plus to cable over broadcast was less commercials and better programs not unreality tv shit
@LarryDalzell I agree next in line is whole Packers RECIEVERS AND ERROR ROGERS