The NFL may have it reason’s to carry out the lockout this late in the regular-season owing to the wide rift between its ideals and the NFLRA’s demands since summer, but that gives the league no excuse to let inexperienced men (and a woman) parade around the field to officiate games in a fast paced contact sport like football. The league doesn’t lack in funds or expertise to train this new group of refs, so why is it that we are still seeing these replacement officials making huge game changing blunders at the start of Week 4. Surely they can be better – surely there is room for improvement – and maybe they can start with these five basic principles.
Take early control of the game
The replacement officials appeared to have lost it early against the veteran teams New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens in a most recent game. The two sides surely weren’t going to play nice after sharing most recent history in the AFC final, and they were willing to dodge the referees’ eyes to get the tiniest bit of advantage. Players were unnecessarily rough and even carried on plays after the referees’ whistle. At one point New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick even drew out his red challenge flag and the replacement officials reversed this former wrong verdict of a competition. But the referees were slowing gaining charge by second half and that’s probably the way to go (even if Bill Belichick’s grabbing an official following the game dulled that spirit, but we’ll get there.)
Set an example of rule breakers
The word “replacement officials” doesn’t seem to be doing the referees any good and the players have been treating them likewise (as substitutes). The referees have got to take a strong action against those who go against the rules even if requires the ejection of a few players. The following players will pick a hint and start playing clean.
Take a note out of Denver Broncos’ Sunday game against the Houston Texans. Denver Broncos linebacker Joe Mays went in with a head-on collision with Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. The NFL fined Joe Mays later, but it would have set a stronger example if he had been immediately ejected from the game and served with an on the spot heavy penalty.
Get a grip of the basics starting with the down distance, challenges and timeouts
Again, Sunday was a prime example of hoe referee Ken Roan mistakenly granted San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh two challenges although he was out of time.
And during Tennessee Titans’ game against the Detroit Lions, instead of marking-off a 15-yard penalty form the Titan’s 44-yard line the referees started with the Detroit Lions that landed Tennessee a 27 yard advantage.
This shouldn’t be a difficult one to grasp. Remember the Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers game where an official chunked his hat to the end zone and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Kevin Ogletree slipped on it resulting in an incompletion. Maybe we can keep such clutter off-field.
We can certainly step up the officiating by identifying players by their numbers when calling them out for an infraction. This seemed to be missing in the Minnesota Vikings’ game against San Francisco 49ers too, when players were penalized without their numbers being called out.