Posted on: September 25, 2012 10:18 am

The 2012 Officiating Mess: Whose to Blame?

The following is my opinion and observations from the first 3 weeks of this referee debacle.  The only reason that I am writing this piece is because there are MANY observations that are being overlooked or brushed under the table by the media, fans, NFL, pretty much everyone involved.

2012 Game Observations:
In general, the replacement officials seem to be letting more physical contact occur between the defenders and wide receivers.  If anything, these officials are calling offensive penalties against the receiver in more situations than I have noticed in recent years.  As a fan, I like this.  I think that the NFL in the last 10 years have tried to create a more offense oriented league and have possibly influenced how the normal officials tend to call more pass interference, holding and illegal contact against defenders rather than their offensive counterpart.  The problem that I see is that as we complete Week 3, these calls are becoming extremely inconsistent in how they are being called.  Solution: Stress consistency with these replacement refs.  The worst thing is for it to be called on one play and not another.

In the trenches, the replacement officials seem to be more cognizant of hands to the face penalties against the offensive lineman, while letting obvious holding slip right past them.  The holding oversight seems to be frustrating these defensive lineman and outside linebackers to the point of boiling agression.  This appears to be manifesting into more trench skirmishes, cheap shots in the piles and fierce attacks on the quarterbacks.  For the first 3 weeks, it just seems as though frustrations are mounting and the attempts to cause bodily harm are noticeable by many of these frustrated players as they take a ball carrier or quarterback to the ground.  Solution:  The replacement officials need to be more wary of what constitutes holding by an offensive player and not be afraid to call it.  Second, the NFL is going to start handing out fines for players who are using manuevers or added moves to cause bodily harm, such as martial arts moves or flagrant actions to slam another player into the ground.  Third, I could easily see a move to have replacement officials call a play dead sooner, rather than letting it continue.  More in the grasp type rulings.

On the sideline, the replacement officials are being villified, even when they are correct.  I believe it was the Denver/Pittsburgh game that the replacement officials called Denver for 12 men on the field for defense.  Fox absolutely lit into the official on the sideline, much more than normal.  I believe he even challenged it and it was obvious.  When they cut back to Fox, instead of apologizing and admitting he didn't see it the first time, he was still insulting and bashing the replacement official.  The overall attitude of everyone on the sideline is that these replacement officials are beneath them, irrelevant, a joke, incompetent, ..... the list goes on and on. Until that changes, and it probably won't, the coaches, players and sidelines are going to continue to add gasoline onto the fire during the games.  It's a lack of implied authority to the officials on the field.  Solution:  NFL, tell these replacement officials to start ejecting these coaches.  Make an example out of a couple of them in the coming weeks and I guarantee they will tone it down and start to be the team leaders they are supposed to be.

Non-Game Observations:
Why all the hatred and vile towards these replacement officials who are just trying to do a job that must be done and are frankly undertrained and not experienced enough to do at this point?

If the rules haven't changed, the players and coaches are experienced and know the rules, then what is the root cause of this escalation?  Go ask Keshawn Johnson.  In his pre-Monday night football analysis this week, he clearly states what it going on.  As the coaches and the players start to realize what they can get away with and what they can't, they will exploit these replacement officials and the "Integrity of the Shield" as they keep saying, in order to win at all cost.

The NFL this year is turning into "The Longest Yard" because the players and coaches have a scapegoat and are taking advantage of it.

Ask yourself this:  If a high school teacher has to miss some days and the school has to place a substitute in the classroom, does that give the students a free pass to make up their own rules or test the substitute's knowledge of the rule book?  I would be upset with my child, not the substitute teacher, if my kid was going to school and taking advantage of the situation and tarnishing the classroom and it's learning environment.

It's a bad and frustrating situation, but let's make sure to pass blame evenly where blame is due.

Posted on: September 4, 2009 12:11 pm
Edited on: September 4, 2009 12:43 pm

Interesting Piece of History

Recently, while researching the 'white buffalo' of rushing records, I stumbled upon a very entertaining story from years gone by. 

I had heard mention last year about Dallas Cowboys rookie running back, Felix Jones and his amazing pursuit of one of the most elusive and longest standing records in pro-football.  The average yards per rushing attempt record.  See, before Felix Jones became injured in the 6th game of the 2008 season, he was averaging 8.9 yards per attempt, .5 better than the longstanding record of 8.44 yards per attempt held by William Beattie Feathers the "Bounding Antelope" in 1934.

Some would credit Michael Vick for breaking that record in 2006, but Vick was a QB, not a running back.  It's a little more difficult to produce those numbers from the RB position when there is little threat that you might be passing the ball.

In digging into the history of Beattie Feathers, I came across this really interesting and well written blog by Oskie (http://www.3sib.com/2009/09/02/the-
list-no-6-beattie-feathers/) concerning Feathers time at the University of Tennessee.

The following is an excerpt from his blog concerning the "punting duel" game of 1932 between Tennessee and Alabama.  Feathers was not only a running back, but he also was the punter, safety and returner.

The year 1932, his junior season, brought more of the same for Feathers.  This was the year of the “punting duel” against Alabama’s John “Hurry” Cain.  During that game, which was in a rainstorm, the teams exchanged over forty punts, over twenty of which were Feathers’.  Feathers punts, which often came on first down, averaged in the mid-40s. I guess that’s what we might call “playing not to lose.”  Neyland was never a fan of having to drive 80 yards to score, and it is apparent, being a defensive mastermind, that he would rather play defense and score points that way.

An impressive feat, neither Feathers nor Cain ever left the game, as both men played the safety position on defense.  Near the end of the duel, Feathers punted a great one to the 1-yard line.  Alabama’s Jim Dildy later commented of this moment:

“We should have taken a safety and won the game 3-2.”

Instead, the Tide chose to kick it away, but the ball was kicked out of bonds only 11 yards to the 12-yard line.  Despite having what must have been tired legs, Feathers still had gas in the tank.  He ended up scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter for the win, 7-3.

After reading this historical account, I wonder openly what would happen if an NFL coach took this same approach and punted on 1st downs, just to keep the other teams offense on the field more and control the field position better.  In certain cases and with certain teams, this approach might actually work.

Wouldn't that be a game to witness?
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