Tag:NFL umpires
Posted on: September 7, 2010 11:33 am
Edited on: September 7, 2010 11:35 am

NFL makes changes to umpire positioning

Posted by Andy Benoit

The NFL just sent the CBS NFL Facts & Rumors Blog an outline of the changes made to the umpire positioning. The league is hoping to fix the many kinks that were discovered in the preseason with the relocation of the umpires to the backfield. We'll find out in two days how it goes. 
Here's what the league wrote:

In a memo to clubs today, NFL Vice President of Officiating Carl Johnson confirmed the following regarding the implementation of the decision to move the Umpire to a position in the offensive backfield. 
1.      Umpires will be lined up no more than 12 yards from the line of scrimmage. At the beginning of the preseason, they were approximately 15 yards back.
2.      The Umpire must be beyond the deepest offensive player before the offense can legally snap the ball. Originally, the ball could not be snapped until the Umpire had assumed his position.
3.      A line of scrimmage official (either the Head Linesman or Line Judge) will signal when a legal snap is permitted. The original procedure required the quarterback to check with the Referee. The official will signal when the Umpire (or the Referee, if that is the case) is even with the deepest player.
4.      Umpires will assume a position on the defensive side of the ball after the two-minute warning of the second quarter and inside five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, instead of after the two-minute warning of each half.
5.      Umpires will assume a position on the defensive side of the ball when the offense is at or inside the defensive five-yard line. For potential scoring plays near the goal line, it is useful for the Umpire to be operating in close proximity to the line of scrimmage.
6.      Since this is a change in mechanics, the Referee has the authority to warn the offense that it could be penalized for an illegal snap for future action. This is similar to other situations in which warnings may be issued (i.e., tackles not on the line of scrimmage, etc.). However, in the event of a clear violation, a foul will be called without warning.
In addition, the referees and umpires will meet on Friday in Dallas to review the preseason and the mechanics of the umpire position (A conference call will be held with the referee and umpire in advance of Thursday night’s game to review the same material).
As a reminder, the most important factor in considering the move of the Umpire to the offensive backfield is the safety of the Umpire.

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Category: NFL
Tags: NFL umpires
Posted on: August 30, 2010 11:04 am
Edited on: August 30, 2010 11:05 am

Manning, Polian detest new ball-spotting rules

Posted by Andy Benoit

Not surprisingly, Peyton Manning and Bill Polian are displeased -- perhaps even downright angry -- with the NFL’s new ball-spotting rule. Because umpires are now lining up in the backfield, it’s taking longer for them to spot the ball. And, after they spot the ball, they must run back to their spot some 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Consequently, the quarterback must look to the line judge to get a go-ahead to snap the ball. As we saw at Lambeau Field last Thursday night, this slows Indy’s hurry-up offense. B. Polian (US Presswire)

As usual, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, in his most recent Monday Morning Quarterback Column, got great insight on the mess. Manning told King, "If we had this rule last year there's no way we catch up in that New England game. We were down, what, 21 points in the fourth quarter? We wouldn't have had enough time to run enough plays to catch up. But forget about that game. Let's chart all the comeback wins where a team runs the hurry-up in the fourth quarter. How many of those games would have ended up the same way -- or would the quarterbacks have had enough time to run enough plays to come back and win?''

Indy’s gripe also pertains to the snap infringement penalty (which they were flagged for twice against Green Bay). "I am dead-set against the penalty,'' Polian, who is on the Competition Committee, said. "It is insane. If I knew it would be this way, I'd have voted against it, and not only that, I'd have crusaded against it.''

It is believed that the NFL will try to fix the timing issues, though VP of officiating, Carl Johnson, doesn’t seem too creative at this point.

"The way the new mechanic of the umpire positioning is, I don't have a resolution to that,'' Johnson told King. "It's going to take a couple extra seconds to spot the ball. There's no way around that. But this is a work in progress. We're aggressively seeking ways to improve the mechanics.''

King bounces around several ideas for what the league can do to remedy the problem. A major obstacle is that the league has already acknowledged that the umpire was moved because of safety concerns. This significantly limits the possibility of simply moving the umpires back to his original spot. After all, if that were to happen, then not only would the league be saying it doesn’t care about the umpire’s safety, but it could also be liable if an umpire were to get seriously injured.

It’s safe to assume that when the apparently hasty decision to relocate the umpire was made, the NFL did not foresee having to deal with so many issues this close to the start of the regular season.

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Posted on: August 27, 2010 11:09 am
Edited on: August 27, 2010 11:11 am

New umpire positioning proving to be a problem

Posted by Andy Benoit

The Colts-Packers gave fans rare first-class preseason entertainment Thursday night, but what ardent football buffs took away from the game was just how disruptive the new umpiring position can be.

By now, you’ve probably had it explained to you 9 or 10 times that the NFL has decided to relocate the umpire from the linebacking area to the backfield. The main reason behind the move was umpire safety (there were 100 collisions and three injuries to umpires in 2009).

So far this preseason, the popular thing for television analysts to explain is that this relocation will lead to more offensive holding calls.
(This, by the way, will probably prove untrue before long; penalties always increase with rule changes, but ultimately, players adjust.)
NFL Umpire (US Presswire)
In ESPN’s Packers-Colts telecast, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden remonstrated about how the umpire’s new positioning slows down the flow of play. The umpire must spot the ball and then run 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage. The offense is not allowed to snap the ball until the umpire and referee are both deeper than the deepest back. This means a one- to two-second delay, which, in hurry-up time, is an eternity.

Because of this, the NFL decided that umpires will remain in their old linebacker position inside of two minutes. But this doesn’t help a team like the Colts, who run a hurry-up outside of two minutes. Indeed, Indy was flagged for two false snaps Thursday night. They were held up on several more snaps, with Peyton Manning constantly having to look to his left to get the side judge’s approval to snap the ball. As Jaws and Gruden stressed, this forces a quarterback to take his eyes off the defense, which goes against everything he’s taught.

Colts president Bill Polian is very powerful within the NFL (he’s on the Competition Committee). You can bet he’s going to ask (demand) that the league re-examine the execution of the umpire’s new positioning.

Gruden correctly pointed out that the difference in the flow of the hurry-up outside of two minutes and inside of two minutes was startling. Jaws suggested that, instead of worrying so much about the umpire’s safety, the league should find more athletic umpires and give them helmets. It’s not a bad idea when you consider that doing so would force only one person to make a drastic change (the umpire) rather than an entire offense to make a drastic change.

The NFL seems hesitant to make major changes, though. In an e-mail sent to ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky, NFL spokesman Michael Signora said, "The movement of the umpire to the offensive backfield will happen in the regular-season. We continue to analyze and review the impact of the change in the preseason, and we may announce some tweaks to the mechanics of the position prior to the regular season, but the move is a definite."

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com