For the most part, the Giants have been diplomatic about the replacement officials, although they have as much of a right as any team to complain.
The defensive line trio of Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora has only one sack between them. Think offenses might be getting away with some holding? And then there's the clutching and grabbing against receivers like Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks.
Cruz, for instance, said the regular officials would have called interference against the Dallas Cowboys defense on the pass he dropped in the end zone in Week 1. (Cruz was being hit in the back before the ball arrived.)
The Giants defensive players have some real thoughts on the subject of the replacement officials, and they don't think it is fair to say it is OK to wait for them to learn the ropes.
“Player safety,” strongside linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka said. “That, I think, has to be the most important thing.”
Kiwanuka believes more injuries are “inevitable” as long as players don't know how the referees are going to call the game. He acknowledged that he's not concerned with the occasional missed holding call.
Tuck agreed, saying even “the regular guys” are “going to miss some calls.”
Tuck wasn't as diplomatic about the holding, or non-holding calls, but his main message is that he wants consistency. Even when calls do favor the defense, he said, there's really no rhyme or reason to the decision.
“I have seen pass interference -- and I am a defensive player -- at a high rate that hasn't been called,” Tuck said.
There has also been talk that players have been intimidating the replacement refs, but Kiwanuka doesn't agree.
“I don't think so,” he said. “They're human. Even the regular referees are human. When you go to an official and say ‘Hey, watch the holding,' maybe it doesn't get the attention as much as if you're adamant about it when you go over there. So I don't think it's an intimidation issue.”
The answer to the problem won't come from patience, Tuck said. The only real solution is to get the top professionals in the business back on the field as soon as possible, which is why he places the blame squarely on the league.
“I think all the success that this league is having, you don't want this to be a damper,” Tuck said. “I think the replacement referee situation can start to put a damper on the league in some way.”