It's been a rough year for NFL officials, and things arguably hit rock bottom on Monday night when the officiating crew in the Lions-Packers game blew multiple big calls that ended up costing Detroit a chance of winning.
During Green Bay's 23-22 win, there were several questionable calls in the game that went against Detroit, with the two biggest ones coming late in the fourth quarter when Lions pass rusher Trey Flowers was called for illegal hands to the face on two separate plays. There was also a no-call on a play where a Packers defender probably should've been flagged for pass interference on Lions receiver Marvin Jones.
With NFL officials struggling every week, former referee John Parry thinks one solution could potentially go a long way toward fixing the league's officiating problem: the sky judge.
Parry, who served as the referee in Super Bowl LIII, thinks it's time for the NFL to implement the sky judge, which was used by the Alliance of American Football before the league folded earlier this year.
"Let's embrace technology," Parry said on ESPN earlier this week, via Pro Football Talk. "I was not for a sky judge weeks ago. At this point, I think we have to embrace technology and we have to find a way to fix the egregious error."
Before the season started, Parry wanted no part of the sky judge system, which would call for an extra official at each stadium to watch the game. That official would then have the power to buzz down to the ref to overturn an egregious error (like the call on Flowers). The official would also make sure that a flag is thrown on plays where the officiating crew might have missed a penalty (like the pass interference call from the NFC title game).
"Initially, I would've said I didn't like [the sky judge], because I think we would've struggled to find 17 people who can do that job really, really well, [but] It's been a tough six weeks, it's tough to watch, especially when it's your profession," Parry said during an appearance on ESPN's Golic and Wingo. "The game right now is being impacted by it. The misses, and its not so much the smaller ones, not that there's any good miss, but it's the egregious misses that we've seen week in and week out."
Parry actually has a theory on why NFL officiating has seemingly gotten worse over the years, and it has to do with all the young officials. The NFLover the past two years -- including Parry, who retired in April to join ESPN as an analyst -- and those refs have been replaced by younger guys who just aren't ready for the speed of the NFL.
"I had 18 years of experience before I got in the [NFL]. We have officials who are joining the league with six, seven, eight years total," Parry said. "I can tell you when I transitioned from the Big Ten in 1999 to the NFL in 2000, I was terrible. I didn't think I'd make it. It took me two to three years, I was missing so many things, I just couldn't process the speed."
With the NFL hiring new officials with less experience, Parry said mistakes are going to come with the territory.
"It took three to four years to get confident, to be able to slow the speed down, to be able to process it," Parry said. "We have a group of officials, they're going to need to time, they're going to make mistakes based on the amount of experience that they're coming into the league with."
Parry also mentioned that the game has gotten so fast that it's tough for older officials to keep up.
"Not to bring up age, but the game does become difficult and the game doesn't process as well when you age," Parry said.
The sky judge isn't a perfect solution, but it would definitely go a long way toward fixing the NFL's officiating problems. CBSSports.com's Will Brinson is also in favor of a sky judge and he wrote. Brinson also hosts the Pick Six Podcast and we spent some time this week complaining about officials and why implementing the sky judge system would actually make some sense. You can listen to that part of the podcast below.