Tag Archives: replacement referees

Just How Bad Did Roger Goodell and The NFL Screw Up?

Finally the NFL did what was right.

Finally Commissioner Roger Goodell practiced what he preached.

And finally, the real referees will return to their jobs.

It took a national televised debacle, one the likes the NFL has never seen before, to end the stalemate between the NFL and the league’s referees.

That now infamous play has changed this NFL season forever.

The Packers are 1-2, tied for last in the NFC North instead of being 2-1 and tied for first place. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are 2-1 and in position to make a run at the postseason.

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One referee signaled touchdown while the other referee signaled timeout, which usually happens after an interception.

For the NFL and Goodell, it can’t get any worse. Their refusal to budge and send competent referees to the job has altered the seasons of the both of these teams, and the entire playoffs. Now the league has to hope that both the Packers and the Seahawks miss the playoffs by more than one game so that playoff spots, playoff seedings and home field advantages aren’t impacted. If not, then the whole season has been tainted and compromised by referee mishaps.

While that stain on the season has a chance to fade, the stain on Roger Goodell’s legacy is permanent.

Goodell, commissioner since 2006, built his reputation on protecting the integrity of the league and making player safety a cornerstone of rule changes. He delivered heavy punishments to players like Adam “Pacman” Jones and the Michael Vick for disgracing the game. He instilled rules that banned late hits on the quarterback, head-to-head hits and the hitting a player up high.

However Goodell’s decision to allow heavily outmatched replacement officials to referee NFL games went against both of those principles.

By not putting the highest quality of officials on the field, Goodell disgraced the reputation of the game and allowed the failures of those officials to make the league a laughing matter on television networks nationwide.

The replacement referees weren’t even from the highest level of college. Rather they from non-BCS conferences in Division 1, lower college divisions, junior colleges and high school.

Aside their overuse of pass interference penalties though, the replacement referees penalties called relatively the same amount of penalties as the actual referees did up until this point in 2011.

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Hines Ward has some competition for league’s dirtiest offensive player…

Instead, the problem was their inability to control the game. From numerous after-the-play cheap shots to unnecessary player scrums, control was far from the norm.

Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III told the media that St. Louis Rams defenders hit him several times after the play ended. Video evidence confirmed his remarks.

In week two, Golden Tate delivered a vicious hit on a defenseless player while his quarterback broke the pocket to run the ball. Tate, who wasn’t flagged, should have been called for block-in-the-back. A week later, Tate pushed a defenseless Green Bay defender on the final play on Monday Night’s game.

In all these situations, player safety remained second to Goodell and the league’s dispute with the regular referees. Luckily no player was seriously injured.

The replacement referees put the NFL players’ safety in danger, and Goodell and the league allowed that to happen.

This weekend the regular referees will take over but the damage has been done.

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What We Learned from Week 1

With a week of NFL action under our belts, what better time is there to make some hasty generalizations about the rest of the season.

1. It’s going to take more than Andrew Luck to turn the Colts around.

Andrew Luck can’t save the Colts from the ground.

After two years of being hyped as the greatest quarterback prospect since John Elway, Luck showed on Sunday that his hype doesn’t mean he’s a finished product. He didn’t dazzle in his debut, tossing 3 interceptions to just 1 touchdown, but he still played a fairly solid game, passing for over 300 yards. Some of the blame for Luck’s shakiness can be shifted from his shoulders to those of his offensive line. While he was only sacked 3 times, Luck was constantly under pressure and forced into quick throws. Combine that with a lackluster group of receivers and a rebuilding defense and it’s clear that it may be another year until Luck is labeled a savior.

2. It’s going to take more than a great offense to win this year.

Three of last year’s top scoring teams – the Saints, Packers and Giants – came out on the losing end this week, unable to keep their opponents’ offenses at bay. What makes this cause for concern is that none of the teams they faced were amongst the leading offenses a year ago. If their defenses can’t contain the opposing team, it won’t matter how how many points New Orleans, Green Bay and New York can put up.

3. Don’t bet too heavily on young QBs.

Andy Dalton, Russell Wilson, Brandon Weeden, Andrew Luck, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Tannehill and Cam Newton – all first or second year starters –  all lost their games and few of them were overly impressive. The eight of them combined for 6 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Apart from Weeden and Tannehill, none of them were terrible, but they didn’t look like quarterbacks who could lead their teams to the playoffs. On a brighter note, Robert Griffin III was arguably the best quarterback in the league in week one in the Redskins win over the Saints and Christian Ponder was able to lead his Vikings to an overtime win over the Jaguars. Even so, this large group of young QBs look very much like a work in progress.

4. If the Broncos could win with Tebow last year, they look awfully scary with Peyton at the helm.

Peyton Manning with the Broncos – so wrong, yet so right.

Manning commanded the Denver offense as if it had been a week since his last game, not a year and a half. He was his usual self – minus the blue and white uniform – changing plays at the line of scrimmage, making smart decisions and throwing with accuracy. If his neck was bothering him, he didn’t show it. He was able to handle the Steelers without resorting to an overtime Hail Mary to beat them.

5. ACLs, who needs ’em?

Coming off of torn ACLs last season, running backs Adrian Peterson and Jamal Charles both looked back to (or at least close to) normal. Peterson ran for 84 yards and 2 touchdowns while Charles ran for 87 yards. Not quite the hundred yard masterpieces we’re used to from the two of them, but the both averaged just about 5 yards a carry, which any running back should be happy with.

6. Were the Jets trolling us in the preseason?

After failing to score a touchdown in all three preseason games that their starters played in (and just one with the reserves playing) the Jets opened their season by dropping 48 on the Bills who supposedly improved their defense in the offseason. Mark Sanchez threw for 3 touchdowns, ending any discussion over whether Tebow should start instead of him. New York’s defense was less stout than normal, but if it returns to form and the offense continues to play well, this could finally be the year Rex Ryan’s Super Bowl promise comes true.

7. There’s a reason replacement refs are only used as replacements.

It’s said that you don’t realize what you had until it’s gone. Well the regular referees have driven that point home quite well during their lockout. Their replacements looked incompetent, confused, and uncertain in week one. There were penalties assigned to the wrong team, extra timeouts handed out, two minute warnings interrupting PATs, blown calls, missed calls, you name it. The NFL’s regular officiating crew make mistakes every game too, but the frequency and potential severity of the replacement refs’ flubs nearly marred an exciting opening weekend of football. Having unqualified officials call a game is unfair to players and fans alike, especially given the short NFL season in which every game is important. Hopefully the NFL and the locked out refs can come to an agreement soon.

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