It’s been a rough couple of weeks for NFL officials.
The coaches are angry, from Super Bowl winners Bill Belichick and Mike Shanahan to the not quite as successful Bruce Arians and Mike Munchak.
Fans are upset, too, about calls they see and don’t see, explanations they get but don’t understand. Commentators are even wondering if the replacement officials have returned to the NFL.
Flags fly and everyone wonders why. Flags don’t fly and everyone wonders why _ but even more loudly.
Mike Tomlin doesn’t get penalized for impeding an opponent’s kick return. But the next week, the NFL fines him $100,000 and admits a flag should have been thrown.
The down markers and chains are moved when they shouldn’t be in the final moments of Washington’s home game against the Giants. The NFL says the next day that play should have been stopped to correct the error, which was confusing and somewhat costly to the Redskins.
Cardinals coach Arians mentions “obviously very, very many problems” with the officiating in a 24-21 loss at Philadelphia and says he sent “about 15 plays” to the NFL for review by Dean Blandino, vice president of officiating.
Belichick, who was fined $50,000 last year for bumping into an official, suggests giving coaches more freedom to challenge calls, even offside or holding.
“I don’t see anything wrong with the concept of, `You can challenge any two plays you want.’ I understand that judgment calls are judgment calls,” he says. “But to say that an important play can’t be reviewed, I don’t think that’s really in the spirit of, `Let’s try to get everything right and make sure that the most important plays are officiated properly.’”
He added, “It’s kind of confusing for me as to which plays are and which plays aren’t challengeable.”
This from perhaps the most prepared coach in the sport.
Most worrisome is the perception that officials either aren’t in control of the game, or they are having too much impact while making incorrect calls. Criticism ranges from TV announcers wondering if the officiating crews know the rules to players believing officials have carte blanche _ they don’t get flagged for their own mistakes.
Redskins receiver Santana Moss, who took issue with a holding call Sunday night and was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, couldn’t be more down on the officials.
“It’s probably been worse this whole year as a total,” the 13-year veteran says. “Not just this team, but I’ve watched a lot of football this year, it’s been the worst that I’ve ever seen.
“I understand so many things being changed, but at the end of the day, some of that stuff is crap. So hopefully somebody who’s in a higher position will really watch this season alone, and then see some of the stuff that’s being called and haven’t been called, they can go and try to critique that.”