No need for a clever or long intro here: the refs absolutely stink this year.
In the past, I would reserve that statement for bitter fans (myself included) looking for an excuse for why their team didn’t win. But in the more recent years, the performance of the referees has gotten worse and worse that their calls are the actual reason why teams lose.
It is safe to say that at some point this year every team has been jipped by the refs. It is something new each week. Throwing flags when there is nothing there and missing blatant infractions. It doesn’t even look like the crew is on the same page most of the time.
It is ruining the quality of the NFL product. The postgame discussion is not about the performance of the millionaire superstar athletes, but these controversial and incorrect calls. This leads to the ultimate practice of “whataboutism” (Yeah – they did miss that call against you, but did you see the call they got wrong for us three weeks ago!!!!) which leaves us all worse off.
It is time for some accountability.
Here are some ideas about where we can go from here:
1. Fire Al Riveron: the jabroni thinks he is above the NFL and is way too prideful to admit when he (or his refs) are wrong. Plain and simple.
2. Increase salaries and make NFL officiating a full time job only. In recent years, the NFL started adding more full-time officials. Last year, there were over thirty, but leading up to this season, the NFL ended this practice abruptly. Now every referee is back to being part time. The NFL did this as an obvious bargaining tactic with the NFL Referees Association as they have shown in the past (2012) that they are fine with compromising the quality of officiating and the game.
You get what you pay for. And we are seeing it here time and time again.
3. Create NFL school of officiating: Beyond compensation and benefits, the NFL needs to invest in training the referees. I’m envisioning a more indepth multi-year training program training to enhance the current referee’s abilities while training the next generation. Train the referees to hold the flags a little bit more.
4. Kill the new PI rule. This rule was idiotic from day one and it is setting everyone up for failure. It was developed based completely on the reactions and fallout of the NFC Championship game blunder and is a baseless half measure.
“Yeah we will review pass interference penalties because they have an impact on the game. But no, we will not do the same for other penalties like holdings or illegal blocks…because they don’t have an impact on the game”
Watching plays in super slowmo trying to find ticky tack contact between the receiver and DB is not doing any one good. Not to mention, it slows the game down and it’s been proven that the call on the field will stand most of the time.
5. Let’s use the amazing technology at our fingertips to make it easier for these guys. Or take it a step further and consider using the technology to replace refs. They will still be on the fields to be chaperones, but have a team offsite watching the game from every angle who will make all the calls. We have the resources – let’s use them.
6. Hold the refs accountable. I don’t think they should have to do press conferences. That will just make it uglier in my opinion.
But, they should have to answer and provide justification (or admittance of wrongdoing) for certain calls in WRITING. I think this medium is much better than video – sort of removes the emotions of the refs. Makes it less of an instrument for shame and more of an initiative for long-term improvement.
7. Let’s quantify how bad (or good) these guys are. We have advanced statistics and player grades each week. Let’s apply this same logic and algorithms for refs. I want to see who over the course of the year is performing well compared to who is missing a lot of calls. This could be a tool for judging referee performance to what the standard should be. Take it a step farther and say that only refs scoring above 85% (or whatever number) grade are eligible to officiate postseason games. Or tie it to the compensation of refs.
And while I doubt the NFL will do any of these things (excluding maybe killing the PI rule) because they are a monopoly and know we will never ever stop watching and paying, it is not wrong for us to hope for change.
And if change doesn’t happen…We hope refs screw over the other team and not us.
Regardless, here’s to hoping.