What a terrific job done by the replacement officials! They are really starting to come around! And no, of course I’m not serious. But, that being said, it bears mentioning the following, which I have already mentioned before. They’re really not doing any worse than the regulars. Sure, they’ve had some embarrassing and highly publicized gaffes. The thing is, when these guys screw up, everyone is all over it, blowing it out of proportion and making it front page news. When the regular guys screwed up, it was just… well, a human screw up.
Let’s take last night’s game between New England and Baltimore. Early on, there was some rough play and after-the-whistle activity that wasn’t called. That was a mistake, but not necessarily one that isn’t overcomeable. Late on, there were two critical plays: a Joe Flacco bomb down the side line in which the Pats were called for pass interference inside their own ten, and the game winning field goal which was extraordinarily close to the upright, but called good. The refs got both calls right. Nothing they did in this game affected the outcome the wrong way. But nobody is talking about that.
The Problem: Roger Goodell is pansy. A narcissist. A megalomaniac. A hypocrite. Players and coaches are hollering about player safety being at risk. Newsflash, it’s football. Player safety is always at risk. However, if you’re saying that the players might be taking liberties with the replacement referees and playing dirty in a way they think they can get away with, that is the easiest fix in the world. Make an announcement. All 15 yard penalties will be sent to the league office for review. If it’s deemed that the play was intentionally dirty, both the player and head coach will be subject to a $100,000 fine. Done.
But Torsten, you say. What about all the calls the refs are missing? Well, if you are a team president or coach or GM, and you think the other team has taken liberties with your players, send video to the league office for review. If it’s deemed that the play, flagged or unflagged, was intentionally dirty, both player and coach are subject to a $100,000 fine.
See where I’m going with this? You can take it further and tack on suspensions. Or how about this? Take a Scarlet Letter approach and make multiple offenders wear a big red D on their helmets so the refs know who to keep an eye on.
Regardless of what you do, stop blaming the refs entirely. Until Goodell shows some backbone, nothing is gonna get better.
Homer Corner: Speaking of football and dirty hits, here’s a way coaches can help. Even though Jeff Fisher has gotten the reputation of being a dirty coach and advocating dirty play, even he had to cringe at Mario Haggan’s completely unnecessary personal foul on the Chicago Bears punter on Sunday. It cost the Rams a defensive stop, and led to a Chicago field goal. If Fisher really is intent on turning this franchise around, cutting Haggan on the spot would have been a good start. Right there. On the field. Clean out your locker, son. You’re done. Haggan is an okay player, but not a star. Clearly, he’s also a moron. Cut him.
More on Fisher and how he is quickly showing that he is merely pedestrian as a coach (still a huge upgrade over the previous regime) and how the exact opposite is being seen in New Orleans. For now, back to my day job.