We need to put this situation with the NFL officials to bed quickly…period.
By saying that I’m not suggesting that the league needs to cave into the demands of the referees’ union (although that’s what I have been saying all along). What I am suggesting is that the players need to forget that the officials on the field are replacements and just play ball. Until further notice the replacement officials are the officials and no amount of whining, complaining or otherwise is going to change that. Funny that for all of the complaining that the players, players union etc have done regarding the replacement officials, the one thing we haven’t heard from them is a willingness make up the difference and help bridge the gap that exists between what the refs want and what the league is offering.
Officiating is pretty easy to judge no matter who’s doing it. When your team wins a close game the referees were great (or at least competent) and when your team loses a close game the refs were incompetent. Let’s not start trying to paint some overly romantic, revisionist history portrait of the officials that aren’t there as if we had any respect for them or their calls while they were.
Being new, it’s a certainty that officials are going to have growing pains. Of course they’ll be slower. And since everyone is aware that they’re replacements everyone is on high alert for their mistakes and deficiencies. Game announcers are looking for mistakes to point out and players are constantly barking at our about the replacement officials any time the action in the game isn’t going their way.
It’s become the norm that after any NFL game decided by a small margin, the referees will be taken to task. We as fans have grown to expect it. We expect it on talk radio, on Twitter, on the message boards and on the highlight shows. We didn’t however expect it from the players in the locker room before this season…not if they wanted to keep their full game checks that is.
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I agreed with everything the officials did in the Ravens game against the Eagles on Sunday (far from it actually). But I never agree with everything the officials do when the Ravens lose a close one. Remember the Terrell Suggs “head slap” on Kerry Collins a few years ago? Remember the Torrey Smith holding call against the Steelers last year on a would-be Ray Rice TD?
That said, I’m also not going to sit here and pretend that I’m not more concerned (far more concerned in fact) with the players’ insinuations during and after the game that the referees had somehow cost them the game or had it out for them. Remember Bart Scott’s penalty flag toss into the stands against the Patriots in 2007? Bad call…perhaps. Indication that a team was set to melt down…absolutely.
Here are 5 non-officiating related reasons why the Ravens lost to the Eagles on Sunday:
1. The offensive line couldn’t stop the pass rush
Joe Flacco was forced to throw under duress for the majority of the night. Maybe it was the Ravens abandonment of the hurry-up that has served them so well through the pre-season and in week one, or maybe the Eagles just have real talent at rushing the passer. Whatever the cause, the Ravens offensive line couldn’t hold off the Philly rush and the result was a stagnant offense. The Eagles made the offensive line of the Ravens on Sunday look like what we feared they would be, makeshift and patchwork. Meanwhile Philly down to their only 5 healthy offensive linemen did a marvelous job of keeping the pass rush away from Michael Vick, particularly in the second half.