Since the regular season started, the one hot topic of conversation in the NFL has been the job done by the replacement officials. Players are starting to get in on the verbal assaults following several blunders in Week 2.
As everyone is well aware, the league locked out the regular officials after their union contract expired. There have been a few times when it looked like a deal could be consummated, but things keep falling apart.
Replacement officials were always going to have a thankless job, but now that we have seen a lot of their work, it is safe to say that something needs to be done soon.
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who is no stranger to impassioned speeches, spoke to reporters after the team's loss to Philadelphia in Week 2 about the need to get the regular officials back (via Comcast SportsNet Baltimore).
The game is played the way the game is played. But there are some serious calls the refs missed. And it's just the way it is, man. All around the league, you know, and...for our league to be what it is, we have to correct that.
Joe Flacco, Lewis' teammate, laid into the replacement officials after the game was over for some of the calls and non-calls that happened in the game.
I think those guys were on us tight like that the whole game and there was a lot of holding and grabbing going on … for them to make that (offensive pass interference) call was kind of crazy. He didn't even throw a flag. He threw a blue beanie and then put his hands in the air like offensive pass interference...I mean, come on.
Lest you think it was just the Ravens who were upset, Scott Fujita of the Cleveland Browns took to Twitter to tell the world why the replacement referees are struggling with the games.
Missed calls & bad calls are going to happen. That's part of the deal & we can all live with it. But not knowing all the rules...— Scott Fujita (@scottfujita99) September 17, 2012
...and major procedural errors (like allowing the clock to run after an incomplete pass) are completely unacceptable. Enough already.— Scott Fujita (@scottfujita99) September 17, 2012
That seems to be the consensus for what these officials are doing wrong. They have a general idea of football rules, but they don't have a grasp of the NFL game and seem intimidated by the stage.
Some are too quick to throw a flag, then when they throw it, they want to validate the call even if they are wrong. Others will keep the flag in their pocket just because they are too timid to make the call.
Mike Pereira, who works for Fox Sports and is the former vice president of officiating, caused quite a stir on Sunday night when he posted this on Twitter.
I'm officially over it. The regular refs need to get back on the field. Enough is enough.— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) September 16, 2012
What Grade Would You Give The Replacement Refs?
You can't even say that the replacement officials are being judged too harshly, because they are becoming part of the story. In any sport, not just the NFL, if an official or umpire becomes involved in the postgame discussion, you know there is something wrong.
These officials are changing the way that the game is played, which makes it difficult for both teams to know what is going to happen, when penalties are going to be called, etc.
New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (via New York Post) called the referees into question for the lack of flags on holding penalties, though he did sort of defend them.
If they’re not going to call holding, you’ve got to find another way to get there. The replacement refs, you never know what calls you’re going to get, so you just go out there and handle your job...They’re not going to call every single thing, they’re looking for the most particular thing. That’s probably what they’ve been taught. You can’t blame them.
A lot of stories and articles are going to be written about what the replacement referees are doing wrong, and there are a laundry list of calls or non-calls you could mention. But it's not going to solve the bigger problem.
Until the NFL and referees' union get together to iron out their differences, it doesn't matter what you write. These replacements are here to stay.