The Umpire in The Backfield Is Killing The Best Offenses in the NFL

Dave AuerbachContributor IAugust 27, 2010

DENVER - AUGUST 21:  (L-R) Referee Ed Hochuli talks with umpire Chad Brown as they oversee the action between the Denver Broncos and the Detroit Lions during preseason NFL action at INVESCO Field at Mile High on August 21, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Lions defeated the Broncos 25-20.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

With the NFL entering into the third week of the preseason, every team is sending out their first team offense in order to get a complete look of the team as a fully functioning unit. 

When it comes to  like the Colts and the Saints, two of the most efficient and high powered offensive units in the NFL, getting set is simple, and snapping the ball requires minimal scrambling.

Now that the league has changed the placement of the Umpire on the field, it has put a huge damper on the game as we know it currently.  Teams with fast moving, organized offenses like Manning's Colts and Brees' Saints are known for being so dangerous because they are able to set up and get the ball snapped before most defenses can get a proper read on what they are going to do.  This is what gives them the offensive edge and has made them the dominant teams they've been over the past few years or in the case of Peyton Manning, the past decade.

While the placement of the Umpire in the offensive backfield is more of a precaution to prevent the officials from getting injured, it has put a very big hold on the game.  The Umpire used to set up in the middle of the defensive unit, just behind the linebackers.  Due to the fact that players were using the officials as "picks" or decoys to cause a distraction for defensive players to run into, the rules were adjusted to help keep the officials out of harm's way and still keep the game fair.

I believe a majority of coaches, NFL analysts, and hardcore fans expected this to have an impact on the amount of offensive holding calls that are flagged.  Let's face it, there is holding on every play, you just have to be around to notice it.  What alot of people never expected was that this was going to take away from the quality of the game as we know it. 

Now I can understand if the play might be called as a do-over, or even as a dead play and reset.  However, if the QB and offense are set and ready to go, but the Umpire is not in his set spot to view the play, the QB is flagged for an Illegal Snap call and it's a five yard penalty against the offense. 

Now think about how this looks. 

You have an official that is not athletic enough or just can't seem to gather his placement on the field to get out of the play on time, hindering the speed of the game that is dictated by the situation. Is the offense is supposed to suffer because of the referee's mistake?  I don't know about you, but I can't see that being fair at all. I know the NFL is sometimes joked as being called the "No Fun League," but this takes it to a new level. 

There needs to be an amendment to this rule.  The officials need to gather a way to get the ball set and get out of the way in a timely order.  With most teams running into a "Hurry-Up Offense" in the final two minutes of the half or final two minutes of the game, these penalties can effective disrupt the outcome of a game.  I'm sure the Commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, will not like hearing that due to the lack of athleticism of the officials, it changed the outcome of a game because of an unnecessary penalty. 

This needs to be fixed now.  If this carries over into the 2010 regular season, something as small but as disrupting as this can change the outlook on how alot of teams now approach each game.  No one ever likes to hear that their team lost a game because the official wasn't able to get out of the way in time and it cost their team's offense 5 yards.  Former NFL VP of Officiating Mike Pereira used to say that he wanted the players and the game to determine the outcome, not the officials.  Let's get back to that before it ruins some crucial moments in football.

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