Every week, there's a new officiating controversy in the NFL.
The latest comes from Detroit. On Monday night against the Ravens, Lions receiver Kris Durham had his arm held on a pass to the end zone, and the officials missed the pass interference call. Instead of having the ball on the 1-yard line, the Lions settled for a field goal. They lost 18-16 on a Ravens field goal in the final minute. The difference between winning and losing, which might have flipped had the officials not missed the pass interference call, might be the difference between the Lions hosting a playoff game as division champions or Detroit missing the playoffs.
NBC Sports Network's Shaun King argued that NFL officiating is at its all-time low.
"This has been by far the worst officiated National Football League season in the history of the National Football League," King said on NBC Sports Network's "SportsDash" show. "I really think the replacement refs were doing a better job some time."
I disagree with that (which isn't new for Shaun and I). The current officials might miss some calls, but the replacement refs were incompetent. They couldn't tell the difference between an interception and a touchdown. Their mistakes might have fundamentally changed the outcome of the entire 2012-13 NFL season.
The current officials haven't gotten to that point.
But King's follow-up comment did make sense.
"I don't think the officials are capable of handling the speed of the game and consistently making accurate, correct calls," King said. "We have technology that is in place we didn't have available before – they should utilize it."
If you've ever been on the sideline of a NFL game, you know what he means.
An NFL game moves incredibly fast. It's hard to follow the action and it's almost impossible to ask even the best officials in the world (and it's hard to argue they're not the best ... if you disagree, remember, we saw the alternative just last year) to keep up with everything. There's no real reason why coaches shouldn't be allowed to challenge anything.
Moving the replay review to a centralized location, like the NHL does for its reviews, would make the process much more efficient. That would allow the league to give the coaches one more challenge but not lengthen the game.
It would also help get more calls right, and isn't that the point?
The increased criticism of the officiating (don't we deal with this every season? Seems that way) might cause the NFL to act. There are legitimate issues and easy fixes in place. It might be too late for teams like the 2013 Lions, but some changes might help prevent other teams from feeling like they got games taken from them on bad calls.
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