The video above is from the Thursday night game between the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts. It has also been placed in our ever-expanding "What the [BLEEP] is roughing the passer anymore, anyway?" file. Explain yourself, Jerome Boger, for you are one of the worst officials in football and you have been for some time. Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt would like an answer as well. As would suddenly embattled head coach Gary Kubiak, who addressed the penalties against the Texans at his Friday press conference.
"I don't know where to start," the coach said. "Penalties and turnovers get you beat in this League and last night, we had a little bit of both. We still turned the ball over twice. We did get one back, but we have to address it from a two turnover standpoint because it's been a problem. Eleven penalties, obviously I don't agree with all of them, but that's neither here nor there. Our job's to keep playing and play through mistakes and play through issues. We had our chances to do that and we didn't do it. We'll turn them into the league. We got to make sure we're on the same page because a few of those we just don't understand why they were roughing calls. I'll wait to hear back from the League and we'll make sure we address it as a group and players take responsibility for it and coaches and move forward."
As we've discussed ad nauseam in previous posts, it's a bit tough to get a sense from the league just what comprises roughing the passer at this point when the league's own guidelines appear to change with the wind. Watt seemed to have a target on his back in the game, which Kubiak also addressed.
"Well, yeah, you talk to guys. Let me tell you, you turn on the film and this kid played one hell of a football game. Unbelievable game. If we're right on a couple of those, then it got even better. If we're wrong, then we've gotta make those corrections so it doesn't happen again. But just don't understand a couple ways that it happened, us understanding the rules and the way they were called. But it can't happen. You can't have penalties and there's no excuse for them. But at the same time, the kid deserves a lot of credit for the football game he played. It was off the charts, now. He's been a big-time player all year long and he plays with great energy. Obviously, we've got to fix penalties."
Fix what? When you don't know what to fix, it's awfully tough to do.
"No matter how they happen, you can't get penalties," Watt told ESPN's Paul Kuharsky after a game in which he bagged one sack, two tackles for loss and three batted passes — and at least one more questionable penalty. "They were called. That's all I can say. The penalties were called, you can't argue with the referee and we've got to move forward."
Coaches and players have to be careful what they say about officiating these days, lest they be perceived to be on the wrong side of whatever it is the NFL is trying to do with player safety. But we'll say it outright — if there's one thing that typifies the "ready, fire, aim!" ethos of Roger Goodell's reign as Commissioner, it's a level of officiating that is all too frequently confusing, inexcusable, insufficiently explained, and maddeningly inconsistent. The Texans are but the most recent victims.