The NFL is moving at a faster pace, and the league realizes its officials need to keep up.
More teams are playing an up-tempo style on offense, highlighted by Eagles coach Chip Kelly, who was in his first NFL season last year. At the annual NFL officials clinic, officials went through a "a more physical assessment" than ever before, NFL Network's Jeff Darlington said on "NFL Total Access." The message was that refs need to get in tip-top shape to keep up (Ed Hochuli just flexed and said said, "Oh, I know you're not talkin' about me!").
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Although Kelly is far from the only coach who doesn't like to huddle up (Philadelphia ranked just 13th in the NFL in number of offensive plays last season), he's the one who NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent name-dropped when talking about the officials being in great physical condition.
"As the game evolves we also must make sure that the third team, which is the officials, they're evoloving as well," Vincent told NFL Network. "You see the likes of Coach Kelly and that high-tempo offense. They're running rapid plays and the ball needs to be spotted rapidly. We want to make sure that our officials are also evolving to that pace of our game."
It makes sense, because the NFL doesn't want up-tempo teams to be slowed down just because the officials are winded. Usually NFL officials are in pretty good shape ("Darn right," Hochuli just said, I'm sure) because it's nearly impossible to run around on the field during a professional football game and not be in good shape. But the league is going to give them a little extra push, to make sure they can keep up with an increasingly faster game.
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