As I reflect on this past week of NFL football, game after game, lead change after lead change, and play after play, I am left thinking one thing about the NFL this year; these refs are about as useless as the Houston Rockets in China (too soon?), aka they stink, aka they’re turrible, aka I’d rather have robots doing the job because there is no way they would be as bad as what we have now.
I get it, I get it…the NFL has become all about offense, all the rules favor the offense to the point that now you can challenge Pass Interference. Heaven forbid DBs can be physical with the walking pre-Madonna that is todays “superstar receiver” (I’m looking at you OBJ, we all know physical DBs own space in your head, e.g. Josh Norman). Not to mention the absurd “illegal use of hands to the face” that have been called recently e.g. see the two calls against the Detroit Lions DE, Trey Flowers, on week 6 Monday night football, the latter of which essentially gifted Green Bay an easy path to victory.
I digress; for the most part, fans have come to terms with this and, you could make the argument, many prefer to see these high scoring games over the slugfests that happened in years past. Personally, I like a mix of both, for context my favorite player of all time is Troy Polamalu if that tells you anything as to how I like to see defense played (yes, reckless and with no regard for human life). Fantasy football is now King and the main reason, scratch that, THE ONLY, reason you tune in to watch the Dolphins play a noon game is to see if the defense you picked up for this one week (solely because they are playing the Dolphins) and you hope they give you more than the defense you probably dropped for them, OR, to see how bad your WRs or RBs torch them if they are on the other side of the ball. Other than that, we can all agree to send the Dolphins off to London, or wherever it is that the NFL says that it wants to expand to, good riddance. Better thought; let’s just dissolve the Dolphins franchise altogether because they are beautiful majestic creatures and I don’t think that they should be held in captivity in any form, they should be completely free from any and all capitalistic societies.
Side note; can we take a moment and just admire the dumpster fire that is that division. 1. The Pats; who would probably win every year any ways (it truly is the “Patriot Way”) 2. The Jets…. need I say more? 3. The Bills; Bills mafia is great and all but up until this year you could basically go ahead and pencil in a win with them on the schedule for the week. And last and most least, the GOT DANG Dolphins, so yea, it’s not the toughest of divisions.
I can live with the league becoming more and more offensive driven, that’s not the problem, not even close. The problem is with how God-awful and inconsistent the officials have been in making the calls. It’s pathetic that you can be watching two separate games at the same time and a nearly identical play can happen on both and there is a good chance that a different call will be made in either game. The prime example this year, to me, centers around two “Roughing the Passer” calls in week 5…well, one was called, the other, a man only died, sooooooooo, no flag needed.
To get all of the biases out of the way, I am a Steelers fan, not the best year for us but no need to talk about that now. Week 5, mid-way through the 3rd quarter, down 17-13, Mason Rudolph was leading the Steelers on a drive when he escapes the pocket and tries to make a play. In the middle of his throwing motion, Earl Thomas (who had been in pursuit from the time Mason left the pocket) comes up and proceeds to put his helmet so far inside Mason Rudolph’s head he could probably hear his thoughts…no flag, WHHHHAAAAT?!? We literally witnessed Rudolph’s soul leave his body for a few seconds and the refs couldn’t be bothered to reach into their pockets and pull out a flag for fear of 100 Werther’s originals would fall out because I think the average age of an NFL official is about 73.6 years old (according to a few calculations I just made up and did in my head). After the play was over the camera pans over and you see Rudolph’s lifeless (not literally lifeless, just completely unconscious) body on the ground and not a hint of a flag on the field. To be fair, no amount of flags thrown where going to keep Rudolph in the game, he would’ve needed a NASCAR grade helmet to have save him and even then, I don’t know that that would’ve done the job. If you want to check out the play, look here.
That same day, only a few games later, Dak Prescott is playing against Green Bay IN DALLAS and slightly gets pushed out of the pocket and as he takes off to run, a defensive player for the Packers comes up and tries to make a play with his hands up to take away throwing lanes and taps Dak on the helmet as he slides out of the pocket. To me, I was more taken back to playing Duck Duck Goose and the defender was telling Dak he was it. He takes off downfield for about 15 yards and we see a flag was thrown back a the line of scrimmage. As anyone who has ever played Madden knows “there’s holding on every call its just a matter of whether or not they want to throw it” the computer simulated announcers say as they call back your 68 yard TD run from the play before. The ref walks to the middle of the field and…ROUGHING THE PASSER?!?! I couldn’t believe it. Take a look and decide for yourself here.
It’s no secret that the league favors the star players these days. Had the hit on Rudolph happened to Tom Brady I’m pretty sure that Earl Thomas would’ve been thrown in jail and fined for 2, 4, 8, or 16 games (depends on what the wheel behind Goodells desk lands on that he uses to decide the length of suspension to players). Granted if TB12 leaves the pocket at all he is going down as soon as he sees a defender come anywhere hear him, but you get my point.
Whatever way you want to look at it, the refs must get better. If Teddy Bruschi, Mr. Patriot Way himself, the holier than thou on all subjects within football, is willing to weigh in and tweet about how bad the officiating is then yeah, Houston, we have a problem.