After another officiating blunder in a high-profile game – this time it came during Monday night’s Patriots/Bills AFC East showdown – NFL officiating is under the microscope now more than ever. From missed calls to inadvertent whistles to flat-out not knowing the rule book, it’s been a comedy of errors for the NFL season.
Is NFL officiating at an all-time low, or is there simply a bigger outcry due to social media?
“Well, I think it’s probably magnified because it’s been in the games that everybody’s watching,” CBSSports.com NFL insider Jason La Canfora told Damon Amendolara, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “If it was just limited to that Jags/Ravens game where they completely blew the ending of that – it’s two crappy games, it’s not going to affect the playoffs, there were seven other 1 o’clock games going on at the time – then that’s one thing. But when it repeatedly happens on Monday-night games and Sunday-night games and games that could have playoff impact and teams’ seasons are on the line and it’s the same crews over and over – (it’s a problem). And the league sort of ramps it up by suspending a dude. So that’s pretty rare. Changing people’s assignments with regularity and coming down harder on these guys in season, yeah, I think we’re more aware of it. There’s a social media component. It’s happening in games everybody sees, so it magnifies things.”
La Canfora sees change – and possibly a lot of it – coming this offseason.
“Something is coming,” he said. “The competition committee meetings this spring – they’re going to be very active, there’s going to be a lot of vocal people and there’s going to be a ton of proposals made. At the ever least, replay is going to be expanded. I really think the movement of full-time officials just may begin in earnest in a way we’ve never seen before . . . (because) they need help. It’s clear they need help. So I think the first step is expanding the safety net. I don’t think we have to go Big Brother 24/7 (where) everything is reviewable, but maybe coaches get an extra challenge. Maybe more (plays) are reviewable and we also expand the ability for the central system in New York to step in and in some cases – like the back-of-the-end-zone play with the Detroit/Seattle game – step in and say, ‘You know what? You guys did miss that.’ They need to be able to at least nudge those guys to correct calls when necessary in more instances than they can right now.”