Officials in the NFL rarely hold themselves accountable, so it’s my job to do it for them
Mistakes are natural. In a tumultuous time, where almost each and every football fan is watching from home, those errors are highlighted even more than usual. Unlike the NBA, which releases a two-minute report that occasionally disagrees with the controversial officiating decisions at hand, NFL referees deal with nothing of the sort, despite Gene Steratore’s best intentions on your weekly CBS broadcast.
Bad calls, of course, vary in importance. They almost always send us sprawling from our couch to the floor, but infrequently impact the actual outcome of games. Week 1 gave us a little bit of both, mixed with an unpleasant reminder that officials aren’t perfect, and we ought to expect inadequacies game-over-game. It’s not bias, it’s just the human element.
Honorable mention: Lions linebacker Jamie Collins was ejected for a “head-butt” of an official, but can we really call it that? Collins barely made contact and only did so playfully, but touching a referee is technically against the rules and warrants an immediate ejection. That’s not on the officiating, but the rule itself, and frankly was a dumb move by a veteran player who ought to know better.
Honorable mention x2: AJ Green’s OPI. Two offensive pass interference penalties had immediate consequences this week, with the Bengals getting burned worst of all. Unfortunately for Green, though, the replay does show him making contact with a Chargers defensive back. It wasn’t much and wasn’t fully unnecessary, and the officiating crew opted to make the call regardless of the time left on the clock. It’s in their job description.
1. Failing to protect the quarterback
Much of the emphasis in the modern NFL is to protect the quarterback at all cost. After all, in today’s passing-inclined league, a team is nothing without a competent signal-caller. Often, officials can find themselves on the wrong side of this issue, calling the lightest of contact a personal foul and costing a defense already on the ropes 15 yards in the process. Defending the pass in the modern NFL is an art form. Teaching defensive lineman how to tackle is as well. There’s a small window that’s deemed acceptable, and it requires bend, flexibility and correct form on the part of the player.
Why, then, was this allowed to slide on Sunday Night Football?
Goff was hit in the head by Trysten Hill. Sure, he’s not Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes, but Goff deserves just as much protection as his multi-million dollar brethren. An arm to the face isn’t enough to give Goff a concussion, but it sets a precedent in that game that contact above the shoulders against the former No. 1 overall pick will be tolerated. In the end, the Rams won the game. But every call has consequences.