Rookies make mistakes
There is no question officiating has been a little off this preseason. How couldn't it be? The NFL has replaced the men who were the absolute best in the world at what they do with officials who have experience only at the college, high school or Arena League levels.
What's more these replacement officials are facing a learning curve. This is all new to them. They are going to make mistakes just like rookie players make mistakes. They will need to get accustomed to the speed of the game, the magnitude of the NFL and the quirks of different assignments. They should improve eventually.
But even after all that, it's still likely very few of them will be as good as the men they replaced.
Only going to get worse
Los Angeles Times
The officiating is bad now, and it's only going to get worse. Remember, these exhibition games are glorified scrimmages with little at stake for teams. Wait until the games count and the speed increases.
The NFL is asking that the replacement officials show up 31/2 hours before kickoff — an hour earlier than officials typically arrive — so they can receive extra training from supervisors on rudimentary aspects such as where to stand and how to conduct the coin toss.
The NFL has instructed teams and coaches not to criticize the replacements, something that will be hard to enforce when the games actually matter. The scrutiny, pressure and mistakes are only going to get worse if this labor crisis carries into the regular season.
Looked bad in Baltimore
Can't speak for the entire NFL, but there certainly was a marked difference in Baltimore on Friday night, when the Ravens hosted the Lions. If they had attached sparklers to the penalty flags, they could have had the first-ever in-game fireworks show.
The pace of the game slowed to a crawl and just about every exciting play was called back, prompting several postgame complaints from the players. Fortunately, it was only an exhibition game and the replacement refs (most of whom have extensive college experience) could be forgiven for not being in NFL game shape after working together for just one previous game, but it didn't look very good.
NFL needs to resolve this
Do the real NFL zebras make their share of bonehead mistakes? Sure they do.
But they look practically infallible compared to these replacement officials we've been seeing this preseason.
Sean Smith barely breathed on Steve Smith the other night in Carolina and still had a rare interception taken away.
Faulty spots. Poor rules interpretations. Endless conferences.
All of it should be enough to convince the NFL to make the best deal it can with its regular officials. Heck, the league should swallow hard and give the zebras the $3 million or so in salary and benefits that's keeping them on the sidelines.
Anything to keep this travesty from marring the real games.