View Full Version : Penalties up this year league-wide

10-14-2005, 07:44 AM
Glad to see I am not the only one noticing referees are killing games this season. While I rarely agree completely with Prisco, this is one I wholeheartedly agree with.


Have you watched NFL games this year and come away from them thinking the officials are doing everything they can to get some television time?

There's more yellow on the ground these days than you see at Big Bird convention.

Flags have often overshadowed the action, as Jake Plummer knows.
And the flow of games is about as smooth as a Hollywood marriage.

It has to stop.

Through five weeks of the 2005 season, there's an average of 15.84 penalties accepted a game. That's up from the 14.50 in the first five weeks of games last season.

And more are being called, too. After four weeks -- the five-week data wasn't in -- 18.63 penalties were called per game, more than the 17.80 in the first four weeks last season.

All around the league, coaches are scratching their heads trying to figure out why there are more penalties being called.

It's even keeping some of them awake trying to find ways to end it, solitary figures in bed at 4 a.m. wondering how in the heck they can stop the madness as they watch the ceiling fan go round and round.

Miami Dolphins coach Nick Saban admitted he had a tough time sleeping Sunday night after his team was penalized 18 times in a loss to the Buffalo Bills. The Dolphins are on pace to draw 208 penalties, which would break Kansas City's season record of 158 set in 1998.

Like Saban, Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick had to be searching for answers after his team was flagged 21 times in a loss to the Detroit Lions.

Even easy-going Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy made reference to the penalties in his Monday news conference.

"No. 1, we had some penalties that we don't usually have," he said. "We've got to get that squared away. No. 2, we had an officiating crew that calls about 20-25 penalties a game whether there are that many to call or not. They tried to get to their average. There were some that were not penalties. There's no other way to explain it. It's disappointing for us. We don't like to have penalties. We try to put our bar at five a game. I doubt we had more than five in this game."

That was Dungy being nice about the officiating, which is what we expect from on-the-record quotes. When their name is not being used, coaches aren't nearly as nice.

That's when phrases like "flag happy" start getting tossed around. There's talk of certain officials gobbling up the spotlight, using penalty calling as a way to get attention. It's their chance to pose.

NFL officials just might be part of the greatest reality show going: How to Get Your Five Minutes in the Spotlight.

Come on, we all know referee Ed Hochuli, he of the shirt two sizes too small, likes to show off his guns when he relays a call.

This past weekend was the worst yet. It was flags, flags, and more flags. Baltimore led the way with the 21, followed by Miami with 18 and Tampa Bay and Cincinnati with 12 each.

Pace of play seemed off in a lot of games.

So is this a trend the league is worried about like the rest of us?

Mike Pereira, the NFL director of officiating, said this week his office is fully aware of the number of flags being thrown in the early going. As of now, though, there is no cause for alarm.

"Am I concerned?" Pereira said. "We're not going to be concerned with a trend through the first five weeks because we see an early-season spike. If it stays on the rise in the middle of the season, then there will be some concern."

For the most part, the feeling here is that officials do a good job. With the speed of the game increasing every year, it's a tougher and tougher job, and mistakes will be made.

Pereira has done a great job taking officiating from the back room into the forefront. He is accessible and helpful when it comes to officiating matters. In the past, the NFL liked to bury its head in the sand when it came to its officials, almost keeping them off limits.

Now they meet with the media in each city during training camp. Most are engaging and accommodating -- and good men.

Pereira also appears on The NFL Network each week to discuss officiating matters, clearing up controversial calls.

The NFL deserves credit for the openness.

But I also think that something needs to be done to rein in the officials. Last time I checked, flag throwing wasn't listed as a sport.

The networks don't pay top dollar to see yellow flags tossed all game. Nobody wants to see official huddling when the game should be going on.

"We're watching it to see how it plays out," Pereira said. "It's too early to think it's a trend."

Here's hoping Pereira and his office sent out the all-important five-word memo to the officials this week that read:

Keep it in the pocket.

If an infraction is away from the play, don't call it.

If it's close, don't call it.

Let the players play. Let the players decide the outcome. Let us watch a game without constant interruption.

Nobody tunes in a game to see the officials.

Got it?

Flag Day is June 14.

Let's not have it every Sunday and Monday from September to January, too.

TV time is for players.

Let's keep it in the pocket

10-14-2005, 08:06 AM
1) Keep 'em coming. I want the '98 Chiefs outta the record book.

2) Seriously, it's gotten to the point that I'm surprised, after any decent kick runback, that there isn't a flag.

10-14-2005, 08:12 AM
2) Seriously, it's gotten to the point that I'm surprised, after any decent kick runback, that there isn't a flag.

That's the god damned truth. Every time I see Dante cross the 50 the elation I feel is mixed in with dread from knowing that a flag is more likely than not.

10-14-2005, 08:15 AM
Yep, lots o' flags. BB said in his post-game press conference that he would be "hard pressed" to explain to some of his players what to change, with respect to some of the flags thrown against him.

He also mentioned after the Atlanta game that there were alot of flags on the ground, and he wasn't going to say anything more about it, but it was clear that he wasn't in complete agreement with how many flags the refs had thrown.

And that game was more or less even in terms of number of flags against both teams, so it wasn't like he was bitching that the refs were screwing the Pats. Hell, that "non 1st down" on the Schaub run was a total gift.

Some ticky-tack penalties getting called out there...

10-14-2005, 08:21 AM
Yep. And Prisco makes a good point that it is nearly impossible for games to get in rhythm due to these penalties. Heck, I have seen holding calls out of hand on offenses this season.

Good point about Dante. Alll except two of his long returns (longer than 20 yards) that I have seen this year have been nullified by penalty.