Another season and another epic failure by the NFL Officiating to bring clarity to the game. In 2018, in response to Aaron Rodgers 2nd broken collarbone (2017 vs Vikings), the NFL decided to implement rules to better protect the quarterback. This new interpretation failed miserably, as perfectly sound QB sacks were then ruled roughing the passer (Matthews x 2 vs Vikings). There was confusion and outrage among fans and players alike. It appeared that no two NFL officiating crews would make that call similarly. Fast forward to 2019, in response to an uncalled DPI in the 2018 Saints versus Rams NCFCG, the NFL made an effort to clearly define Pass Interference. The NFL and Commisioner Roger Goodell in their infinite wisdom attempted to create a rule to balance Offensive Pass Interference and Defensive Pass Interference. What they have created is chaos. An inordinate number of OPI has been called, while seemingly very little or inconsistent DPI has been called.
In the recent Green Bay Packers versus the Philadelphia Eagles game, there were inconsistent PI calls and non-calls. On one particular play, Eagles CB (multiple offender) Avonte Maddox put his hand up inside Montez Valdes-Scantling’s face mask and caused an incompletion. Packers Coach Matt LaFleur challenged the call, and lost. He later commented, “I no longer know what Pass Interference is.” On the final play of the game, an Eagles defender wrapped up MVS, preventing an attempted reception which resulted in a game ending interception.
Probably the most egregious call/non call was the hit by Derek Barnett on Jamal Williams. While this had nothing to do with DPI, it did occur on a pass reception. Two Eagles had halted Williams progress and the play had been whistled dead, when Barnett came flying in and made helmet to helmet contact. Williams was transported to the hospital, and was later released. Barnett was flagged, but no accompanying ejection followed. The second most egregious play occurred on a punt when Eagle gunner Rudy Ford clearly made face mask to face mask contact with Darrius Shepherd. With an NFL official standing a mere 10 yards away, Ford was not flagged. Over the years since the NFL referee holdout, I have noticed a steep decline in the quality of NFL referees. I heard one analyst, a former player suggest that referees should come from former players. That’s an interesting thought.
With all the focus being placed on player safety, I’m not noticing any improvement in the safety of the game. What I am noticing is an increase in the inconsistency among the referee’s calls. I also notice a bias against certain players or even teams. Some warranted, some not. The Eagles have earned the reputation of committing “dirty” plays since Jim Schwartz was hired as Defensive Co-Ordinater. His history has always been to coach head hunting, late hits, flagrant holding on both sides of the ball. I’m surprised at some point that Schwartz has received a sizable fine in an attempt to adjust his coaching style. Schwartz’s style is also not consistent with Eagle’s Head Coach Doug Pedersen, who I consider a class act.
Let’s hope over the next quarter of the season, the NFL figures out how they want these PI’s called. I’d also like to see ejections and suspensions for unsafe and egregious hits (like Barnett’s). It should awaken the Eagles at least, when Andrew Sendejo, in his attempt to “spear” Packers TE Robert Tonyan, made helmet to helmet contact with his own teammate Maddox, sending him to the hospital. Somehow I don’t think Schwartz will change a thing.
For the Packers, they have 10 days to heal, and then off to Dallas to meet the Cowboys!
As Always, Go Pack Go!
PackerGregPackerGreg Veteran/Go Army @DrGTP on Twitter