This article is an audit conducted by the Wall Street Journal about the replacement refs and how they have ruined the NFL.
Wait...this article says almost the opposite. They are a little slower overall in making calls. Games are lasting 6 minutes longer on average. However, there have been more reviews this year so I think that could have something to do with the longer games. But overall the calls have been very similar to last year in quantity and type.
I have a philosophy in life about people. People can not remember that the way they feel right this moment is not the way they have always felt and it is not the way they will always feel. That relates to the refs in the sense that people act like controversial PI's, holding penalties, and missed calls are new to these refs. They argue that it was never like this with the real guys. These people can not remember how they felt at any moment other than the current. The replacement refs are in front of them so the only thing they can think is that the replacement refs are bad. They forget that every year there is an uproar for new refs, and complaints about PI's, and that Justin Smith is held on every play that he has ever played. They don't understand that as soon as the real guys come back they will be complaining about the same exact things that are happening right now.
We are biased homers. We love our team and have a hard time being objective about the calls that go against the team we cheer for. Two fan bases will watch the same game and somehow both feel that the refs are against their team. We are emotional. There is a reason site decorum is turned off on game day threads. These refs make mistakes and bad calls. So do the real guys.
Lets see how they compare
There are more reviews, so you might be saying that is because of all the bad calls. However, I will counter with 3 points.
First, they automatically review all TO's now so that is new. That should cause an increase in reviews.
Second, because coaches don't have to save their challenges for TO's or TD's they can use them more freely on other plays and thus more challenges are used.
Finally, the overturn rate on those reviews is only 31%. That is the lowest rate in 4 years.
I hear people complaining that the DB's are holding and grabbing more. I think I heard some announcer saying he talked to a DB and the DB said, I will paraphrase, "I know these refs aren't going to throw a flag on every play so I am just going to grab and hold," That may be a real thing that DB's are doing, and it may not be. They are being punished for it though. There have been more PI's called this year.
Now that leads us to the other side. People think they are calling too many PI's. I think that the PI is the most subjective, hardest, and most influential penalty that refs can call. But I think that it is argued and complained about just as much with the real refs as it is with these guys. And if players are really trying to push the limit then they deserve more calls against them. The one point I will concede is that the refs have called less illegal contact penalties and more PI's. They could probably get away from the PI's and call more of the illegal contacts. I don't think it is that big of an effect on the game though.
Holding penalties are being called at about the same rate. And people will say that isn't right because the players are holding a lot more this year because they think they can get away with it, so calling it at the same rate is actually not enough. My argument would be that fans and players and coaches complain about holding on every single play with the real refs or these guys. There is no difference.
The sample size is only two weeks of the season. So it is small and maybe the difference in the penalty calls will become more exaggerated as the season goes on. However, in the mean time I just want to ask one thing. Can we all just shut up about the refs. They are only going to be with us for a short time. They are going to make mistakes but so do the regular guys. As fans we aren't objective and things aren't as bad as they seem. That brings up my final points.
First, another of my philosophies on life. Things are almost never as bad as they seem and they will get better (there are exceptions). This is one of those times that things are going to get better. The replacement refs are going to get better and then the real guys are going to come back, this is only temporary. It will be OK.
And finally back to my original philosophy. When the real guys come back and we are about to start complaining about them lets not forget that the way we feel at that moment is not the way we have always felt and is not the way we will always feel. Let's try to remember this time in our lives when people are practically begging for the real guys to come back. When they do, let's try to appreciate them.