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NFL Replacement Refs: How Can This Possibly Turn Out Well?

The NFL announced some rule changes this offseason and they recently released a video to help explain them. We can't link directly to the video, so we've got this link via describing the various changes. The league instituted some specific rule changes, while also adding or reinforcing some "points of emphasis." I've posted these after the jump, but the video does a better job explaining things.

This all comes amidst news that replacement officials will likely be calling the Hall of Fame game and potentially further into the preseason, if not the regular season. The NFL has been looking at and recently training replacement officials, which consist of nobody at even the Division 1A level due to complications with BCS officials. Instead, we're looking at lower division officials, along with retired officials willing to cross the picket line and potentially non-NFL football refs (maybe CFL and AFL).

This all comes amidst the replacement refs heading to training camps and reportedly looking tentative and "in awe." Can this possibly end well if replacement refs are calling NFL games? Even if they are not in awe of the players, the speed and athleticism at the NFL level is like nothing many of them will have previously officiated. I have to think we'll see players pushing the envelope on a variety of penalties. Given how this could play out, is there concern for more injuries?

I don't know exactly how this will play out, but I am not particularly comfortable with the situation. Do others feel different?

Rule Changes

1. Increased protection of defensive players for crackback blocks.

2. Protection for recipient of blindside block

3. Too many men in the formation becomes dead-ball foul

4. Instant replay - only replay official can institute review if play results in an interception, a fumble/backward pass recovered by opponent or goes out of bounds through end zone, muffed scrimmage recovered by kicking team

Points of Emphasis

1. Blows to head by linemen in close line play

2. Horse-collar tackles

3. Protection of passer

4. Hits on defenseless receivers

5. Runner declaring himself down