The 2015 season has been an exceptional one for NFL officiating....exceptionally bad! There have been several calls that have altered the course of games. The problem with changing the outcome of games is that the officials, many of whom have never played football, quite possibly are changing the lives of the players and coaches that make their living in the NFL. One extra loss in a season could be the tipping point for a coach keeping his tenure with a team. An additional loss could change the path of a player and his contract.
There were some frighteningly bad calls in the week 12 meeting between the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals. Former Vice President of Officiating, Mike Pereira was working overtime tweeting about the game.
Although 49ers HC Jim Tomsula refused to talk about the officiating, Cardinals HC Bruce Arians had this to say:
The officials were struggling mightily. I mean they can't count to three...I got so many explanations I got tired of them because they were just running out of them. We played a pass on the first down, and I'm not sure the spot was correct. So we hurry up and run the ball, and they got 13 guys on the field. We accept the penalty, that's it, first and five. They marked it off second, and they gave us five yards after the play, which was wrong, and made it second and three. That's not what we accepted, and that's the whole problem. So it was a faux pas on their part. They can try to explain but they're wrong.
There was another gaffe by the officials at the beginning of the second quarter when John Brown stepped out of bounds before catching what was originally deemed a touchdown pass. Because Brown had not established himself inbounds before the reception, it should have been an incomplete pass. In the video below, Mike Pereira explains both the situation that Arians was talking about as well as the John Brown illegal touching/incomplete.
That first half sequence in #AZvsSF was REALLY confusing. In this @KFC video, I try to make sense of it all. https://t.co/TSKFgvsQwZ— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) November 29, 2015
Pereira also tweeted about the controversial roughing the passer penalty on Quinton Dial that Niners Nation covered here.
Here's what some of the players had to say about the officiating:
S Eric Reid
It's not in my nature to blame the refs, but man there were some questionable calls, some very questionable ones. But, what can you do? They throw the flags and there's nothing you can do about it....It hurts especially when it's third down and you think you got them stopped. But you have to forget about it and play again.
TE Vance McDonald
You can't control the part of the game with the refs but when they [Cardinals] missed the extra point it's like "The Justice!"
WR Anquan Boldin
I thought it was ridiculous all day. If you're going to call the game that way, call it both ways. Don't let it just be so lopsided where it's blatant.
S Jaquiski Tartt
I mean you can't leave the game in the refs hands. We know we have to be more disciplined as a team.
LB NaVorro Bowman
It goes back to controlling what you can control. Today was one of those days. I was in the zone so much that the calls weren't really fazing me. That's what we want to get to as a team. Don't listen to the refs. They make the calls and I have yet to see a call changed after an argument has been presented. Save your energy.
These penalties are why the NFL needs to change it's policy to make certain penalties reviewable. In real time some hits look more violent and vicious as well as head to head when they may, in actuality, be inadvertent. Many times what is called as rouging the passer and contact to the head isn't even head contact at all.
It won't get any easier for the 49ers when they face Jerome Boger and his crew in Chicago. The 49ers racked up a season high 13 penalties vs the Rams in week 8. The first half of that game lasted nearly two hours.
Don't forget, we still don't really know what constitutes a catch and what doesn't.