The San Francisco 49ers suffered a loss Sunday afternoon to the Arizona Cardinals that was shaded by poor officiating. The 49ers did plenty to hurt their own cause, but they also had to deal with referees that were all over the place. The referees missed calls, made bad calls, and otherwise were awful, continuing a trend that has been a problem across the NFL for some time now.
ESPN analyst and Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young spoke about the issue before Week 12 Monday Night Football. Young focused on the idea of making the referees full-time employees, and making them and players active partners with the NFL.
That is all well and good, but I think an easy first step to improving the officiating would be making all plays reviewable. I am not saying we allow unlimited challenges, but rather, allow teams to use their existing number of challenges whenever they view something is amiss. And if that is too extreme, then how about allowing challenges on penalties of greater than 10 yards? That would cover personal fouls, and longer defensive pass interference calls. Those are potentially just as important as a fumble or interception, so why not provide the opportunity to review those in the instant replay system?
The Quinton Dial play is a perfect example of why that should be allowed. Dial hit Palmer, and Palmer's helmet jostled up. Part of the problem was the speed of the play. Officials could not see what was happening accurately because it was happening so fast. Palmer's head may have dipped a bit leading into the play, and so I wonder how much that would have allowed for overturning on replay, but it is still a significant issue.