New York, N.Y.- Monday night provided yet another platform
for the biggest stars of the NFL season to help determine the outcome of a game,
and I’m not referring to any players on the Packers or Lions. The officials
stole the show yet again, injecting themselves into a game that eventually saw
the Packers win the game on a Mason Crosby game-winning field goal as time
The referees were front and center yet again due to a couple
of brutal gaffs in the fourth quarter that helped keep the Packers hopes alive.
Lions defensive lineman Trey Flowers was flagged for two “hands to the face”
penalties in the fourth quarter that after a quick replay showed both plays
were legal and the flag should have stayed off the field. Troy Vincent, the
NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, admitted Tuesday that the
second penalty on Flowers should not have been called, a too little too late
consolation prize for Lions fans.
Penalty flags have been flying at an alarming rate this season.
As Paul Hembekides pointed out on twitter,
there has been an extreme spike in flags per game this season. From 2016-2018,
there were on average 15.8 penalties per game. In 2019, there have been 18.3, a
jump of 2.5 extra flags per game. In Sunday’s Jets-Cowboys game, there was a
penalty flag thrown on six consecutive plays. Six. Consecutive. Plays.
This is a trend the NFL can’t have. With the rules in place
to protect players and world-class athletes training all year, the game has
never seen a more talented group of players on the field. It should be these
players whose jerseys we wear and social media handles we follow that determine
the outcomes of games on the field.
Herein lies the true problem: a solution is easier said than
done. One common fix tossed around is the addition of a “sky judge” to each
game’s officiating crew, which would place an official in the booth to buzz
down to the on-field refs to help correct any egregious calls made in real time.
Two issues I see with this are: 1) We’ve seen with the new
pass interference challenge system that officials are rarely changing the call
on the field. If referees are still deferring to the call made on the field,
even if it’s obvious during the review that the wrong call was made, I don’t
have much confidence that having an official in the booth buzzing down to
correct any missed call would work all that differently 2) As the Washington
Post points out, the NFL is leery that they could even find 17 qualified
officials to fill these new jobs.
The only plausible solution I’ve come up with so far has
been to re-train officials and insert a mindset that the less flags thrown per
game the better. Part of the problem I believe is that it’s easier than ever to
know if the call is right or wrong because television broadcasts can provide
every angle of a questionable call. This has made trying to officiate a game
harder than ever, as us fans on the couch sometimes have better angles than the
referees do on the field.
I’d like to think I’m with the majority when I say I’d
rather see a probable penalty not called than a phantom flag thrown to give an
undeserving team a second chance. If refs are trained to stay out of the way
and only throws flags for obvious penalties, the game will profit in the long
The setback with any solution is that it can’t fix the
here-and-now problems of the 2019 season. Officiating is a fickle profession
that relies on humans to make snap judgments without the benefit of replay like
we have at home. The NFL knows this is a problem. It’s up to them to make sure the
biggest headlines after the game are about the players on the field.
While the third Sunday of the
season in the NFL is not significant to many opponents, it is for the Patriots
and Jets. For New England, it forever changed their history, nevermind
reshaping the entire sport’s image of Boston. While for the Jets, it leaves the
question “what if?”
The United States was still in mourning when the Jets
traveled to Foxboro Stadium on September 23, 2001. Trailing 10-3 with 5:11 left
in the 4th quarter, the Patriots faced a third down and ten from their 19-yard
After losing in Week 1, Drew Bledsoe knew to start 0-2
with losses to the downtrodden Bengals and Jets, might start the clock ticking
towards changes. The same worries faced second-year Head Coach Bill Belichick,
who was now about to fall to 5-13 since resigning on a napkin as HC of the NYJ.
As Bledsoe took off from the pocket and tried to run for the first down, little
did he know he was about to change team history forever.
THE BRADY ERA
What began for the New England Patriots that day
(internal injuries to Bledsoe were more severe than initially thought) is still
The New York Jets and Mo Lewis had no idea that the
player that took over the Patriots franchise quarterback was the true franchise
Since that day, the world of professional football has
witnessed the greatest player ever to take the field. The Patriots have won
just under 80 percent of all their regular-season games since Brady took over
for Bledsoe on September 23, 2001.
New England currently has streaks of eight consecutive
AFC Championship Game appearances, ten AFC East division titles, and 16 seasons
with ten or more wins. The Jets division title in 2002 was the only blemish in
Brady’s resume, as the Patriots have won the AFC East in 16 of his 17 full
seasons. Brady missed all but the first half of the season opener in 2008, and
despite winning 11 games, the Patriots did not qualify for the postseason.
NUMBERS vs. BRADY
Since the numbers with Brady at the helm are so
dominant, it is not fair for me to compare the Jets over the same period. To
show just how dominant Brady has been, I gave the Jets a fair shot by going
back to the start of the 1988 season. In essence, I am comparing the last 31
New York Jets regular seasons to Tom Brady’s career, which spans 17 seasons. I
did include postseason numbers for both parties.
Since making his first NFL start on September 30, 2001,
Brady has started 309 games, postseason included. During that time, he has won
239 games and thrown for 595 total touchdowns.
Since the start of the 1988 season, the NY Jets have
played in 513 games (postseason included). Over that time, they have won 225
games and thrown 601 touchdown passes.
Despite playing 204 fewer games, Brady has won 14 more
games and thrown just five fewer TD passes than the entire Jets franchise since
The Jets will be entering New England a wounded animal,
having lost the first two games of 2019 and without starting QB Sam Darnold.
Meanwhile, the Patriots look to keep rolling with 42-year old Brady at the
helm. The Patriots have outscored their first two opponents, the Steelers, and
Dolphins, by a combined score of 76-3. The Patriots +73 point differential in
the first two games of the season third-best in NFL history. Only the 1970
Detroit Lions (+75) and 1975 Washington Redskins (+74), have outscored their
opponents by a wider margin in the seasons first two games.
Sunday will be Brady’s 36th career start against the
Jets (postseason included). He is 28-7 (.800) overall, including a 15-3 record
at Gillette Stadium. Overall Brady has thrown for 58 career TD against the Jets
(30 at home) compared to just 15 interceptions (5 at home). Brady has averaged
245 yards per game passing overall (244 at home) and completed just under 62
percent of his passes.
The Jets have lost eight straight games, including 11
consecutive in the regular season against New England at home. Brady and the
Pats have been exceptionally cruel to their divisional rivals in their last
three matchups, outscoring them 105-12.
The last time the Jets left victorious at Gillette
Stadium was the 2010 AFC Divisional Playoffs, when they stunned Brady and
Belichick, 28-21. The last time Gang Green won at New England during the
regular season was in 2006.
The excellent news for Gang Green is that a bye week
lay in waiting during Week 4. The gives the Jets a chance to lick their wounds
before they head to Philadelphia – a franchise they are 0-10 against – when
Okay, I did my first official mock draft a little over a
month ago. In that time, teams have franchise tagged players, cut players, and
traded players. The NFL combine also happened and I wanted to do this mock
draft before the free agency started. There will be a third when the free
agency starts, don’t worry.