How to Address The NFL’s Officiating Issues

How to Address The NFL’s Officiating Issues

By Ryan Hickey

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 expired.

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 run.

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.

Jets vs. Patriots

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 line.

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 going strong.

The New York Jets and Mo Lewis had no idea that the player that took over the Patriots franchise quarterback was the true franchise quarterback.

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 1988.

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 they return.

Don’t Judge the Jets by Difficult Early Season Schedule

Don’t Judge the Jets by Difficult Early Season Schedule

by Mark Kelly

While New York Jets fans are preparing for their much anticipated season opener on Sunday, what is a fair expectation for their demanding early-season schedule?

While Week 1 against the Bills should be a victory to most fans and analysts, the next five games can make or break the first half of the season.

Week 2 finds the Jets hosting the suddenly very formidable Cleveland Browns in primetime. The fact that Browns hadn’t won in 19 straight games and just once in their previous 37 games didn’t stop them from defeating the Jets last season. Cleveland also fell behind 14-0 and a QB that never took a professional snap before rallied them to victory. If the Jets can lose under those circumstances, then I need to see a win before I predict one.

The Jets travel to New England to play their first road game of 2019. I don’t think you will find too many pundits that would assume a Jets win.

Just how awful are the Jets numbers against the reigning Super Bowl Champions?

Since Tom Brady took over for Drew Bledsoe on September 23, 2001 (thank you Mo Lewis), the Jets have lost 29 of 37 games against New England (includes postseason). Patriots own a six-game win streak overall and have won eight straight and 15 of last 19 games at home.

Here are some more numbers

Average score last 37 games vs NE: Patriots 26.1 Jets 16.2

Average score last 19 games at NE: Patriots 26.4 Jets 15.5

TOM BRADY vs. JETS

I researched how much better Tom Brady has been than the Jets since taking over on September 23, 2001. Since it’s unfair to judge the Jets and Brady under the same terms, I reached further back.

I compared the Jets as a team starting with the 1988 season and Brady overall in his career. Both include games in the postseason. Since 1988 the Jets have played 204 more games, won 12 fewer games and thrown just ten more touchdowns more as an organization than Brady has in his entire career.

New York Jets Franchise Since 1988 vs. Tom Brady’s Career (includes postseason)
  New York Jets Tom Brady
Games 511 307
Wins 225 237
Touchdowns Thrown 600 590

I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to think the Jets will lose this game.

After a bye in Week 4, the Jets travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in Week 5. Despite the Jets pathetic numbers against New England since Brady’s arrival, the Jets are even worse against the Eagles.

The Jets have never defeated Philadelphia in their ten all-time meetings. They are the only current franchise winless against an opponent they have faced ten or more times. Until Gang Green defeats the Eagles, I can’t give them a win.

The Cowboys travel to Met Life Stadium in Week 6. Historically Gang Green has won two straight against Dallas after losing seven of their first nine matchups. Based on numbers alone, this would appear to be the Jets best chance to win since Week 2. However, Dallas is a hard team to forecast. They have won 32 of 48 games and two NFC East division titles since Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot joined the team in 2016.

The Jets finish this vicious stretch in their early-season schedule in Week 7 when Brady and the Pats come to Met Life Stadium. New England has won three straight and 14 of 18 in the Brady on the road against the Jets. Four of those Patriots wins have been by 20 or more points.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

While winning is the ultimate factor, how the Jets play against what most would say are superior opponents will be another huge factor to pay attention.

Sam Darnold will have all eyes on him when the season starts. If he continues the promise he showed last season, but the Jets aren’t able to win, that would be encouraging. If the defense can consistently force turnovers and put pressure on the opposing quarterbacks is another critical factor.

The Jets could lose as many as all five games after Week 1 and still be better than they were in 2018 when they were 3-3 after six games. The remainder of 2018 saw the Jets win just one more game. The Jets remaining ten games are all games the team could win.

In closing, don’t shut the door on this young team if they don’t see initial success in 2019. The lessons they learn facing such a challenging first six games could pay off in significant ways as the Jets wind down the schedule.

Mark Kelly is a staff writer for the World Wide Sports Radio Network

Jets Gase Era Looking To Produce Change and Results

Jets Gase Era Looking To Produce Change and Results

by Mark Kelly

The New York Jets made many exciting changes this offseason to reverse their historical trends of failure. Adam Gase, Joe Douglas, Le’Veon Bell, C.J. Mosley, and Quinnen Williams joined the organization in the offseason improving an already promising core that includes Jamal Adams and Sam Darnold. Expectations are high despite a difficult schedule to start the season. Will this new era lead to better results? Here is some of the history they are trying to reverse.

This Sunday marks the first NFL Sunday for the 2019 season. This season marks the 100th anniversary for the NFL.

The New York Jets start their 60th season playing football and their 50th as a member of the NFL. For Jets fans, playing 49 previous years in the NFL has not worked out well. They are one of four franchises (Lions, Browns – based on interpretation – and Chiefs) that have failed to reach the Super Bowl of the 26 franchises that made up the 1970 NFL season.

The Jets and Chiefs appeared in two of the four Super Bowls played before the rival leagues joined together for the 1970 season.  When both leagues agreed on the merger on June 8, 1966, they needed time to prepare for the merger. One of the agreements called for an AFL-NFL Championship Game that would pair the champions of each league against each other starting with that 1966 season. The AFL-NFL Championship game later became known as the “Super Bowl.”

WILL THE STREAK END THIS SEASON?

Despite the Jets vital role in giving the rival AFL league credibility by winning Super Bowl III, very little else has gone right since. Including their final season in the AFL in 1969 and its been 51 seasons between Super Bowl appearances.

While going that long without a Super Bowl appearance is enough to irritate their fanbase, it’s not the only long streak of futility. They are also one of three franchises since the merger, to never host a conference championship (Tennessee Titans – the original Houston Oilers – and the Detroit Lions are the other two of the 26 franchises).

NO DIVISION TITLES SINCE 2002

The last time the Jets won the AFC East was 2002. That marked just their second division title since the merger (1998 was the other). Every other franchise except for the Detroit Lions (3) has won at least four division titles.

PLAYOFFS?

The last time the Jets reached the postseason was eight seasons ago in 2010 (when they made their second consecutive AFC Championship appearance). Their current streak is the tied for the second-longest in franchise history without a postseason appearance (went 11 successive seasons from 1969-1980).

SEASON OPENER

The Jets take on the Buffalo Bills to start the 2019 season at Met Life Stadium. Sunday will be the 13th time that the Jets open the against Buffalo, the most for any opponent.  The Jets are 8-4 in those previous season openers.

Despite the many meetings with Buffalo to start the season, this will be just the third time they are starting the season against them at home.

The Jets won the previous two meetings in 2012 and 1960 (first game in franchise history).

STARTING SEASON STRONG?

In 2012, the Jets set a franchise record for most points in a season-opening game when they defeated Buffalo 48-28. Last season the Jets matched that total when they defeated the Lions in Detroit, 48-17.

Despite those strong starts to the season, the Jets finished under .500 in both seasons (6-10 in 2012 and 4-12 last season).

Looking at the Jets performances in season-opening games, starting the season strong hasn’t helped the Jets much. Since the merger in 1970, the Jets have won 11 or more game three times (1985, 11-5, 1998, 12-4 and 2010, 11-5). In each of those seasons, the Jets lost their season opener.

Mark Kelly is a staff writer for the World Wide Sports Radio Network

Chris Klim Mock Draft 2.0

Chris Klim Mock Draft 2.0

            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.

  1. Cardinals-N. Bosa DE Ohio
  2. 49ers-D. Metcalf WR Ole Miss
  3. Jets-J. Taylor OT Florida
  4. Raiders-G. Williams CB LSU
  5. Buccaneers-J. Allen OLB Kentucky
  6. Giants-D. Haskins QB Ohio State
  7. Jaguars-A. Brown WR Ole Miss
  8. Lions-Q. Williams DT Alabama
  9. Bills-G. Little OT Ole Miss
  10. Broncos-J. Williams OT Alabama
  11. Bengals-D. White ILB LSU
  12. Packers-R. Gary DE Michigan
  13. Dolphins-K. Murray QB Oklahoma
  14. Falcons-B. Murphy CB Washington
  15. Redskins-M. Brown WR Oklahoma
  16. Panthers-M. Sweat DE Mississippi State
  17. Browns-E. Oliver DT Houston
  18. Vikings-J. Simmons DT Mississippi State
  19. Titans-C. Ferrell DE Clemson
  20. Steelers-D. Baker CB Georgia
  21. Seahawks-J. Polite OLB Florida
  22. Ravens-D. Thompson S Alabama
  23. Texans-C. Ford OT Oklahoma
  24. Raiders-P. Campbell WR Ohio State
  25. Eagles-J. Love CB Notre Dame
  26. Colts-J. Tillery DT Notre Dame
  27. Raiders-J. Ferguson DE Louisiana Tech
  28. Chargers-C. Wilkins DT Clemson
  29. Chiefs-B. Burns OLB Florida State
  30. Packers-J. Jacobs RB Alabama
  31. Rams-T. Hockenson TE Iowa
  32. Patriots-D. Lock
Is April the Greatest Month for Sports?

Is April the Greatest Month for Sports?

By Chris Klimaszewski

            Here’s why April is the greatest month in sports. I know there is no NFL in the month of April, but look at all the other sports going on. First off, right from the start of April, it’s Opening Day for baseball. Second, the first Sunday in April, the Road to Wrestlemania has finally. Then the exact next day after Wresltemania, you have the March Madness finals. After that, the following weekend will be The Masters. Then, while all that’s going on, you’ll have the NBA and NHL going on throughout April. Finally, at the end of the month, you’ll have your taste of the NFL season with the NFL Draft. Plus, how could I forget, all the UFC fights that’ll happen.

            Think about it. This is a month we’ll see Mike Trout, Rory McIlroy, Seth Rollins, Zion Williamson, Sidney Crosbey, and Roger Goodell getting boo’d, in action all in this one month. You literally couldn’t ask for anything better. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for April.