Sure, we may have been on their side last year whilst seeing-eye dog testers wandered aimlessly the vast expanses that are NFL football fields. But suddenly, the honeymoon is over, Ed Hochuli’s guns are “gross,” and Mike Pereira is a shill for the officiating establishment.
And that’s before we start talking about the potentially damning effect officials will have on Chip Kelly’s quest to be deliriously and spitefully unconventional.
You see, the league is telling its officials to make sure that they abide by the usual pace of play, regardless of what mad scientist-backed offenses want to do: [Wall Street Journal]
As Kelly mans his first full week of NFL training camp, installing a high-revving Ferrari engine into the Eagles’ offense, league insiders say there are exactly zero indications NFL referees will be willing participants in the Kelly era. The NFL, they say, has a long-standing pace at which they do things between plays and the referees “aren’t going to change just to accommodate someone’s offense,” said Mike Pereira, a former NFL vice president of officiating who is now an analyst for Fox Sports.
“We have to make sure teams understand that they don’t control the tempo, our officials do,” said NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino. “We’re going through our normal ball mechanics, we aren’t going to rush [unless] it’s in the two minute drill.”
Blandino said he has talked to every NFL team coaching staff during the off-season to emphasize that there’s no forcing the issue—the offense will not be able to snap the ball until the referees signals they’re ready.
Kelly declined to comment. An Eagles spokesman also declined to comment.
We discussed this in May, when Rich Hoffman wrote about the rule which requires offenses to give defenses enough time to counter substitutions. This news about a league-wide mandate, of sorts, to keep games moving along at a measured pace is new.
The article gives two reasons why the league prefers that the current pace of play continue: broadcasters and injury concerns. The injury concerns thing is phony. If a more crisp pace would help the game, then my guess is Roger Goodell wouldn’t lose much sleep over muscle pulls and a few torn [insert tendon]. And I’m not even sure the thing about broadcasters makes sense. Sure, we put up with 20 replays and endless pontification and bloviation because we have to and because football, more than any other sport, lends itself to commentary and explanation during the downtime between plays. But wouldn’t viewers and broadcasters alike prefer more action? Football is the only sport where there are four-six seconds of action followed by upwards of a minute of downtime between each play. There aren’t many promos in there (that’s just my view of it, most seem to come before and after series and commercial breaks). Ratings are through the roof, but they would only go up with the sort of frenetic pace the Kelly may want to implement. There’s a difference between being fair to the other team (allowing for substitutions) and the league intentionally throttling an up-tempo offense. There’s a fine line to walk, and even Nik Wallenda and Sweet Baby Jesus might have trouble doing so without pissing somebody off.
Anyway, we can assume that Kelly is well aware of the league’s concerns and will calibrate his players accordingly.