Less than a year ago, before Chip Kelly even rolled out his fast-paced, high-powered style of a professional football offense, there was a report that referees would not be expected to speed up their own game to keep Kelly’s pace. The report at the time stated:
“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 …
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.”
And now, as we begin to stare down the start of Kelly’s sophomore effort, the tune has changed. According to an NFL report, officials have been going through a more rigorous “physical assessment” than in previous years, as part of an effort to make sure they can keep up with a faster paced game.
In the NFL.com video, former Eagle and current NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent said this:
“As the game evolves, we also must make sure that (the officials) are evolving as well. You see the likes of coach Kelly and that high-tempo offense. They’re running rapid plays. The ball needs to be spotted rapidly, and we want to make sure that our officials are now also evolving to that pace of our game.”
What a difference only one year, and one extremely high scoring season (a record 11,985 points were scored, with games averaging 46.8 points, the highest average in NFL history), with eight NFL teams averaging scoring drives under three minutes, makes. It’s like the NFL just now realized scoring is good.