Through nine weeks of NFL action, the dominating storyline has not been the play of Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City or Deshaun Watson in Houston. Instead, the conversation has revolved around the referees and what is viewed as a lack of quality officiating. Each week, there is a new call that creates controversy, and referee Clete Blakeman was responsible for an issue in London.
With the Houston Texans looking to extend their lead over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Watson rolled out to the right and tried running for extra yards. He was knocked to the ground by defensive end Calais Campbell, who stopped him for a minor gain. However, Blakeman's crew threw the yellow flag and called a personal foul on Campbell for lowering his head to initiate contact.
Upon further examination by the announcing crew led by Rich Eisen, it became apparent that the only part of Campbell's body that had touched Watson was his arm. However, the Jaguars still received a 15-yard penalty, which gave the Texans a first down and put them in better field position.
Clete Blakeman has been horrendous all season. NFL officiating is at an all-time low. https://t.co/qTiNsgj4Tl— Connor Grott (@Connor_Grott) November 3, 2019
"That's way off, them calling him for lowering his helmet to hit the player," Eisen said while watching the replay. "This is part of the reason why I think mostly everything should be reviewable."
As Eisen continued to explain, there are many that fight back against the concept of reviewing everything due to the possibility that the games could be extended for longer than three hours. However, there is an issue in that the games are becoming frustrating for viewers to watch due to the officiating taking place.
Officiating has become such an issue in 2019 that many players have voiced their frustrations. Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns and Clay Matthews of the Los Angeles Rams were even fined by the NFL for criticizing the referees. Even a former referee in John Parry has witnessed these issues and believes that it's taking away from the product on the field.
“It’s front page every week, and we have to find a way to get it off the front page,” Parry said about the refereeing, per the New York Post. “Mistakes are part of the game, but I think we are just struggling to put our arms around some of the product that we see right now.”
While there are many concerns about the NFL and the referees, it's likely that no changes will be made in the coming weeks. Following the season, the Competition Committee can meet and evaluate the various rules and any potential changes that can be made. For now, however, there will continue to be controversial calls each week while the NFL will hope that there are no more critical mistakes in playoff games.
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