The NFL has a penalty problem. Every fan, team, and player knows it, but in an age with so much technology, so many avenues to avoid the same mistakes, why does it seem like within each and every game, the calls are getting worse and worse. Last night the first half of the Titans Jaguars game was nearly unwatchable, and for some NFL players like Tom Brady, it was unwatchable, as he took to twitter to express how he was turning off the game. First of all, there was more penalties (15), then points (14) scored in the first half. Every big play made by either team was called back on a holding or a block in the back. Every incomplete pass where the QB got hit there was a 15 yard penalty for roughing the passer to extend the drive. It was brutal. Now, as fans we have to take into account that it was a Thursday Night Football game. These are usually the ugliest of the ugliest NFL football games played each week. The teams playing have 3 days to rest, recover and gameplan for their next game. It is almost impossible and the fact that these games still exist is another problem in itself. Naturally when you have unprepared teams, you have more mistakes, and many of those mistakes lead to big plays and/or penalties. That is the sole reason why one Thursday night game will be 10-3 and another 54-48. These teams simply do not have enough time. This is not me trying to make an excuse for the refs, trying to plead that all the penalties last night where blatant and the players fault, however disregarding the fact that those two teams played 72 hours before has to be recognized.
We live in a time with many technological advancements, so why the same issues with penalty calls. There is not a doubt in my mind that the NFL can find a way to have a ref stationed in the booth watching the game from different angles and when they see an egregious call they talk to the head ref through the microphones they all have and say "hey pick up that flag". This is especially true with holding, a ref in the booth watching every play after a flag is thrown is getting a much better vantage point than the ref who made that call in possibly the fastest game ever to be played on a field. As a fan, I would not care about the extra 30 seconds this may take, as long as the call is right. I think that is where the glaring issue comes to the forefront. The NFL refs have been making the wrong calls in the most high pressured moments, costing teams games and denying momentum shifts they desperately need. The biggest example was the phantom PI call they refereeing crew in the Saints Rams NFC Championship game missed. What did that lead too? Pass Interference being a reviewable call. There are certain flags in the game of football that alter the outcomes of games way too much, and that is why these refs need to be held to certain standards.
There are a lot of articles you will read, or tweets you will see that will provide you statistics that NFL refs are surprisingly very good at their job, and make the correct calls over 95% of the time. This is true, however these are stats coming directly from the NFL and what they deem each call to be. So when they go back and look at a game in super slow mo and they see a soft holding penalty that no one would ever see in real time called, they say the ref was correct. When in reality that call did not need to be made because this is football we are talking about, a physical, a contact sport.
I do understand that everyone involved in the NFL and it's officiating crews are human, they will make mistakes, what needs to be avoided are the big game changing mistakes, and the mistake of throwing too many flags diluting the quality of the game. That is all us fans really want, we want a good competitive football game. Some NFL teams have enough issues facing certain teams, if you add on the refs it becomes nearly impossible to win. The football season is the shortest out of all the other 4 major sports, it is perhaps the most rewarding for both the players and the fans. The last thing we need as fans, and the last thing the NFL needs is for people to turn their back on the game because of the referees. There needs to be a hard stance of how much a ref can control a game, they could have just as much of an impact on the game than any other player or coach on that field. That is what is scary, and that is why changes need to be made. Enough protecting certain players, especially the QB, if it is not a blatant dirty hit using the helmet, don't call the penalty. These players knew what they signed up for and they are getting compensated just fine for the game they play, football needs to get back to being...football.