Officiating is always a storyline in the modern NFL, and Week 5 was no different
Referees are given far too much power in 2020, and that influence is all too often used to take physicality out of a game predicated on hard hits. Football is a gladiator sport, whether we want to admit it or not. That doesn’t make the act of running through a wall, helmet down, morally correct. In many ways it’s bankrupt. Yet, for Roger Goodell and their head officials to expect players to adjust on the fly to a few rule changes is unrealistic, to say the least.
The age of instant replay has helped correct this course in terms of fumbles, interceptions and the like, but actual bad calls remain. If anything, they’re highlighted even further, with broadcasting teams willing to call out refs for their mistakes now more than ever. Even Jim Nance and Tony Romo don’t hold back, and that leads to the viewer at home going borderline ballistic on a week-to-week basis.
Week 5’s set of referee transgressions wasn’t especially terrible in comparison to the worsening trend so far this season. If anything, there was a slight uptick in respectability for the men and women who dare wear striped zebra uniforms on a daily basis. But that doesn’t mean they were perfect.
Kirk Cousins AND Tyreek Hill get honorable mentions this week, minus the typical video that comes with that distinction. Cousins’ fumble to end the Vikings last-ditch effort against the Seahawks was sketchy to say the least, but with six seconds remaining and the clock ticking, they likely wouldn’t have gotten more than one play off anyway.
As for Hill…
On the surface, this looks bad, but factor in the hand-checking from both sides all game and it’s put into better context. The officials always have a tough job in the secondary for any game Patrick Mahomes plays. With that cast of weapons, some contact has to be let go.
3. Vince Williams called for bogus roughing the passer
Williams squares up and takes a fair shot at Carson Wentz as he’s throwing the football. The fair question here is what would the NFL like Williams to do instead? Allowing Wentz to throw the football unmitigated isn’t an option, as Williams is traveling full speed and simply has to make some form of contact. He delivers the hit just as Wentz threw the football. Not too early, not too late. The veteran Steelers LB also hit Wentz right in the stomach/chest area, which is exactly how he’s been retrained in the modern NFL.
If the league would prefer defenders not hit quarterbacks high, then they need to reward plays like the one Williams just made. If not, there’s no point in having a pass rush other than to bat down throws every now and then. Quarterbacks get star treatment, we get that. But a penalty such as this isn’t remotely believable.