NFL: Pointless rule changes and erratic refereeing is hurting the sport

Our NFL nut Andrew Cunneen was watching the Cleveland Browns at the Oakland Raiders last night and it stirred some feelings on how the game is going…

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The NFL is becoming less and less of a spectacle because of inconsistent officiating and needless rule changes.

I should add a sidenote to that point – any amendments to the rules that are done to enhance player welfare are more than welcome, once they actually do improve the likelihood of them not being injured as opposed to the league wanting to seem progressive.

So often, we tune into RedZone on a Sunday night (the best sports concept on the planet) and hope for some swashbuckling action.

However, it’s being diluted by the officials’ need to throw penalty flags for every minor discrepancy, while they’re missing blatant fouls in front of their eyes.

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There’s really not much of a fix to the live officiating, either. As we know, a referee’s job is tough, even when there’s a handful of them.

There’s so many action points on any given play in the league and so often, there’s up to 22 players in a couple of yards of space.

But some examples are hard to justify, even when they consult the replay officials in New York who get countless viewings of any given incident.

The latest in this evergreen series is the Browns being absolutely robbed last night in Oakland.

A Baker Mayfield-led Cleveland put up 42 points on the Raiders, but still couldn’t come away with a win. This was in no small part down to a fumble that wasn’t considered a fumble.

Genard Avery and Myles Garrett get a good release from their pass-rush stance and break the pocket down sufficiently that pressure is put on Raiders QB Derek Carr.

He loses control of the ball with no sign of the ball being thrown in a forward motion.

It’s then clearly recovered by Larry Ogunjobi who could easily return it for a touchdown given his momentum and that nobody else seems to know exactly where the ball is.

Compare that to a new point of emphasis in the rulebook – the quarterback hit.

The above is Clay Matthews’ attempt at sacking an opposition quarterback. He hits him right in the target area, falls on him and then rolls off. Then he’s penalised for it.

In theory, the league want players to alter their body positions enough that they bring the quarterbacks down to the ground, while simultaneously landing either side of the player in question.

The irony here is – that’s dangerous for the defender.

If you have to suddenly alter your body angle in order to avoid landing on another player, you’re stressing your ligaments to try and cut your path, against your body weight. We’ve seen enough ACL tears already.

Conversely, if an offensive lineman is blocking a defensive tackle and he pancakes him, then lands on him, it’s considered a brilliantly-executed block.

Consider the difference in a 330lb man falling on top of you versus a 280lb man. It’s notable.

In order for the game to be completely safe, it has to be played at a fraction of the speed it’s currently run at – an inconceivable thought.

But yet, the NFL steer more and more towards a non-contact sport as the weeks’ progress.

When you consider the amount of preparation these teams go through in the off-season, to not reward them with consistent officiating is mind-boggling.

This isn’t Sky Sports where bad officiating aids broadcasters and spoofing pundits – this sport is loaded with brilliant analysts who can’t even do their job because the face of the sport they love is changing beyond recognition.

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What do you think?