NFL Referees Doing Pretty Darn Good, Stats Say

For all the grumbling about football officiating this season, has anyone bothered to actually check out accurate the refs have been? The NFL has, and the refs have been really, really good.

Ed Hochuli

According to the league’s grading, 97.64 percent of all plays have been correctly officiated. Since about 150 plays are run in the average game, that’s about 4 missed calls per game. If you want to compare it to all the times you leaped off the coach to protest a clearly biased call against your favorite team, only to see on the replay that they got the call right, then the refs are doing a pretty damn good job.

It’s an awful lot more fun to blame the officiating for your team’s struggles, or to make hilarious Ed Hochuli photoshops, than to look at the actual facts. But there they are, clear as day, saying the referees are doing just as good as job as they have in past seasons.

“One time, there was a hue and cry — ‘This is the worst year for officiating’ — and we went back and looked and we determined it had been written five different years,” said Rich McKay, the Falcons’ president and a member of the N.F.L.’s competition committee.

Of course the hubbub becomes more pronounced when the calls that are missed come late in close games. Two contests this season have been decided by poor calls: a phantom pass interference in a Minnesota-Detroit game, and Hochuli’s infamous “incomplete pass” call that bailed out Jay Cutler and the Broncos against the Chargers.

Also fueling the fire is how outspoken some players have been in criticizing the league, from former Steeler Joey Porter to…well, it seems like all his old Steeler teammates have something to say.

In an interesting take, ESPN analyst and former player Marcellus Wiley said players have become more vocal since they have received more guaranteed money.

Whatever the reason, count the plays the refs miss in today’s games, and then count the ones that you missed by the refs got right. There’s a reason you’ve got a beer in your hand instead of a whistle.