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NFL tells officials to hustle, sends memo to teams on umpires

With the regular season fast approaching, there seems to be a growing concern that the league’s decision to move umpires behind the offense, and to require the offense to wait to snap the ball until the umpire is out of the way, could become a serious problem.

The latest news comes from Judy Battista of the New York Times, who reports that NFL teams will get a memo today outlining minor changes the league is making to reduce the problems associated with moving the umpire.

But one change the league could make — moving the umpire back to the defensive side of the field — is apparently not being considered.

Battista also writes that all NFL officials have been told to hustle, and that all seven officials — not just the umpire — can spot the ball if it allows the game to proceed more smoothly.

“The intention was never to disrupt the tempo of a team or slow down any offense,” VP of Officiating Carl Johnson said.

That wasn’t the intention, but it was the effect, at least in the Colts-Packers preseason game, when the Colts were twice penalized for snapping the ball before the umpire was in position. Sending around a memo likely won’t be enough to placate the Colts.

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45 Responses to “NFL tells officials to hustle, sends memo to teams on umpires”
  1. 5150cd says: Aug 31, 2010 1:17 PM

    If this was really about ref safety, why do they move him back in the final two minutes? Keep him away from the action to KEEP HIM SAFE!? Why doesn’t anyone care about the refs!!??

  2. It puts the lotion on the skin says: Aug 31, 2010 1:22 PM

    Here is an idea, instead of complaining about it, how about Manning and Polian tell their O-Line to move the F out of the way, so that they dont impede the Official from spotting the ball, and getting out of the way…..
    There was never an issue of spotting the ball, and getting into position when the Official had to through the D-Line. Before, he would spot the ball, move between 2 D-Lineman, and then move back 5-7 yards from scrimmage. Now, the Official needs to spot the ball, move between 2 O-Lineman, and move back 5-7 yards behind the line, and off to the side.
    Basically, the Umpire needs to get to a spot that wont impede a RB. If the team is in Shotgun,with no RB, the Official doesnt need to go very far… I would think the only time this is an issue, is when a team is punting/kicking, because the punter/kicker is much farther from the line of scrimmage than a RB is…..
    I think the Colts made a point to complain, not because they are worried about the time concerns, but because there Offense relies heavily on the position of the Umpire for picks, etc….. I understand the backlash from fans, tired of seeing the Colts whine bout the rules, but I can also appreciate why the Colts are complaining

  3. Kaz says: Aug 31, 2010 1:25 PM

    Someone tell the Colts they do not run the NFL. How come Manning isn’t fined for questioning and complaining about an official/rule. Let that have been Chad. Goodell would have flashed 5 (Ike Turner style).

  4. fastfred21 says: Aug 31, 2010 1:28 PM

    I;m really sick of poor officiating by these so-called professionals, the zebras are idiots anywhere they line up–just release the lions and let them feast

  5. Belichick Is God says: Aug 31, 2010 1:28 PM

    “Sending around a memo likely won’t be enough to placate the Colts”
    Just wait for more whining. The Colts along with everyone else knew about this rule for how many months, only to get surprised in the preseason?
    The Patriots also run a fair amount of no-huddle offense, but they had NFL officials come to their training camp on one of the first days, just to brief all the coaches and players on important rule changes and points of emphasis. Guess what? The Patriots adapted accordingly. Always prepared!
    The Colts, led by Polian and Manning, the two biggest whiners in the NFL? They act surprised and just whine away, begging for rules changes like they always do.
    In Boston when Manny Ramierez acted up, we’d roll our eyes and say it was Manny being Manny. In this case it’s Manning being Manning!

  6. edgy1957 says: Aug 31, 2010 1:39 PM

    5150cd says: August 31, 2010 1:17 PM
    If this was really about ref safety, why do they move him back in the final two minutes?
    ***********************
    I post this for the 3rd time for those who just don’t understand:
    So, you think that the NFL reverting back to the old rule in the last two minutes shows that the NFL knew that there was a problem. Well, you couldn’t be more wrong and I have to wonder how much football you’ve watched if you think that.
    Seriously, the last two minutes of a half and of the game can’t be any more different if they were Jerry Jones and Art Rooney and those 4 minutes are COMPLETELY different for each team, even one that is playing a hurry up offense.
    The first half is a wild scramble for BOTH teams, even if one is ahead by a lot. They will be try to get in points before the half and if they have all their time outs, they’ll be able to go over the middle (and use the umpire as a pick) but they’ll also try to save them for a final play and they’ll end up throwing more balls to the side and the umpire isn’t usually in danger of being run over then. They’re also going be throwing more of their passes over the middle BEHIND the umpire because they don’t want to waste time dinking and dunking their way down the field and having to waste a down with a spike or a time out to stop the clock (If they’re going to waste a down with a spike, it will more to their advantage for them to do it after a 20 yard completion and not one that went 5 yards).
    The second half is completely different. If a team is ahead by a lot, they’ll spend time trying to run it to force the other team to use their time outs and then they’ll take a knee and if their opponent doesn’t have a time out left, they’ll go to a knee after a first down. Unless these teams are tied, only one of the teams is going to be trying to score and if they’re down by a substantial amount, they’re going to be going down the field more and the umpire won’t be in as much danger.

  7. edgy1957 says: Aug 31, 2010 1:41 PM

    Allowing any ref to do it makes sense but you can bet that the Colts will still find a way to try and get this rule put back to where it was because it hurts their PICK plays.

  8. Ilovefoolsball says: Aug 31, 2010 1:41 PM

    why don’t they just put the officials in pads and helmets (they don’t have to have face masks, hockey refs wear helmets) and get guys who could actually play football out there. Think of all of the ex players and cast offs that they could make umpires. Why do we still have old man river out there?

  9. Unnamed Source says: Aug 31, 2010 1:41 PM

    I think the real problem the colts have with the official being moved isn’t the extra 2 seconds it takes to place the ball. It’s the simple fact that the umpire isn’t there to set picks off of anymore. There’s also the 20 or so free yards Manning gets every game from BS 12 men on the field calls. Without these advantages (and the fake crowd noise) the colts might actually have to play 16 games

  10. bofarr says: Aug 31, 2010 1:45 PM

    I’ve always had an issue with a 50-something chubby guy holding up play especially during the two minute drill. How many times have we seen a game where everyone is ready to run the play, the clock is running and the umpire is still wobbling over the ball trying to get it set? This rule makes it worse. Sure it’s easy for Colts/Peyton haters to say “get over it” but do we really need an excuse to slow down NFL football even more? Between the constant commercial breaks and the occasional 90+ second replay reviews play has slowed enough. Either put the ump back behind the line in some safety equipment or stop the clock until the ball is ready to play.

  11. edgy1957 says: Aug 31, 2010 1:52 PM

    VonClausewitz says: August 31, 2010 1:33 PM
    Oh right, the suggestion that an official move quicker is sufficient to fix a bad rule. Sure it is.
    With the application of this rule you have unfairly punished those teams, like the Colts, Saints, Vikes and Pats
    **********************
    After 3 preseason games this year, the Vikings have scored 62 points to 47 that they scored last year and that includes a 13-3 win over — wait for it – the Colts, who have scored 62 points this preseason after scoring 43 last year. NE has scored 90 points in 3 games while they scored 60 last year and finally, NO has scored 98 after scoring 100 last year. That makes you 1 for 4 (and that’s by a mere 2 points with the Saints). Oh and did you notice that in the game that the Colts scored “only” 24 points, the Packers scored 59 points: I doubt it.

  12. ClownBurger says: Aug 31, 2010 1:58 PM

    Allowing any official to spot the ball may help and make the matter moot.
    Let them try it again with that new tweak and see if the issue comes up again.

  13. FinFan68 says: Aug 31, 2010 1:59 PM

    This is a BS rule changed for no reason at all (you don’t compromise on safety, and it seems perfectly acceptable to place the ref “in harm’s way” after the two-minute warning) The collective stupidity on display here is astonishing. “Hurry up, dude” is not an appropriate solution to a problem that was manufactured by short-sighted guys with no better reason for change than the sake of change itself.

  14. Fordman says: Aug 31, 2010 2:03 PM

    Manning is upset that he can’t run half of their playbook now because their designated “picker” isn’t there anymore.

  15. LunarPie says: Aug 31, 2010 2:06 PM

    The idea of the refs needing to be in Football-Shape needs to be emphasized. These men are paid a fair salary and need to either shape-up or ship-out. Football cannot suffer any setbacks from a lack of ability within the NFL’s Rule Enforcers.

  16. sullijo says: Aug 31, 2010 2:09 PM

    Manning in the NFL’s great white hope…..every commercial has this guy in it.
    The racist overtures here can’t be ignored.
    If Peyton Manning were black, would the NFL continue to change the rules for him year in and year out?????

  17. longrodvanhungendong says: Aug 31, 2010 2:14 PM

    I know it’s early but out of the 32 teams, the Colts and who else is bitching about this so far?

  18. minnesconsin_ad says: Aug 31, 2010 2:19 PM

    i’m really torn on this. on one hand, it puts certain teams (Colts, etc) at more of a disadvantage because of their offensive schemes. On the other hand, the Colts have benefited for years from the shady use of the Umpire as an extra blocker for Dallas Clark, so I’m not going to shed too many tears for them.
    The question I raised a week or so ago was “why does the Umpire need to be the one to spot the ball,” and this press release at least addresses that sufficiently.
    What I dislike most about this new rule is that it opens the league up to the wrath of the handful of blowhard conspiracy theorists who are out to prove the games are fixed. Wait ’til the new rule causes problems in a game that matters. eesh.

  19. Sooners says: Aug 31, 2010 2:26 PM

    As others have mentioned, the pick play the Colts use cannot be run with the umpire moved into the backfield. If the league was concerned with the officials health why not institute a penalty when the offense obviously runs such a deliberate pattern?
    Also why is okay to penalize the defense for a late substitution when the Colts quick snap the ball, but its not okay to penalize them when they snap the ball when the umpire is not in position.

  20. if yer not first... says: Aug 31, 2010 2:26 PM

    With the application of this rule you have unfairly punished those teams, like the Colts, Saints, Vikes and Pats who have the veteran QBs to use the hurry-up well.
    Please, Dr. Hyperbole, explain to us exaclty how this rule hurts those that use the hurry up? How does the 1-2 seconds it takes for the umpire to get set effect anything? Peyton can still call his audibles, it’s not enough time to make defensive substitutions. and that amount of time is not going to make a significant difference in the number of plays even if they ran the hurry up the entire game. The only thing it may do is protect the defense from having all those too many men on the field calls against them and stop Peyton from using the ref as a pick.

  21. PDXNinerfan says: Aug 31, 2010 2:32 PM

    Two umps. One running the play and the other lining up behind for the next play. Alternate.
    Stupid, but if this change was done for safety, safety has its price. I agree with Colts that the game flow should not be impeded.

  22. nicefellow31 says: Aug 31, 2010 2:33 PM

    Any official is going to spot the ball? Part of the reason, the umpire was behind the D-Line in the first place, was to allow him to spot the ball! I officiate high school football and I’m a Linesman which means my position is on the sidelines. I don’t even come close to the middle of the field, let alone be in position to spot the ball. In addition, the Referee would have to give me time to get back to my position. I understand the safety issue, I’ve done the Umpire position and it is dangerous enough in high school games so I can imagine the risks you take with profesional athletes, but this plan should have been discussed more. That is one of the problems I have with Goodell, he pretty does whatever he wants and doesn’t ask for much input (longer season, football in Europe, etc…)

  23. THE godfather says: Aug 31, 2010 2:33 PM

    sullijo – the only player rules that I have ever heard of are the Jordan Rules. What color was he you racist?

  24. Pongo says: Aug 31, 2010 2:35 PM

    They obviously recognized that they would kill hurry up, that is why they do the “dangerous” version in the 2 minutes, when any offence that is behind will be in hurry up.
    To say they never recognized the impact is obviously a total lie.

  25. IndyColt45 says: Aug 31, 2010 2:39 PM

    # sullijo says: August 31, 2010 2:09 PM
    If Peyton Manning were black, would the NFL continue to change the rules for him year in and year out?????
    ————————–
    No, because he wouldn’t be good.

  26. steelers rule says: Aug 31, 2010 2:42 PM

    Once again Super Bowl LOSER Manning gets his way! This big headed, whining, throw teammates under the bus egomanic gets what he wants.

  27. dlmcc0909 says: Aug 31, 2010 2:49 PM

    If Manning and Polian had their way, Peyton would get to wear one of those red no contact jerseys on the field too

  28. LunarPie says: Aug 31, 2010 2:57 PM

    Steelers rule:
    You should watch how you talk about QBs. Your QB pretty much raped chicks….

  29. CJ says: Aug 31, 2010 3:11 PM

    If ALL seven officials spot the ball, how does that speed the game up? How can seven officials hold the ball at the same time anyway?
    Maybe if any one of them could spot the ball after a given play, that might speed things up, but having all seven do it after every play sounds like crazy talk :)

  30. bayou says: Aug 31, 2010 3:18 PM

    Tell it to Ed Hochuli’s pythons Manning. It just might be the last time you are heard from.

  31. petro says: Aug 31, 2010 3:19 PM

    Sullijo- Please then comment on Lebron James? He is a great hope and his name is everywhere. Manning at least has a title while the “King”, will always be second fiddle in Miami.

  32. Kevin from Philly says: Aug 31, 2010 3:23 PM

    Just do it like hockey – have the Ump chuck the ball to the center and the ball is in play. Do over if the nose tackle whacks him before he gets the ball.

  33. jediwrstlr says: Aug 31, 2010 3:33 PM

    this wont change until it effects the Tom Brady

  34. Canned Heat says: Aug 31, 2010 3:34 PM

    It puts the lotion on the skin says:
    August 31, 2010 1:22 PM
    There was never an issue of spotting the ball, and getting into position when the Official had to through the D-Line.
    ___________________________________
    True….but now he’s going quite a bit farther to get into position, and it’s taking time and just looks terrible IMO. The umpire lined up on the defensive side takes 4 or 5 backsteps or sidesteps to get beyond the LB’s, then adjusts his position accordingly. The umps now have to move clearly out sight on the offensive side (not to mess up the TV viewing) and have to go probably 12 to 20 steps from where they spotted the ball. Too slow and time consuming….even with young officials. Add the fact that a boatload of blatant holding calls are being missed in every game I’ve seen with the new positioning, and by mid-season every fan will be screaming at their TV when their LB’s and DB’s get jobbed because the other officials are not in position to watch for it. That is where this new rule is going to pinch things. I think Goodell is trying to jack with too many things right now. Get a younger, quicker umpire or put him a hair deeper on the defensive side, or protect him with equipment, rather than this mess.

  35. contract says: Aug 31, 2010 3:39 PM

    The important thing here is to make Peyton Manning happy.

  36. Wellsee says: Aug 31, 2010 3:43 PM

    I’m looking forward to the first reverse – single or double – where the Ump gets flattened and probably causes the offense to lose possession. Like someone else said, the D-linemen and linebackers have learned to move around the officials but the offense hasn’t.

  37. Nuckinfutz says: Aug 31, 2010 3:45 PM

    When Polian whines, people cower in fear. Roger Goodell is Polian’s sock puppet.
    Feel good Roger?

  38. It puts the lotion on the skin says: Aug 31, 2010 3:47 PM

    CincyAllDaWay, I couldnt disagree with you more., and here is why. The Umpire when lining up on th D side of the ball, isnt supposed to “move his old ass out of the way”. He is supposed to stand still. And the players are supposed to avoid him.
    It is the equivalent to walking through the grocery store, and you move one way to avoid someone, and they happen to move the same way. So both of you move again, and both move into each other’s way. If the ref is trying to guess which way the players are going to go, and tries to get out of the way, he is going to get run over more often than not. If he just stands his ground and stays there, the players will run as close to him as they can, with out running into him. A stationary Umpire, is far easier to avoid, than a moving Umpire, when the WR doesnt know if the Umpire will step in front of him or not….
    As far as any official being able to spot the ball, the closest official is the Umpire. It will take longer for for the Side Judge to get to the sideline, than it would for the Umpire to get to his position behind the offense.
    Again, this has very very very little to do with the delay/interruption of the flow of the game. It has everything to do with taking away subtle advantages that the Colts have gotten away with for years (ie: pick plays, catching the other team offside, catching the other team in mid substitution). To be honest, I can appreciate he fact that the Colts devised a plan to bitch about the rule, without actually acknowledging the reason the are bitching. “Disrupting the flow of the offense”, LMFAO, it is no more disruptive than Manning standing back there calling out plays/decoys, etc for 30 seconds….

  39. Chiefs2010 says: Aug 31, 2010 4:24 PM

    IndyColt45 says:
    August 31, 2010 2:39 PM
    # sullijo says: August 31, 2010 2:09 PM
    If Peyton Manning were black, would the NFL continue to change the rules for him year in and year out?????
    —————– ———
    No, because he wouldn’t be good.
    ______________
    ha!

  40. Mark0226 says: Aug 31, 2010 4:26 PM

    This also affected the Saints versus the Chargers. In one play, the Saints threw a pass to Colston on the sideline, Colston bobbled the ball while going out of bounds to the ground. The refs missed the call and called it a complete pass. The Chargers didn’t challenge immediately, so the Saints attempted a hurry up snap and were flagged for snapping when umpire was not in position. This gave the Chargers time to challenge the previous play, which was reversed.
    Now, you could argue that in the end, this allowed the “completion” error to be corrected, but errors are part of the game and teams have the opportunity to take advantage of them or to fix them if they act quickly. Snooze, you loose, but the new rule makes it OK to snooze.

  41. ShaKey says: Aug 31, 2010 4:28 PM

    Is Judy Battista any relation to Angel Battista?

  42. Mike Daly says: Aug 31, 2010 6:56 PM

    Puh-leeze – this rule should be changed because it slows down an offense? Why should anyone care if it does? The one team that needs this rule changed because it can’t adjust to it like all the other teams is the one team whose receivers are so flimsy that the 5-yard chuck rule became an issue because while the Titans, Panthers, Ravens, etc. had receivers who can hit back this team doesn’t and wants no part of adjusting to the game – the Colts.

  43. ShutUpandBeHappy says: Aug 31, 2010 8:01 PM

    I officiate HS football as an Ump and I think this rule needs to be amended in a different way than just hustle… It’s clear that the NFL was concerned about the delayed snap in the 2 minute drill type situation, so they kept them in their traditional home for that time. What they really need to do is make it the umpire’s discretion based on the tempo. In all hurry up situations (offense at the line when the ball is placed), the ump should go to his old spot. If the offense is not yet at the line, he can move to his new spot behind the O. I haven’t read the actual mechanics for the NFL, but I think they still cover the same player responsibilities whether in the backfield or with the D. It seems like this would allow for the spirit and intent of the mechanic and not cause delays during hurry up situations at any point in the game.

  44. Canned Heat says: Sep 1, 2010 9:28 AM

    ShutUpandBeHappy says:
    August 31, 2010 8:01 PM
    I officiate HS football as an Ump and I think this rule needs to be amended in a different way than just hustle… It’s clear that the NFL was concerned about the delayed snap in the 2 minute drill type situation, so they kept them in their traditional home for that time. What they really need to do is make it the umpire’s discretion based on the tempo. In all hurry up situations (offense at the line when the ball is placed), the ump should go to his old spot. If the offense is not yet at the line, he can move to his new spot behind the O. I haven’t read the actual mechanics for the NFL, but I think they still cover the same player responsibilities whether in the backfield or with the D. It seems like this would allow for the spirit and intent of the mechanic and not cause delays during hurry up situations at any point in the game.
    ___________________________________
    I was an ump at HS level for 16 years until moving to the white hat 4 years ago. You make some good points, but I still don’t like the idea of him in the OBF. One, these guys have officiated their whole lives back there…the LB’s and defenses have played their whole lives with the ump back there….and if you’ve watched any of these games with the new positioning…there are some outrageous holding calls that are being missed because no one is there to see it. We had the whole clamp down on defensive holding when D-linemen were holding pulling O-linemen. Who’s watching that now…the same guy 20 yards from behind the running backs..? Who is going to watch for a D-lineman’s hands in the face of the O-linemen….? Not only does this hinder the Ump’s role…every other official out there now has to also adapt to cover areas the ump had residual duties in. Terrible idea.

  45. CKL says: Sep 1, 2010 10:29 AM

    No one is bitching about this but peymeaton and Napolian yet all the teams I have seen have run the hurry up so far have had zero issues (The Saints were penalized once that I saw but aren’t whining either).
    It is, as others said,solely about the OTHER advantages they get from the ump placement.
    Imagine the nuts it takes to whine about a rule you voted in favor of? Ye gods.

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