Apart from whether replacement officials will make mistakes between the snap and the whistle, the question becomes whether the Plan C and worse referees will know how to properly determine and administers penalties.
And whether, even if they get it right, it takes too long to get there.
It’s a point that was made Thursday night by FOX’s Mike Pereira during the Bengals-Falcons game, and it was demonstrated on Saturday night by officials in San Diego.
The officials delayed the game for several minutes after a third-down play by the Cowboys that involved fouls on both teams. Dallas had an ineligible man downfield, and Cowboys receiver Dwayne Harris was hit while trying to catch a pass in the end zone by Chargers linebacker Donald Butler.
After an initial delay, the referee explained that the penalties offset. Then, after an even longer delay that eventually drew boos from the crowd, it was explained that Harris had gone out of bounds before being hit, wiping out the possibility of pass interference.
Thus, the pass was incomplete, the penalty against Dallas was declined, and it was fourth down.
It’s all something that needs to be worked out much more quickly. And if there’s any chance that delays will happen due to nerves or inexperience or uncertainty or paralysis by analysis, the referee needs to have a direct audio link to the replay booth, and someone up there needs to be ready to tell him what to do.
Better yet, the league and the NFL Referees Association can roll up their sleeves and work out the lockout.