Officiating was a big issue around the league once again on Sunday as questionable or outright baffling calls affected the outcome of games in Cincinnati and New England and led to the NFL having a discussion with Vikings coach Leslie Frazier about what went on in Baltimore.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz also spent some time on Monday talking about the officiating in his team’s loss to the Eagles. Schwartz was focused on a pair of calls in the fourth quarter of the game on defensive linemen Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh.
Fairley was flagged for roughing Nick Foles on a play when he didn’t use his helmet to initiate contact and didn’t hit Foles too high or too low. LeSean McCoy scored just after that and Suh was penalized for holding Eagles center Jason Kelce on a failed two-point conversion try. Finding the holding on the play is as easy to do as finding Jimmy Hoffa’s body, leaving Schwartz to wonder what he’s supposed to tell his team.
“It’s difficult, because one of our things we try to do with penalties is try to learn, ‘OK, this is why they called holding on you, this is why they called pass interference’ so that you can try to learn from it and be in better position the next time,” Schwartz said, via the Detroit Free Press. “And in these cases, I honestly don’t know what to tell Nick Fairley or Suh on those plays.”
The Eagles converted their second chance and tied the game at 14. The Lions grabbed the lead back on the ensuing kickoff before the Eagles rolled to the final 20 points of the game, but the issue shouldn’t be whether the calls cost the Lions the game. It should be that the calls were incorrect and that there’s no recourse for getting them right in an age when technology can provide more clarity.
Whether Schwartz or other coaches would want to challenge those calls is up to them, but it should be an option available to them.