To start his latest weekly media and network officiating video, NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino addressed the rampant criticism of the league’s officials.
“I want to talk about perception versus reality for a minute,” Blandino said. “And there’s a perception now that officiating is not very good at the moment. But the reality is that the officiating is very good.”
He then offered some statistics.
“Through 12 weeks, we’ve had over 29,000 plays,” Blandino said. “Roughly 160 plays per game, and our officials are averaging just over four mistakes a game — 4.3 mistakes per game. And when you think about those numbers, 29,00 plays — the number of decisions that each official has to make during each play, before each play, after each play — that number is much more than 29,000. And we are talking about a very small number of mistakes. We are talking about a handful of plays that have happened in high-profile situations.”
He’s right that there have been a handful of “high-profile mistakes,” but there have been plenty of other mistakes, too. At 4.3 per game and, through 12 weeks and 176 games, that’s a total of 757 mistakes.
“Now those have been mistakes,” Blandino said. “We own them. We have to make the corrections, the adjustments to ensure that they don’t happen again. But we are talking about a handful of plays, and in the big picture — again, 29,000 plays, however many more decisions that are being made in each play, after each play, before each play — the officials are very, very good at what they do, and it’s a very difficult job. They see it once in real time, full speed, and then we all get to evaluate them from multiple different angle with high-definition, slow-motion replay. So we understand where the standard is, and we are going to work to meet that standard. But our officials are very, very good at what they do.”
They are very, very good. The question is whether they should be better and whether there are ways that they can be even better, whether through their own performance or the tools available to the league to help reduce the number of errors.