by Mark Beauchamp, Contributing Writer and Loyal Patriots Fan
The crown jewel of American sport continues to lose luster, tarnished by the replacement official fraud perpetuated by the NFL owners and commissioner Roger Goodell.
This past weekend was an absolute disgrace. The latest new low coming in Seattle during a Monday Night Football matchup between the host Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers. The game like many this season was riddled with brutal calls by the scab officials and culminated with a Seahawk victory on a last second Hail Mary touchdown reception awarded to Seattle on a play that fans across the country could see should have clearly been ruled A. offensive pass interference and B. an interception.
You would like to think it can’t get any worse than that but there seems to be no bottom here. The worst case scenario may involve player safety. The inconsistency of what will be called a foul and what won’t be called a foul along with the lack of respect the players have for the scab officials has resulted in some real live headhunting. During the Houston Texans’ win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Houston quarterback Matt Schaub was on the wrong end of a devastating and illegal hit by Broncos defender Joe Mays and he lost part of his friggin’ ear. Not exactly a Van Gogh job, but pretty bad. It feels like only a matter of time before something even worse happens in terms of player safety.
Make no mistake, the blame here lies squarely with Goodell and the owners. The scab officials are just way over their heads and should have never been put in this position. We’re not even talking about top tier college officials here – these guys aren’t out of the SEC, or PAC 12 or any BCS type college programs. They are Division II or III college officials or even high school. The National Hockey League has locked out their players so imagine if you will replacing them with say the Assumption College hockey team (Go Hound Go!) and passing that off as NHL hockey. Seems nuts, right? Well guess what it’s a fair comparison to the fraud that the NFL has put upon their players, coaches and fans with these officials.
The arrogance of the NFL is brutal. They know that we need the NFL like a junkie needs a fix. There are asses in seats at the stadium and the TV ratings are high. People are buying Gronk jerseys and foam fingers and Madden. We’re all tuning into the NFL Network (personally I could watch the women of the NFL Network read the ingredients on cans of soup and dig it but that’s just me). So why should they care? Integrity doesn’t matter – they’re getting paid. But how many times would you return to your favorite sports bar after they gave you food poisoning? Maybe once you write it off as an honest mistake. But 2 or 3 times? Where is the breaking point? When do you say that’s it – I’m done – this sucks. The NFL honchos obviously believes that time isn’t coming any time soon. Like good addicts fans will take the bad junk if the good junk isn’t available. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. That message is totally lost on NFL owners – remember that next time you cough up $40.00 to park at Gillette Stadium.
So the Patriots lost 31-30 to the Ravens in Baltimore on Sunday night in one of the most poorly officiated games I’ve ever seen in any sport at any level. But let’s be clear, the Ravens would have had just as much reason to bitch about the officiating had they lost as the Pats did. Even though I still don’t think the game winning field goal was good. Even with real officials this one probably comes down to the final series – but it would have been nice to see the boys allowed to actually play football.
The officiating was so bad that it was tough to even assess the game. Let’s just say the Ravens are who we thought they were and we let them off the hook. Tom Brady and the offense looked better than in the weeks 1 and 2 but still nowhere near championship caliber. I was all excited about the New and Improved D after the first quarter but for the rest of the game it was back to the same old suck ass can’t get off the field unit that we watched all of last season. This team must improve all the way around to come close to meeting the high expectations of their fans.
This week the team opens their AFC East Division schedule with a visit to Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY to take on the Buffalo Bills.
Buffalo, led by head coach Chan Gailey, is a well-prepared, tough, hardnosed and dangerous football team. On offense The Bills move the ball well gain a lot of yards and score a lot of points. No player is more important to the Buffalo offense than quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick from the Harvard Crimson Tide. He’s athletic, he can scramble and he has good command of the offense. He’s a smart player who does a good job at the line of scrimmage recognizing defenses and making adjustments. He has good quickness and the ability to avoid people in the pocket. He doesn’t suck. It appears unlikely that the Patriots will have to deal with running back C.J. Spiller, as he left Buffalo’s Week 3 game with a shoulder injury. That would present a big break for New England, as Spiller leads all NFL players with over 9 yards per carry. But the Bills have depth at the position, including veteran runner Fred Jackson, who may return to the Buffalo lineup after suffering a knee injury in the season opener.
Defensively the Bills are very disruptive up front and that could mean big trouble for Brady and the New England offense. The Bills will play a four man front anchored by defensive ends Mario Williams and former Patriot Mark Anderson. This front can create pressure on the QB without blitzing which is a huge advantage. Buffalo has a lot of good corners and coverage players and they frequently play five or six DB’s at a time. Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniel will have to get his head out of his hoodie and figure out a way to keep Brady off his ass and generate some consistent ball movement or the Pats will fall to 1-3.
This is gonna be a real big one Pats fans – as close as you get to a must win in September.
F the Jills …. Go Pats Go.