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Replacement refs coming?

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Replacement refs coming?

Just in case anyone out there misses the labor strife that marked the NFLs last off-season, here comes another one, between the league and its officials.

USA Today reported that the NFL likely will start the season with replacement referees, citing a person with knowledge of the negotiations between the league and the NFL Referees Association.

"I will be very surprised if there are not games played with scabs or replacement officials," the source told USA Today.

At issue are proposed changes to the officials pension plan. The NFL contends the refs would end up better off with the new plan. An NFL spokesman said Tuesdays labor talks ended when the union "made a pension proposal that was entirely inconsistent with what they agreed to at the last session with the mediators.''

Under the proposal on the table, the NFL said, first-year officials, who average 78,000 in salary, would make over 165,000 by the last year of the deal in 2018. Remember, officiating isn't a full-time job.

Should fans care? Absolutely.

Because officials in BCS conferences are tied to NFL officials, replacements wouldnt come from their ranks. Instead, they would be from non-BCS leagues, retired referees and indoor football, ESPN.com reported. So the NFL wouldnt even be getting the next highest level of officiating.

Therefore, not only would we see more questionable calls, but there is also the potential impact on player safety, such a huge emphasis by the NFL right now. Officiating is a large component of avoiding the dangerous plays that the league wants to outlaw. Its unreasonable to assume replacement refs would be as capable of policing these actions as the regular refs.

Plus, wouldnt you miss seeing Ed Hochuli show off his biceps?

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Can Redskins' Cousins continue to avoid the turnover bug?

Can Redskins' Cousins continue to avoid the turnover bug?

During the Kirk Cousins franchise tag/long-term contract debate, the question of whether or not Cousins could continue to play as well as he did in the last 10 games of 2015 was pivotal. In that stretch of games he completed 72.4 percent of his passes with an average of 8.7 yards per attempt with 23 touchdowns and three interceptions. His passer rating was 119.1.

Those who saw that run as a fluke were not inclined to want the Redskins to give Cousins a long-term deal near the top of the quarterback pay scale. Those who saw the stretch as things clicking for a quarterback in his first year as a starter were inclined to lobby the Redskins to lock him up no matter what it cost.

How realistic is it to expect Cousins to repeat that stretch over a full season? It would be difficult. His completion percentage of 72.4 would top Drew Brees’ single-season record of 71.2 percent. The passer rating of 119.1 would be the fourth best of all time, better than any season ever posted by Tom Brady, Steve Young, Breese, and others.

From the same perspective, it might be a little easier for Cousins to repeat what he did in the interception department. In the last 10 games he threw three of them in 315 pass attempts, a percentage of 1.0 percent. Eight quarterbacks have had an interception percentage of 1.0 or lower for a full season. Some of them, like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, are among the best quarterbacks ever. Others, like Damon Huard, Nick Foles and Joe Ferguson, are not.

A look at the single-season leaders list implies that some luck may be involved when it comes to interception avoidance. You see a lot of players, like Huard, Ferguson, Seneca Wallace, Brian Griese, and, yes, Robert Griffin III who have seasons ranking in the top 30 of all time and never came close to duplicating it again. Griese, for example, had 1.2 percent of his passes intercepted in 10 games in 2000. In his 10 NFL seasons before and after that he never had an interception percentage lower than 3.6; his career average was 3.5 percent. That’s about a percentage point over average.

Was Cousins just lucky towards the end of last year? Some who have looked at the latter part of his season closely think so. Matt Williamson does scouting work for ESPN and some other publications. Focusing just on the last half of the season, he said that he saw a lot of interceptions dropped.

While he only threw two interceptions during that eight-game stretch, quite a few more easily could have ended up in the other team’s hands - and probably should have. This was even truer in his uninspiring playoff game against Green Bay, the last time we saw Cousins.

I will say that I am suspicious of statements like that. How many is “quite a few”? Four? Ten? More? What is the standard for a “drop”? And all quarterbacks benefit from would-be interceptions that get dropped. How do Cousins’ dropped picks compare to those of other quarterbacks? More? Fewer? About the same?

But there it is and you can take it however you would like. The fact that he had a career 3.9 interception percentage going into that 10-game stretch lends some credence to the theory that Cousins benefitted from some good luck. But it’s also possible that he figured out how to avoid the turnover bug after 15 NFL starts prior to the game against the Bucs that got things rolling for him.

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OPEN THREAD: Las Vegas betting information shows lack of respect for Redskins

OPEN THREAD: Las Vegas betting information shows lack of respect for Redskins

Last year the Redskins won nine games and took the NFC East title. Washington brings back largely the same team for 2016, and had a quiet, relatively drama free offseason. 

But in Las Vegas, none of that matters. 

Washington opens the year at home as underdogs against the Steelers, and considering that home field is generally worth three points toward the spread, clearly the betmakers don't expect much from the 'Skins. Or the betting public doesn't, that's for sure.

MORE REDSKINS: NILES PAUL STILL AN OPTION

Pittsburgh is good, last year they went 10-6 and have two of the games best in QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Antonio Brown. Star running back Le'Veon Bell may miss the game, however, due to a suspension. It will be interesting to see if the line moves once Bell's situation becomes finalized.

Surprised by the overwhelming Steelers support? Should the spread look different? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

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Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

KINGMAN, Ariz. (AP) -- Four people were killed Sunday when bus carrying Dallas Cowboys staffers but no players collided with a van on a northwestern Arizona highway.

The fatalities were passengers in the van, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr said. But the bus occupants emerged uninjured.

"All on the bus came through OK with some bumps and bruises," Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple (DAHL'-rimp-ul) said in an email.

Dalrymple said the bus was only carrying members of the franchise's staff but would not say how many. There were no players on board.

The two vehicles collided in the afternoon on U.S. 93, about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman, according to DPS.

The crash shut down at least one lane of the highway that serves as the main route between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The bus was on its way to a Dallas Cowboys fan event in Las Vegas. Charles Cooper, manager of GameWorks entertainment center in Vegas, said the session with 50 to 75 fans was scheduled for 3 p.m. PDT. People were already waiting when the president of a Las Vegas Cowboys fan club called to relay news of the accident. The event was subsequently canceled. Cooper says the team mascot was supposed to appear.

After the Las Vegas stop, the bus was scheduled to go on to Oxnard, California for the team's training camp. Members of the organization typically take a bus two weeks before the camp starts and make stops along the way.