Officials are Part of Game Planning in the NFL
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Too often, NFL officials have become part of the story in 2018.
Increased legislation coming from New York is the root of the problem but the last thing any supposed neutral arbiter in any sport is seeking is the perception that they are having an unwanted impact on the outcomes of games.
That's the case in the NFL, however, as points of emphasis regarding roughing the passer, along with yearly rule tweaks as a nod to the dogma of safety, have put the league on a path toward record offense with defenses around the league scratching their heads and wondering what they can do to stop a persistent onslaught of hidden yardage that contributes greatly to the big fantasy numbers.
For years coaches have taken the only tenable path when it comes to officiating, preaching the thesis of "control what you can control," what I have always called a whittled down sports-centric version of the Serenity Prayer: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference."
Eagles coach Doug Pederson, however, admitted Friday that he takes into account the officiating crew when getting his team prepared each and every week.
On Sunday when Philadelphia hosts Carolina, Clete Blakeman's crew will be handling things and that's typically good news for the Eagles, who are 8-1 when Blakeman and Co. are throwing the yellow.
“I think it's important to know who our crew is," Pederson admitted, "the types of fouls and penalties they've called in games. “[The officials] do a scouting report on us just like we do them. Yeah, it's good to kind of give the guys a little insight to who the crew is.”
Blakeman’s crew is known for calling defensive penalties, which means the physical Jalen Mills might be made aware that this is a week he can't turn it up when it comes to things like hand-fighting with receivers.
Pederson, though, was quick to say that the officials rarely impact outcomes.
“If anything, it brings a little awareness to things,” the coach claimed, downplaying the shifts from week to week.
If the officials don't really matter, however, why spend valuable time looking into their tendencies?
The answer to that is as distinct as that bright yellow that will be on the Lincoln Financial Field turf on Sunday.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen