You get the sense NFL head coaches have been given a directive to lay off the replacement referees with comments to the press.
But players have been taking their shots as they please and Green Bay Packers safety Charles Woodson is the latest as he made some pointed remarks to Jarrett Bell of USA Today.
“They haven't been very good,” Woodson told Bell. “That's the honest opinion. Before preseason started, I think you're optimistic. But it's almost like a young guy coming into the NFL. The game goes too fast for them.
“Now, could they go through a season and get better? Sure. But there's going to be a lot of bad officiating going on until they catch up to the speed of the game.”
So what will happen if the replacement refs are working in the regular season?
“There will be some things you normally wouldn't get away with,” Woodson said. “It's not that you'd be trying to get away with them, but you will because the official didn't see it or he didn't know to make the call. We need the (regular officials) back."
The NFL insists the replacements are doing an adequate job and Commissioner Roger Goodell has expressed confidence in the fill-ins. But all it is going to take to shake a league that has so much public attention is a blown call by a replacement official in a regular season game that directly impacts a win or a loss. Could it happen with regular officials? Sure, it does from time to time. But if the NFL doesn’t have the best in the business officiating its games, how can the public have complete confidence in the product?
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune