I repeat: don’t blame the referees

I repeat: don’t blame the referees

June 11, 2019; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings center linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) speaks with outside linebacker Anthony Barr (55) during practice at the TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

After the loss to the Bengals, I’ve argued that blaming the umpires is wrong. Did the refs misunderstand Cook’s fumble? I’m 99% sure they did. Should they therefore take the blame for the loss? By no means.

Here’s my reasoning. Let’s say Cook is ruled by contact. Fine. Minnesota gets the ball back and they still have to run. In all likelihood, they are still trying to move the ball around the field while clearing the clock. Greg Joseph then marches onto the field for what is likely to be a long shot for a field goal. As we saw in the Arizona game, there’s no guarantee he’ll make it. In addition, Minnesota made all kinds of mistakes earlier in the game. Let’s not forget our countless penalties or Breeland’s cover attempt at the end of the first half. These are the things that made Ja’Marr Chase’s prophecy come true.

After another disappointing loss, we look for a scapegoat again. Personally, I’ve put the blame on the sieve of an offensive line, but several others turn their attention to the umpires. What the hell were they thinking of that Eric Kendricks penalty? Furthermore, how can Kendricks be penalized for his minor foul when Adam Thielen was actually tackled during the final play of the game? If you don’t remember the plays I’m talking about, check out the videos. When you see them side-by-side, it really hammers home how bad these decisions were:

As I suggested above, watching the videos in sequence crystallizes how awful the phone calls were (an English major would tell you it’s side by side in action). I’m not exaggerating when I say I had to watch the Kendricks video again and squint to see a “punishment”. We should have had a second goal line. Instead, Cleveland had another run of downs. A few plays later, they had an 8-7 lead. Worse, our belated attempt at a win was hampered by Thielen being boxed in by a defender before the ball was even close. I don’t know if he would have caught that ball, but I do know that he really would have had a chance if it hadn’t been boxed in.

past to bring me the newsChris Schad claims (as the title says) that Vikings fans “were legitimately able to pin the loss to the Browns on the officials.” He explains: “Now we can’t ignore the fact that the Vikings’ attack struggled tremendously in the face of the Browns’ defense line, or that the Vikings’ running defense once again seemed nonexistent on a day when the Browns’ Baker Mayfield was terrible But if the penalty had been taken in the final play Minnesota would have had the ball on the goal line for one last game and a chance to tie the game and force extra time, or possibly score a touchdown and win on a conversion of two points.”

Schad’s position got some support from a Super Bowl winning coach (someone I really respect):

Where I am different from Schad depends largely on where the burden of proof lies. In football, coaches are constantly telling you to focus on the things you can control. Players can control their effort when they drop a block, when they all come together to tackle, when they drop their shoulders to fight for an extra yard, when they raise the bag to relieve pressure, and when they refrain from blocking from behind. The list continues.

They have no control over the referees.

At this point, we should not expect a competent, consistent officer on duty. Each week gives us another example of inconsistent and incorrect application of the rules. Folks, it’s completely out of our control, so we shouldn’t focus on it unless it’s the most egregious miss or no-call. Saints fans have a legitimate reason to be upset about that wonderful missed pass interference against the Rams. That’s a rare instance where we can blame the referees. Otherwise, the focus must return to your own team.

Indeed, let us turn our attention to what we can control. The umpires certainly didn’t force our offensive line to be bullied all day. The umpires didn’t force our running defense to allow Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt both have productive days. The refs didn’t force Kirk to throw his first INT of the season. We could go on and on about the various mistakes Minnesota made during the game, but you probably get the point.

In week 5, I expect Minnesota to win. I expect them to build a lead big enough that the umpires no longer matter in the outcome of the match. That’s what I’m looking for from this team. Forget the umpires; we know we cannot rely on them to do things right. Instead, let’s play football at such a high level that even incompetent referees can’t get a win.


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