There has been a lot of criticism of the NFL's replacement officials' performance Thursday night from various media members. And the new officials gave us plenty of material. (More on that later.)
Coaches have been hesitant to criticize the replacements, but Bill Belichick isn't like most coaches. He was asked if he was comfortable with how the New England Patriots' game was officiated.
"I think Mike Pereira has made his comments on the officials. I don't know who knows more about NFL officiating than Mike Pereira, so we'll leave it to him," the Patriots coach said. "I'm just trying to coach our team and get our team better. I'm not worried about what everybody else is doing; It's not my job."
It's a genius answer. Pereira, the Fox analyst and former NFL vice president of officiating, has been the most vocal critic of the legitimacy of replacement officials. Belichick made his opinions crystal clear by citing Pereira without saying much.
There were a number of shaky calls across the board during the preseason games Thursday night. It's possible that we are noticing the bad calls more than usual because we are evaluating the replacement officials so closely, but a few examples seemed particularly bad.
An official in the Chicago Bears-Denver Broncos game appeared to incorrectly spot the ball by a big margin at one point. There was an egregious mistake in the Washington Redskins-Buffalo Bills game on a punt that ultimately was corrected.
One official repeatedly called the Atlanta Falcons "Arizona." During the Redskins-Bills game, a false start was called a "snap infraction."
"I think it was a (expletive) call," Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady said about one holding penalty. "This guy's clearly a rookie. Terrible call. Please quote me."
Perhaps this could all happen in a normal preseason night, but that only further points out the NFL's problem. It almost doesn't matter whether the replacements do a good job or not. It's a perception issue. If players, coaches, media and fans aren't confident in the officiating, it will take away from the actual game until the regular officials are back.