I’m sure you’ve heard already, but the league and the Referees Union finally did what they should have done over a month ago: get their labor deal worked out. The refs were back at work last night for the Ravens-Browns game, and all the games this weekend will be replacement-ref free.
For everyone, this is a good thing. Trust me. The replacement refs weren’t getting better, as most people had hoped. They were getting worse as the players discovered ways to manipulate them, and what they could get away with. It was only a matter a time before the game degraded into nothing but complete chaos.
While I think that will no be avoided, I also wanted to break down a few other difference that I believe that we’ll see:
Faster Games – NFL games are supposed to last 3 hours. With the replacement refs, they were lasting 4. I didn’t mind so much, since most of that extra time was caused by them huddling up trying to make sure they got as many calls right as possible. The normals refs don’t need to do that to get calls right. Expects the games to go back to lasting only 3 hours.
Less False Starts – Its not that the replacement refs were calling false starts that weren’t there, that is one of the few areas they actually got it right. The problem is that they had a very tough time calling defensive offsides. Defense players in almost every game were getting away with being jumping into the neutral zone early. With the real refs back, the defensive players will have to be more honest. This will in turn make it easier for the offensive player to stay in their stance, and not feel like they have to jump early in order to avoid being beaten.
More Defensive Holding – Remember the rule that states that CBs can’t bump receivers after 5 yards? Well, I hope Browner and Sherman do. The rule was widely unenforced by the replacement officials.
More Sacks and Less Running Yards - I put these 2 together because they have the same cause: less uncalled holding penalties. There has been a ton of holding going on so far, but I don’t think that the number of holding calls will go up across the league. Instead, I think the offensive linemen will simple hold less, and by doing so, will be less effective.
Higher Scoring Games – the result of all of the above, should be the increase of overall scoring throughout the league. The effects that help the defense (less holding) will be outweighed by all the effects that help the offense. Add in that less running yards will lead to more pass play calls, and you should get a lot more points each Sunday.