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Replacement refs coming?

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Replacement refs coming?

Just in case anyone out there misses the labor strife that marked the NFLs last off-season, here comes another one, between the league and its officials.

USA Today reported that the NFL likely will start the season with replacement referees, citing a person with knowledge of the negotiations between the league and the NFL Referees Association.

"I will be very surprised if there are not games played with scabs or replacement officials," the source told USA Today.

At issue are proposed changes to the officials pension plan. The NFL contends the refs would end up better off with the new plan. An NFL spokesman said Tuesdays labor talks ended when the union "made a pension proposal that was entirely inconsistent with what they agreed to at the last session with the mediators.''

Under the proposal on the table, the NFL said, first-year officials, who average 78,000 in salary, would make over 165,000 by the last year of the deal in 2018. Remember, officiating isn't a full-time job.

Should fans care? Absolutely.

Because officials in BCS conferences are tied to NFL officials, replacements wouldnt come from their ranks. Instead, they would be from non-BCS leagues, retired referees and indoor football, ESPN.com reported. So the NFL wouldnt even be getting the next highest level of officiating.

Therefore, not only would we see more questionable calls, but there is also the potential impact on player safety, such a huge emphasis by the NFL right now. Officiating is a large component of avoiding the dangerous plays that the league wants to outlaw. Its unreasonable to assume replacement refs would be as capable of policing these actions as the regular refs.

Plus, wouldnt you miss seeing Ed Hochuli show off his biceps?

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Joe Theismann reveals Alex Smith 'came very, very close to losing his leg'

Joe Theismann reveals Alex Smith 'came very, very close to losing his leg'

Thirty-three years to the day that former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann suffered a gruesome leg injury, Alex Smith suffered the same fate against the Houston Texans.

Theismann addressed the injury similarities between him and Alex Smith on Ian Rapoport's podcast, "RapSheet and Friends."

"I was there that night," Theismann said. "I looked at it and I turned to [my wife] Robin and I said 'that's exactly like mine.'"

At that moment, Theismann was worried the injury was so severe Smith wouldn't be able to recover.

"He came very, very close to losing his leg and fortunately, you know, he still has it," Theismann said. "Alex for sure will not play this year."

With Case Keenum, Colt McCoy and 2019 first-round draft pick Dwayne Haskins in the fold, Theismann noted it'll be hard for Smith to break back into the Redskins quarterback lineup.

"Ask yourself the question, 'Will he be able to compete as a starter?'" Theismann pondered. "Because you can't pay somebody $20 million as a backup. Just can't happen." 

When asked if Smith could return and play at a high level, Theismann alluded to the problems that quarterbacks with leg injuries can have when trying to recover, especially when it comes to mechanics.

"I would say 'let's see how you feel one year from now,'" Theismann noted. "Picture a pitcher not being able to push off the mound. Picture a quarterback not being able to load his weight and go forward.

"And so what happens is when you think of that throwing mechanism, his body, his arm, his legs, his ability to turn and push, if one of those elements is lessened, the other areas have to make up for it."

Smith recently had the external fixator removed from his leg and noted that he's making incremental steps towards playing again.

"It's gonna be a long road," Theismann said of Smith's recovery.

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10 Questions for Training Camp: Want better offense? Get better play from the tight ends

10 Questions for Training Camp: Want better offense? Get better play from the tight ends

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

10) Will the Redskins develop depth on the D-line?

9) Can the Redskins count on Montae Nicholson?

Over-simplification can be dangerous, but at the same time, some problems boil down to a root cause. 

The Redskins play-action pass game looked bad in 2018, and if you listen to head coach Jay Gruden, much of that might have hinged on the ability of his tight ends to run block. 

Back in March Gruden opened up about some of his team's offensive struggles in 2018 and the coach pointed out that his tight end rotation varied greatly on if the team was going to run or pass. Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis tended to come off the field in clear run situations, while Jeremy Sprinkle didn't get many snaps on pass plays. 

As the season went on, that became obvious for opposing defense. 

"Your tendencies are probably through the roof when you throw, that's what we're trying to guard against," Gruden said at the NFL League Meetings. "We got to figure out ways to be balanced in all personnel group settings and make sure that's really what we're studying in the offseason and moving forward how we can adapt our running game to make sure we have the equal amount of runs in each personnel group with each person in that group."

Sure those quotes are a few months old now, but nothing has been done to change the personnel. Reed, Davis and Sprinkle populate the tight end depth chart, and it doesn't seem likely there will be significant change to any of the three player's game. 

Based on that, something else must change. 

The Redskins either need to adapt their run style to something where Reed and/or Davis can be on the field. Or use Sprinkle more in the pass game.

Neither of those options seem particularly likely. 

What could happen is less two tight sets for the Washington offense, and less dependency on that look. 

In his remarks from March, Gruden hinted that the Redskins could deploy their 11 personnel more often, going with three wideouts and one tight, instead of two tight ends on the field. That would require health and productivity from the Redskins wideouts, which hasn't happened in the last two seasons. 

In a way, the discussion of a blocking tight end is very much an oversimplification of the Redskins 2018 offensive woes. The team ranked 29th in the NFL in points scored, and obviously, that lack of production did not stem from one position. 

At the same time, however, the lack of a tight end that can run block and show up in the pass game creates a series of other problems. The team can't always run with their best receiving threats on the field, they can't pull off play-action because the run threat doesn't always emerge, and all of that snowballs. 

The little things add up in the NFL. Just ask Jay Gruden. 

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