NFL Referees

Everyone's making a fuss over the NFL's lack of adequate referees, and hey, nobody's perfect. But the NFL's head of officiating says that some of the complaining is misguided.

Yes, there have been some high-profile flubs. But on the whole, referees aren't making any more mistakes than in years' past.

In a conversation with Pro Football Talk, the NFL's Dean Blandino said the increased scrutiny of refs may be the result of greater access to replays and improved viewing angles coming from broadcasts.

Bruce Arians

"I think technology has been great for us, it's been a great training tool, but it's also allowed for more people to have more outlets to critique officiating," Blandino said. "Look, we've had some mistakes in some high profile situations. There's no way around that. We own that. We have to make sure that we correct those things.

"Our mistake rate isn't any different than it's been in years past, but we have had some high profile situations and people have more avenues to discuss those things."

Blandino says there are, on average, 4.5 correctable mistakes by officials in every game. Some are minor; some cost the Bills a potential touchdown in a close game against AFC East rival New England.

But there are some signs that indicate referees may not be as polished -- and so might be more susceptible to egregious mistakes on a large stage. According to ESPN, 19 percent of the NFL's full-time roster of officials are working with two or fewer years of experience.

The turnover rate is the highest it's been in at least 13 years, and it means that a small group of highly experienced referees has been balanced out by a young group that is still wet behind the ears.

In the playoffs and Super Bowl, these problems will wash away: Only the highest-rated, experienced officiating crews will work in the postseason. As for the regular season, there may be some ugly bumps along the way, but the overall body of officiating work is about par for the course.

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