While reviewing recent games officiated by Jeff Triplette’s crew, as well as researching his history in the league, I felt confident that the Ravens would be in good shape from an officiating standpoint in their match up against Cleveland this past week.
I could not have been any more wrong.
The Ravens limped away from their loss with a total of 12 penalties for 98 yards. Those 12 penalties were the second most of Week 5, and the 98 yards were the fourth most in the week. Through five games the Ravens have a total of 42 penalties (T-sixth most) for 368 yards (fifth most). Those numbers are glaring and downright atrocious.
With numerous false starts, offsides, neutral zone infractions and personal fouls, I see a major lack of discipline with far too many mental lapses, and it’s costing the team wins in the end. Look at a few instances from this past week:
–Lawrence Guy flagged for Roughing the Passer after McCown was picked off by Webb. Ravens would’ve had the ball with short field, instead Cleveland continued their drive.
–Jason Babin flagged for Illegal Use of Hands on an incomplete 3rd & 9 pass. Cleveland would’ve been forced to attempt a FG, instead scored a touchdown.
Not to say that those plays were THE determining factors in the game; this is simply giving prime examples of the Ravens have PlaxicoBurressitis (always shooting themselves in the foot).
And while the Ravens’ self inflicted wounds were severe enough to change the outcome of the game much more than any officiating errors, I think Jeff Triplette’s crew still has some much deserved criticism headed their way.
The glaring issue with this crew can be seen in two consecutive plays in which John Harbaugh had to use a challenge where the officials should have easily made a right call the first time.
The first play was a Duke Johnson swing pass where he broke down the sidelines for what was initially called a 44 yard completion.
John Harbaugh immediately threw the flag, saying the runner stepped out back at the Ravens 48-yard line. Without hesitation the CBS broadcast team had the replay in slow-mo, and it was definitive that Johnson had stepped out.
What makes this worse is that the officials head is up. Given the development of the play, as he’s headed down the sidelines he should be watching the feet of the receiver to ensure he stays in bounds. As a result, Harbaugh had to call a challenge, and luckily it was quick to overturn.
On the very next play, McCown slings a pass out to Brian Hartline, who initially gets his hands on the ball, but loses control going to the ground without question.
Here’s the breakdown to validate the incomplete pass, as the ball is jarred loose before Hartline hits the deck.
Once again, the officials missed an easy call along the sideline, and Harbaugh had to burn another challenge.
The other issue with this crew is Jeff Triplette himself.
Personally, I can appreciate a long tenure in a profession, especially officiating, as a long tenure typically means you’re doing something right, or else they would’ve fired you. Unfortunately, it seems that in the case of Triplette, the NFLRA is holding on to him for nostalgic reasons more than anything else.
In Sunday’s game, Triplette incorrectly announced a handful of calls in a handful of different ways. As a matter of fact, the very first play of the game drew a flag against the Ravens for a hold on the return, which Triplette announced as a hold on the ‘defense’ instead of the return team.
This trend continued throughout the game, as Triplette was guilty of announcing the wrong player for a penalty, fumbled through his calls with the wording, announced the wrong down, and got confused on the penalty yards.
Again, I am all for a referee with a long tenure, but after 20 years in the NFL, and with the frequency of these issues growing at a steady rate, I believe it’s time for Jeff Triplette to call it a career.