Earlier this month the NFL announced they are moving umpires from the defensive side of the ball to the offensive backfield in 2010.
The move was made to protect umpires, but it’s a move Green Bay Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy thinks could have affected the outcome of the Packers playoff game with the Arizona Cardinals, had it been in effect last season.
“I think it definitely would have helped [against Arizona],” McCarthy said. “Our quarterback, I think, definitely could be protected more than he was last year [by officials]. There were a number of times that he was hit and penalties weren’t called and fines probably followed.”
One of those times was in the Packers’ overtime playoff loss to the Cardinals, as McCarthy noted. The first play that may have been called was a helmet-to-helmet hit on Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers by Cardinals’ defensive end Bertand Berry. The NFL later admitted there should have been a penalty and fined Berry $5000. The other was a facemask on the final play of the game. Rodgers fumbled on the play and Arizona linebacker Karlos Dansby returned it for the winning score. The NFL shrugged that play off.
Would having an umpire in the offensive backfield have changed the outcome of the game? Possibly, but that doesn’t really matter now.
Several observers expect moving the umpire will help protect quarterbacks even more than they already are and will open up the passing game even further. In addition to more penalty flags, receivers will have the opportunity to run unfettered through the middle of the field, although they won’t be able to use the umpire for picks anymore.
On the flip side, there may be fewer defensive holding penalties called with the umpires on the offensive side of the ball.
Either way, it will be interesting to see how the game evolves.