Fisher unhappy with Sunday's officiating

September, 16, 2013
9/16/13
8:00
PM ET
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher offered his version of “Upon Further Review” on Monday afternoon, making it abundantly clear he didn’t agree with the majority of the seven penalty flags his team drew against the Atlanta Falcons.

“In my opinion we should have been penalized twice,” Fisher said. “I was upset after the ballgame but looking at the tape, those are incorrect calls.”

For the second consecutive week, the Rams had seven penalties called on them. Unlike last week when many of the flags thrown against them were more obvious calls such as taunting or late hits, many of the flags thrown by referee Scott Green's crew against the Rams this week fell into more of a gray area.

[+] EnlargeJeff Fisher
Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY SportsJeff Fisher is optimistic that his Rams will soon be a contender in the competitive NFC West.
Of course, the one penalty that shouldn’t have been up for debate was the one that drew most of Fisher’s ire and was one that set a bad tone for the rest of the game.

On Atlanta’s opening drive, the Falcons faced a third-and-12 at their 23. Just before the snap, right tackle Lamar Holmes jumped out of his stance and Rams defensive end Chris Long, rushing out of a two-point stance, reacted instantly.

This one probably didn’t need tape review as it appeared to be a clear false start, but the officiating crew didn’t blow the play dead and the flag eventually went against Long for being offside.

“It’s like ‘False Start 101’ and you have got a third-and-12 and we’re called for offsides and we now have a third-and-7 they convert,” Fisher said. “If it’s called correctly you have a third-and-17. Third-and-17s are hard to convert. We most likely have a three-and-out and get the ball back. Instead they go down and score on the first drive.”

As I noted in Sunday’s edition of “Locker Room Buzz,” Long wasn’t afraid to share his frustrations with the call.

"They’ll watch tape, too, and they’ll get better just like we will," he said after the game.

Elsewhere in the penalty mix, the Rams had four flags thrown against them on special teams, an area Fisher originally voiced his concerns about when asked after the game Sunday.

Fisher changed his mind on those calls after watching the tape, too, going so far as to note that he believed the special teams improved from its strong Week 1 performance.

“It’s different than it appeared and what we felt last night,” Fisher said. “Those penalties should not be called. It’s just kind of how the game went.”

That leaves just two calls that Fisher agreed with: a holding penalty on center Scott Wells in the third quarter and an illegal motion that went against Austin Pettis in the second quarter.

Fisher also pointed to some calls that didn’t go the Rams’ way in the game as another area of frustration. He made mention Sunday of tight end Jared Cook being grabbed as a way of taking him out of the game and mentioned a potential intentional grounding call against Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan that went without a flag.

After discussing the penalties for a few minutes, Fisher made it a point to say that he is not placing blame on the officials for the Rams’ loss and for a coach who has long worked closely with the officiating department in his role on the competition committee, Fisher probably wouldn’t be so open about his difference of opinion if he didn’t have such a strong belief in his.

“It’s the human element in the game,” Fisher said. “There are calls that are going to be missed every week. That’s part of it. Our department is doing the best job they can.”

If nothing else, Green's crew has proved to be equal in its first two games this year. It called exactly seven penalties each against the Rams and Falcons on Sunday and exactly seven per side last week in the Houston-San Diego game.

Green and his crew also officiated the Rams-Tampa Bay game in December of last year. The Rams were penalized nine times for 64 yards to the Bucs' one penalty for 5 yards in that game.

Nick Wagoner

ESPN St. Louis Rams reporter

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