NFC West: Jeff Triplette

NFC West penalty watch: Refs and roughing

November, 5, 2011
11/05/11
10:30
AM ET
The 2011 Official Playing Rules and Casebook of the National Football League devotes 1,127 words to the section on roughing the passer.

Twenty-two words near the end sum up the spirit:
"If in doubt about a roughness call or potentially dangerous tactic on the quarterback, the referee should always call roughing the passer."

That sentence pretty much absolves referees from blame for penalizing acts that seem to be borderline infractions.

We discussed one such penalty against the Arizona Cardinals' Calais Campbell earlier.

Campbell leads the NFC West in roughing-the-passer penalties since 2009 with three. Teammate Clark Haggans, the San Francisco 49ers' Ahmad Brooks, the Seattle Seahawks' Raheem Brock and ex-Seahawk Patrick Kerney have two apiece since then.

Instead of focusing on players, I've put together a chart showing how many roughing calls each of the 17 current referees has called since 2009. Note that Clete Blakeman was not a referee until 2010. Officiating crews change members from time to time, but the referees are the ones responsible for most roughing calls, so these numbers hold up better.

Some referees call more penalties than others overall. Some have surely encountered more instances of roughing than others. But if you're a defensive end eager to mete out some old-school punishment on the opposing quarterback, it wouldn't hurt to know which referee was working the game that day.
.
An end-of-season look at where NFL officiating crews rank in a few categories where discretion and controversy tend to apply, listed by referee (with Walt Coleman scheduled to work Seattle's wild-card game Sunday):

The second chart breaks down defensive pass-interference numbers by crew for the last three seasons.

The next chart breaks down offensive pass interference by crew for the 2010 season only.
Note that Coleman's crew has called only one such penalty this season, second-fewest in the league behind Seattle favorite Bill Leavy.

The next chart breaks down the offensive pass-interference calls by crew for the last three seasons.

The final chart shows three-year totals for roughing the passer, by crew.

Seattle fans might remember the controversial roughing penalty against Seahawks defensive end Raheem Brock during the team's defeat at New Orleans in Week 11.

The pivotal play did not draw a fine, tacit admission that referee Mike Carey's crew erred on the call.

Coleman's crews have only four roughing calls over the last three seasons, fewest in the league among referees working continuously since 2008.

Note: All info from ESPN Stats & Information and includes declined penalties.

Officially speaking: Hochuli's PI calls

November, 18, 2010
11/18/10
4:12
PM ET
With apologies to St. Louis Rams fans trying to forget about the costly pass-interference call against safety Oshiomogho Atogwe in Week 10, I'll pass along stats showing interference calls by officiating crew.

Referee Ed Hochuli's crew worked the Rams' game in Week 10. His crews have called the most penalties of any kind over the last three seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information. His crews rank tied for the most defensive pass interference calls.

The Rams might have picked the wrong officiating crew to tempt with a close call on interference. They might have had a better chance if, say, John Parry's crew were working their game. Parry's crew was off in Week 10, but it has called 15 defensive pass interference penalties since the 2009 opener, compared to 14 for Hochuli's crew this season alone.

Officials are calling more penalties per game overall and more for defensive pass interference, as the final row of the chart indicates.

Officially speaking: Roughing the passer

October, 1, 2010
10/01/10
11:33
AM ET
The NFL is increasingly concerned with protecting quarterbacks.

Sometimes that concern makes it tough for a defensive player to carry out his job aggressively. Sometimes a borderline roughing-the-passer penalty can influence a game's outcome.

When the St. Louis Rams' Oshiomogho Atogwe and Fred Robbins drew roughing-the-passer penalties during a 16-14 defeat at Oakland in Week 2, the plays wound up factoring into the outcome significantly. The foul against Atogwe sustained a Raiders drive to a field goal. The foul against Robbins, which seemed like a borderline call from the Rams' perspective, allowed Oakland to run out the clock.

What if Robbins in particular had known that the referee that day, Tony Corrente, called far more roughing penalties than some of his peers? Might Robbins have backed off instead of giving Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski a little shove? I'll try to ask Robbins Sunday following the Rams' game against Seattle.

It's entirely possible the referees with more roughing calls witnessed more cases of roughing. It's also reasonable to think referees apply slightly different standards when determining whether to call roughing the passer. Crews associated with Corrente and Ed Hochuli call more non-roughing penalties than other referees, so it's no surprise to see them near the top of the list for roughing, too. Al Riveron ranks tied for first in roughing calls and 10th in non-roughing penalties since 2008.

The chart, put together with information provided by Hank Gargiulo of ESPN Stats & Information, shows how many roughing-the-passer penalties each referee's crew has called (including declined penalties) over the last three seasons. Note that Clete Blakeman is a first-year referee. The others listed have worked as referees since at least 2008.

Tari writes via Facebook: How would you go about researching which NFL officiating crews throw the most laundry? I am curious for the sake of pure argument, but my buddy wants to know for his fantasy league team.

Mike Sando: I have personally tracked assessed penalties and replay challenges since Mike Holmgren complained about officiating in Super Bowl XL. I also went back through records to include data since 2001. ESPN Stats & Information also tracks this information. My replay information is more detailed because it counts booth challenges, but its referee information is superior because it counts declined penalties, not just accepted ones. Its information also breaks down penalty types by crew.

Based on my records, Ron Winter's crews have assessed more penalties per game since 2003 than those headed by any of the 16 other current referees. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Winter's crew is calling more total penalties per game -- accepted plus declined -- than any other crew in 2009.

Scott Green is working the 49ers-Packers game in Week 11. Ed Hochuli is working the Seahawks-Vikings game. I'll check on the Cardinals-Rams referee once I get to the Edward Jones Dome a little later.

Referee Since 2002 Roughing the Passer Penalties
Ed Hochuli 68
Terry McAulay
57
Ron Winter
54
Tony Corrente
53
Jeff Triplette
47
Mike Carey
43
Walt Coleman
28
Bill Leavy
18
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

CHICAGO -- The Cardinals' defense naturally wants to punish Bears quarterback Jay Cutler in their Week 9 matchup at Soldier Field.

A little advice: Make sure those quarterback hits fall within the rules.

Ed Hochuli, the referee assigned to work this game, leads all 17 referees in penalties for roughing the passer this season. He also leads all referees in roughing calls since 2002. The chart breaks down the numbers for all officials who have worked as referees continuously since then.

Hochuli leads the NFL with six roughing calls this season.

The Cardinals' Chike Okeafor led all NFL players in roughing penalties with eight from 2001 through the 2008 season. Safety Adrian Wilson and defensive lineman Darnell Dockett combined for five. Arizona has committed only one such penalty this season, by linebacker Karlos Dansby in Week 7.
Referee 2009 Replay Challenges
2009 Replay Reversals
Don Carey
13 6
Al Riveron
11 6
Scott Green
9 5
Walt Coleman
10 4
John Parry
10 4
Mike Carey
9 3
Jerome Boger
7 3
Carl Cheffers
7 3
Gene Steratore
7 3
Terry McAulay
5 3
Ron Winter
16 2
Ed Hochuli
8 2
Jeff Triplette
6 2
Walt Anderson
5 2
Tony Corrente
5 1
Peter Morelli
5 1
Bill Leavy
2 1
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

NFL officiating director Mike Pereira made no mention during his "Official Review" show of the dubious tripping penalty called against the Vikings in Week 7.

I'll try to pick up the slack.

Referee Ron Winter and his crew are almost never wrong, apparently.

Head coaches and the replay official assigned to Winter have challenged his crew 16 times this season, a league high. Winter has reversed only two of those calls. The other referees have reversed 41.1 percent of calls put under review.

The 17 officiating crews have worked between five and seven games this season. Winter's crew has worked six. His crew has faced 2.7 challenges per game. The other crews have faced 1.4 challenges per game.

Winter's crew is calling 16.8 penalties per game, including declined penalties. Only the crews of Jerome Boger (17.7), Ed Hochuli (17.2) and Walt Coleman (also 16.8) are calling as many. Winter's crew has previously ranked among the most prolific in calling penalties.

The tripping call against the Vikings' Jeff Dugan was one of only 13 tripping penalties called in the NFL this season. The Vikings thought it was a horrible call and I thought it was horrible as well.

Officially speaking: Inside the numbers

October, 16, 2009
10/16/09
10:39
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Referee 2009 Replay Challenges
2009 Replay Reversals
Don Carey
11 6
Al Riveron
10 5
Jerome Boger
7 3
Scott Green
6 3
Gene Steratore
6 3
Terry McAulay
5 3
John Parry
6 2
Carl Cheffers
5 2
Ron Winter
14 1
Mike Carey
6 1
Walt Coleman
5 1
Tony Corrente
4 1
Jeff Triplette
4 1
Ed Hochuli
3 1
Peter Morelli
3 1
Bill Leavy
1 0
Walt Anderson
0 0

joe_cool585 sized up the referee breakdowns from Week 5 and said, "The real question is, how many of each referee's challenged calls have been overturned?"

Easy enough.

Rookie referee Don Carey still holds the league lead for reversals, but the field is gaining on him. Carey suffered two reversals in Week 1, three in Week 2, one in Week 3 and none in Weeks 4 or 5. He is one of eight referees -- there are 17 -- to work each week this season.

Carey, second-year ref Al Riveron and veteran Ron Winter have faced a combined 35 coach- and booth-initiated challenges this season. Veteran Walt Anderson has faced none. Winter's stat line stands out for its unusually low reversal rate. Winter has reversed only one of the league-high 14 challenges he has faced while working only four games. Weird.

I've asked officiating director Mike Pereira about these sorts of disparities in past seasons. He has basically said he doesn't care about the numbers as long as officials are making the correct calls. I like replay stats because reversals document those errors referees acknowledge.

Pereira covered a few controversial plays from Week 5 in his weekly Official Review segment. I thought his explanation for the weird taunting call in the Patriots-Broncos game held up better than expected. It sure looked "fishy" (Pereria's words).

I've been tracking replay stats for years. ESPN Stats & Information also tracks penalty stats by crew. Terry McAulay's crew has flagged offensive linemen only six times this season. The crews of Jerome Boger, Anderson, Winter, Walt Coleman, Ed Hochuli and Scott Green have each called at least 23 penalties against offensive lines. That's an aspect of officiating I'll explore in the coming weeks.

The crews of Coleman and Hochuli have each called 10 penalties for offensive holding against offensive linemen. The crews of McAulay (3), Don Carey (3), Riveron (3) and Peter Morelli (2) have combined to call just 11.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


Referee 2009 Coach-Initiated Challenges
Per Game
Don Carey
8 2.0
Ron Winter
8 2.0
Al Riveron
7 1.8
John Parry
5 1.7
Gene Steratore
4 1.0
Jeff Triplette
3 1.0
Jerome Boger
3 0.8
Mike Carey
3 0.8
Walt Coleman
3 0.8
Scott Green
3 0.8
Carl Cheffers
2 0.7
Terry McAulay
2 0.7
Ed Hochuli
2 0.5
Peter Morelli
1 0.3
Tony Corrente
1 0.3
Bill Leavy
1 0.3
Walt Anderson
0 0.0
The angry coach is a staple of sports with an entire line of Coors Light commercials to prove it.

Someone should market a Coaches Gone Wild video.

Coaches' cardiologists might disagree, but there's something utterly amusing about a grown man spewing steam toward an unsympathetic referee.

With those visuals in mind, I made an initial stab at putting together a referee satisfaction index for this season. The chart shows how many times head coaches have challenged each NFL referee through Week 4.

Challenges are subjective. Most are futile. Some seem to represent emotional, even petty overreactions by teed off coaches. It's interesting to me that coaches issue more wasted challenges during home games, when throwing the red flag can appease the locals, if only temporarily.

The Vikings' Brad Childress, for example, has a 9-8 challenge record on the road and a 5-14 challenge record at home, based on my records. His predecessor, Mike Tice, was even worse (5-7 road, 1-10 home). The Jaguars' Jack Del Rio (8-13 road, 8-20 home), the Titans' Jeff Fisher (7-6 road, 6-13 home) and the Bears' Lovie Smith (11-14 road, 5-17 home) are similarly futile home challenges. Former 49ers coach Mike Nolan (6-4 road, 6-13 home) was another futile home challenger.

Coaches have focused their challenges disproportionately.

Four of 17 NFL referees account for half of the 56 coach-initiated replay challenges through Week 4. Head coaches have challenged three refs -- Don Carey, Ron Winter and Al Riveron -- 23 times already. Carey is a first-year ref. Riveron is a second-year ref. Winter denied four challenges in Week 4, including two raised by the Ravens. Winter's satisfaction rating among the Ravens could use a little restoration.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Referee 2009 Replay Reversals
Don Carey
6
Al Riveron
3
Jerome Boger
2
Terry McAulay
2
John Parry
2
Gene Steratore
2
Mike Carey
1
Carl Cheffers
1
Walt Coleman
1
Tony Corrente
1
Scott Green
1
Ed Hochuli
1
Peter Morelli
1
Jeff Triplette
1
Ron Winter
1
Walt Anderson
0
Bill Leavy
0
AVERAGES
1.5

Based on Jim Mora's general postgame comportment Sunday, the Seahawks' coach is probably fortunate no one asked what role officiating played in the game.

Referee Don Carey, who accounted for five of 19 replay reversals through Week 2, made his league-leading sixth reversal a memorable one when he returned possession to the Bears following Matt Forte's fumble at the Seattle 1-yard line. Linebacker David Hawthorne had recovered for the Seahawks, who held a 13-0 lead at the time.

"A decision will be reversed only when the referee has indisputable visual evidence available to him," the rule book states.

This one appeared inconclusive at best.

Mora's postgame rant against kicker Olindo Mare might have read differently had anyone pressed for his thoughts on Carey's reversal. I doubt he would have the ruling, uh, acceptable.

"If you’re a kicker in the National Football League you should make those kicks -- bottom line," Mora said of Mare. "End of story. Period. No excuses. No wind, doesn’t matter. You’ve gotta makes those kicks. Especially in a game like this, where you’re kicking and fighting and scratching your tail off and you miss those kicks, it’s not acceptable. Not acceptable. Absolutely not acceptable."

Carey suffered two reversals -- and Mike Singletary's ire -- while working the 49ers-Cardinals game in Week 1. He suffered three more reversals in Week 2. The NFL's 17 referees have suffered 26 replay reversals in 48 games this season. More than a third involved calls made by Carey, a rookie referee, and second-year ref Al Riveron.

Seahawks reunited with Super Bowl XL ref

September, 20, 2009
9/20/09
1:12
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


SAN FRANCISCO -- The media flip card at Candlestick Park features a name familiar to Seahawks fans: Bill Leavy.

The veteran referee is working a Seahawks game for the first time since Mike Holmgren complained bitterly about calls that went against Seattle during the team's loss to Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XL after the 2005 season.

This appears to be part of an NFL trend discussed here after Week 1.

For years, the league appeared to shield referees from working games involving teams that suffered from controversial calls, even when those calls were correct.

Walt Coleman still hasn't worked a Raiders game since invoking the tuck rule during the Patriots' playoff victory over Oakland on Jan. 19, 2002. Before last season, Ed Hochuli hadn't worked a Broncos game since Oct. 8, 2000. Before last week, referee Jeff Triplette hadn't worked an Eagles game since Oct. 23, 2001. Those games featured high-profile officiating decisions that worked against the teams involved.

Leavy's crew called controversial penalties against Darrell Jackson, Sean Locklear and Matt Hasselbeck during Super Bowl XL.

"We knew it was going to be tough going up against the Pittsburgh Steelers," coach Mike Holmgren told fans during a postgame rally. "I didn't know we were going to have to play the guys in the striped shirts as well."

Holmgren's departure from the Seahawks after last season might have cleared the way for this unwanted reunion. I have a hard time envisioning the league assigning Leavy to a game featuring Holmgren as one of the coaches.

Officially speaking: Fallout from Week 1

September, 15, 2009
9/15/09
1:40
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Referee 2009 Replay Reversals
Don Carey
2
Mike Carey
1
Carl Cheffers
1
Walt Coleman 1
Terry McAulay
1
Peter Morelli
1
John Parry
1
Al Riveron
1
Gene Steratore
1
Jeff Triplette
1
Walt Anderson
0
Jerome Boger
0
Tony Corrente
0
Scott Green
0
Ed Hochuli
0
Bill Leavy
0
Ron Winter
0
AVERAGES
0.65

Let's just say the Cardinals and 49ers will not be petitioning the NFL to have rookie referee Don Carey work more of their games this season.

Carey was the only NFL referee to suffer more than one replay reversal in Week 1 (he had two). He repeatedly left open his microphone, allowing fans to hear private conversations. And when he was speaking for the record, he bungled explanations.

Niners coach Mike Singletary apparently didn't hear enough from Carey, so he spoke with the new ref during halftime of the team's 20-16 victory at Arizona. The subject?

"You don’t want to know what it was, but it was very positive," said Singletary."He may not say that. Really, what it came down to was, when you are making calls out there, have someone over there near me that can relay some kind of information and I’ll be fine and that’s basically what we talked about and it happened in the second half. It worked out a lot better."

Also on the officiating front in Week 1, the NFL assigned veteran referee Jeff Triplette to work an Eagles game for the first time since Oct. 23, 2001. On that day, Triplette took away an Eagles first down on a fake punt when he ruled, after some delay, that Jeff Thomason had been an ineligible receiver on the play. The fourth-quarter call was correct, but Triplette had already announced that the 7-yard gain was legal because Thomason had lined up on the wing. He changed the call after consulting a card showing the Eagles' special-teams alignments. Philadelphia won, 10-9.

From that game until Sunday, Triplette had worked games for every NFL team but the Eagles and his home-state Panthers. The league seems to be ending some of these referee-team droughts after I pointed them out before last season. The fact that Triplette worked an Eagles-Panthers game -- at Carolina -- jumped out to me.

A year ago, the NFL assigned Ed Hochuli to work a Broncos game for the first time since 2000. Hochuli had worked at least three games for every other team in the league since his crew assessed nine penalties against the Broncos -- three for defensive pass interference and others against the offensive line -- during an Oct. 8, 2000 game.

Walt Coleman still hasn't worked a Raiders game since he correctly -- but controversially -- implemented the tuck rule during a 2002 divisional playoff game between New England and Oakland. Bill Leavy hasn't worked a Seahawks game since Mike Holmgren complained about officiating in Super Bowl XL. Perhaps we'll see that change now that Holmgren is gone and the league is making what appears to be a concerted effort to move past some of these disputes.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Current NFL Referee Penalties Per Game vs. Cardinals*
Penalties Per Game vs. Panthers*
Walt Anderson
8.8
7.1
Jerome Boger
7.6

Mike Carey
7.5
5.3
Bill Carollo
9.0
8.2
Carl Cheffers


Walt Coleman
8.6
5.6
Tony Corrente
6.4
7.2
Scott Green
7.0

Ed Hochuli

8.8
Bill Leavy 6.8
5.6
Terry McAulay
6.3
Peter Morelli 4.8
5.3
John Parry


Al Riveron


Gene Steratore 5.5
4.3
Jeff Triplette
8.3

Ron Winter
9.2
7.3
* Since 2003, minimum four games

Tracking referee statistics this season told us which one assessed the most penalties (Ron Winter), which ones suffered the most replay reversals (Bill Leavy) and which ones almost never faced booth-initiated challeenges (Mike Carey, Bill Carollo).

I've also been looking at which referees tend to assess the most and fewest penalties against certain teams.

The chart shows how many penalties per game each current referee has assessed, on average, against the Cardinals and Panthers since 2003. To avoid aberrations, I considered statistics only for referees who worked at least four gam
es involving each team during that span.

Jeff Triplette never works Panthers games because he's from North Carolina. Arizona resident Ed Hochuli rarely works Cardinals games. Al Riveron and Carl Cheffers were first-year referees, so they did not have enough games to qualify.

Using the stated criteria. Peter Morelli has assessed the fewest penalties per game against the Cardinals (4.8). Winter (9.2) and Carollo have assessed the most (9.0).

For the Panthers, Gene Steratore has assessed the fewest penalties per game over that span (4.3), while Hochuli has assessed the most (8.8).

The league generally does not announce referee assignments in advance, except for the Super Bowl. For a detailed look at officiating stats by referee, please sample my 2008 NFL officiating download. This covers all 256 regular-season games.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Current NFL RefereeArizona Games Since 2003
Penalties Assessed Per Game vs. Cardinals
Walt Coleman
7
8.6
Tony Corrente
7
6.4
Ron Winter
6
9.2
Jeff Triplette
6
8.3
Bill Leavy
6
6.8
Mike Carey6
7.5
Walt Anderson
5
8.8
Jerome Boger
5
7.6
Bill Carollo
5
9.0
Peter Morelli
5
4.8
Gene Steratore
4
5.5
Scott Green
4
7.0
Ed Hochuli
3
8.3
Terry McAulay
3
8.3
Al Riveron 2
3.5
Carl Cheffers
1
8.0
John Parry
0
N/A
AVERAGES
4.4
7.1

While we were musing about John Parry's standing among NFL referees, the league was assigning Parry to work the Falcons-Cardinals playoff game at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Parry, who recently completed his second season as an NFL referee, has officiated games involving every team but the Cardinals. That obviously changes when Atlanta and Arizona kick off at 4:30 p.m. ET.

The chart shows how many Arizona games each current referee has worked since 2003. Note that Ed Hochuli, who lives in Arizona, doesn't work Cardinals games very often.

Al Riveron, who just finished his first season as an NFL ref, worked two Arizona games. The league's other rookie referee, Carl Cheffers, also worked a Cardinals game this season.

Parry finished the 2008 regular season with only one replay reversal of any kind (coach- or booth-initiated). Every other referee suffered at least five. Bill Leavy (11) and Peter Morelli (10) were the only referees in double figures.

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt finished the 2008 regular season with a 2-5 record in replay challenges, including 2-2 at home. Falcons coach Mike Smith also had a 2-5 record. That included 1-4 away from the Georgia Dome.

Referee confidential: Parry the NFL's best?

December, 27, 2008
12/27/08
12:58
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

RefereeCoach-initiated Challenges
Coach-initiated Reversals
Bill Leavy
18
10
Carl Cheffers
16
  8
Jerome Boger
10
  6
Scott Green
14
  6
Peter Morelli
14
  6
Jeff Triplette 17
  6
Al Riveron
12
  5
Terry McAulay
14
  5
Ron Winter
14
  5
Bill Carollo
15
  5
Tony Corrente
  9
  4
Mike Carey
15
  4
Ed Hochuli
  8
  3
Walt Coleman
  9
  3
Walt Anderson
14
  3
Gene Steratore
10
  2
John Parry
11
  1
2008 AVERAGES
12.9
4.8
2007 AVERAGES
14.8
5.5

A few NFL executives have told me they thought John Parry might be the NFL's best referee.

Postseason assignments will tell us what the league thinks, but Parry did get the call for the looming Broncos-Chargers elimination game in Week 17.

The NFL needs to avoid controversy in that game after Ed Hochuli's mistake helped the Broncos beat the Chargers earlier this season. The league's decision to assign Hochuli ended a seven-year period in which the veteran referee never worked a Broncos game.

Back to Parry. As the chart shows, NFL head coaches have reversed only one of his rulings via replay this season, a league low.

My feeling is that referees rarely make mistakes once armed with the latest high-definition video technology. They want to get calls right, and they would face scrutiny from fans and the league if they stubbornly upheld incorrect calls. 

If that is the case, then coach-initiated reversal levels should tell us something about officiating performance. Referees and crews performing at higher levels would probably incur fewer reversals over time. By that measure, Parry seems to hold up well.

Note: I have excluded booth-initiated challenges from this exercise because the league pairs the same replay officials with the same referees each week, and challenge rates can vary significantly. Head coaches also challenge at different rates, but they are not challenging the same referees week after week.

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