NFC West: John Parry


SAN FRANCISCO -- Since 2009, referee John Parry's crews have thrown none of the 37 defensive holding flags targeting players ESPN lists as interior defensive linemen.

That's something to keep in mind after New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith "gets away with murder" by holding offensive linemen to free up pass-rushing teammates.

Parry's crew has been assigned to work the Giants-49ers game from Candlestick Park later Sunday.

Smith plays defensive end in the 49ers' 3-4 scheme, but he shifts inside on passing downs. He's listed as a defensive tackle in ESPN's penalty database, as are some other 3-4 defensive ends with the ability to play tackle. Arizona's Darnell Dockett is another player in that category.

Referees are not solely responsible for all the calls their crews make, of course. And in some cases, crews have changed over the years.

But if Parry's crew calls Smith for what has been a rarely called infraction against defensive linemen in general, we'll have something to talk about.

As 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh put it in a statement Friday, "Kevin Gilbride's outrageous, irrational statement regarding Justin Smith’s play is, first, an absurd analogy. Second, it is an incendiary comment targeting one of the truly exemplary players in this league. It's obvious that the Giants coaching staff’s sole purpose is to use their high visibility to both criticize and influence officiating."

The chart shows defensive holding calls by non-replacement referees. Thirty-four of the 37 were on first, second or third downs.
INDIANAPOLIS — Watch out for offensive holding penalties in Super Bowl XLVI.

Officials have called only eight penalties for holding on offensive plays during the postseason, six of them against the NFC champion New York Giants. Three of the six were against Chris Snee, with two against David Baas and one against David Diehl.

John Parry is the referee for Super Bowl XLVI. His crew ranked third in most penalties for offensive holding during the regular season.

I've put together a chart from ESPN Stats & Information showing where Parry's crew ranked in various penalties during the 2011 season. Parry is working with an all-star crew, not his usual one. That could affect tendencies.

Parry's low ranking for unnecessary roughness appears offset, at least somewhat, by a higher number of calls for generic personal fouls.

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NFC West penalty watch: Giants-49ers ref

January, 20, 2012
1/20/12
11:26
AM ET
NFL officiating crews have largely stayed in the background in the playoffs this season.

ESPN's John Clayton, in putting together his weekend preview, thinks the New York Giants could be in line for more holding calls with Ed Hochuli assigned to the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers. Count @DLucasTaylor among those wondering what the Hochuli assignment might mean more broadly.

Before taking a look at potential tendencies for Hochuli, we should note that the NFL switches to all-star officiating crews beginning in the championship round. As much as Hochuli seems to relish making calls, he cannot make all of them. Having a different crew could affect tendencies.

Referees do tend to be the ones calling holding against left tackles and roughing the passer.

The 49ers defeated New Orleans last week even though they declined the only penalty John Parry's crew called against the Saints. New Orleans declined two of the five penalties called against the 49ers in that game. Parry, who also worked the 49ers' game at Baltimore this season, appears in line to work the Super Bowl.

Hochuli's crew led the NFL in penalties for defensive holding. They also ranked high among the 17 crews for offensive holding and pass interference.

The chart shows where Hochuli's crews ranked among the others for various frequently made calls.
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One NFL head coach rated John Parry as the league's best referee for a confidential survey back in 2008.

San Francisco 49ers fans might recall Parry for the disputed chop-block call he made against running back Frank Gore at Baltimore in Week 12. The flag wiped out a 75-yard touchdown pass to Ted Ginn Jr. in a game the 49ers lost, 16-6.

That call comes to mind this week after the NFL assigned Parry's crew to work the 49ers' divisional playoff game against New Orleans on Saturday.

Coach John Harbaugh called the ruling in Baltimore "unfortunate" and "unlucky" given what he considered that specific penalty's somewhat inconsistent enforcement.

That was the only chop-block penalty Parry's crew called during the regular season. The NFL did not fine Gore for the block. I thought the call was technically accurate, at best, but it did not fulfill the intent of the rule, which was to protect players. Gore had already committed to deliver a low block when tackle Anthony Davis shoved the defender high.

With an assist from ESPN Stats & Information, I've put together a chart showing where Parry's crew ranks among the 17 crews in various penalty calls. The NFL shifts to all-star crews for championship games and the Super Bowl.

Parry's low ranking for unnecessary roughness appears offset, at least somewhat, by a higher number of calls for generic personal fouls.
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2011 49ers Week 12: Five observations

November, 25, 2011
11/25/11
2:26
PM ET
Five things I noticed while watching the San Francisco 49ers' game against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night:
  • 49ers must not trust their coverage. That's one way to explain the team's continued aversion to sending more than four pass-rushers. We could also say the 49ers trust their ability to get pressure with only four rushers. Rushing fewer than five wasn't getting results against the Ravens, however, and still the 49ers refused to send added pressure. They sent five or more rushers on only three drop-backs, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Joe Flacco completed 1 of 2 passes for 10 yards on these plays, with both pass attempts coming on second down. He also scrambled for a 6-yard gain on third-and-7 when the 49ers brought more than four. Flacco completed 7 of 10 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown on third down. Four of the 49ers' last five opponents have converted at least 41.2 percent of their third-down opportunities, above the league average (38.4). The 49ers seemingly could have done more to pressure Flacco, unless they feared giving up a big play to Torrey Smith. Flacco entered the game with below-average numbers against added pressure, however (41.5 Total QBR, 75.7 NFL passer rating).
  • Alex Smith wasn't going to lose the game, or win it. The 49ers would rather take sacks than risk interceptions. This approach makes sense overall given the team's strength on defense and special teams, and given Smith's strengths/weaknesses. The 49ers took this approach to the extreme in this game, absorbing nine sacks. The protection was poor, but no quarterback should take nine sacks, no matter what protection issues exist. The 49ers needed better quick-throw options against pressure.
  • Wide receiver play was a liability. Michael Crabtree continued to make strides as a receiver. Ted Ginn Jr., despite dropping a pass late in the game, made a strong play for what would have been a 75-yard touchdown reception without a 49ers penalty. The 49ers need more from Braylon Edwards and Kyle Williams, particularly when their tight ends are needed in pass protection. Edwards has struggled to produce through injuries and made no play on the end-zone pass Baltimore intercepted. The pass Williams dropped near the left sideline appeared likely to gain significant yardage.
  • Blueprints can be overrated. One school of thought says the Ravens showed future 49ers opponents, specifically playoff opponents, how to expose San Francisco's weaknesses. This line of thinking has limitations. Baltimore's defense fed off its home crowd. The 49ers will be the home team for at least one playoff game. Also, the Ravens' defense is better than the defenses San Francisco is likely to face in the NFC playoffs. The 49ers will have an easier time running the ball against, say, New Orleans. That doesn't mean we should disregard what happened Thursday night. The 49ers obviously must improve on offense. This marked the 49ers' first game without a possession in the red zone since their 2010 shutout defeat to Tampa Bay, and their second since it happened to them against Baltimore during the 2007 season.
  • Getting Adam Snyder healthy is key. The 49ers were not a guard away from beating the Ravens, by any stretch. They've been much better up front with Snyder in the lineup, however. They were worse off once a hamstring injury sidelined him. Bad things seem to happen when Rachal is in the game. His split-second decision to shove Ravens safety Bernard Pollard after teammate Frank Gore's cut block on Pollard produced a chop-block penalty against Gore, nullifying that 75-yard touchdown reception. Gore had played 94 games previously without incurring a chop-block penalty. The referee in this game, John Parry, had called only one chop block since becoming a ref in 2007, and none since 2008.

I'm heading to San Francisco for the 49ers' game against St. Louis in Week 13. First, though, I'm set to attend the Seattle Seahawks' home games against Washington and Philadelphia.

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.
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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.

Hasselbeck entertains before, during game

November, 13, 2009
11/13/09
12:49
PM ET
NFL Network featured a miked-up Matt Hasselbeck during a look back at the Seahawks' victory over the Lions in Week 9.

Entertaining stuff.

"What's the ref's name?" Hasselbeck asked coach Jim Mora before kickoff.

"John Parry," Mora said.

Hasselbeck then walked over to greet an unsuspecting Parry.

"Hey, John, how you doing?" Hasselbeck said, as if reconnecting with an old pal. "Good to see you."

Parry asked about Hasselbeck's health. Hasselbeck said he was fine, then turned around the question.

"Your crew healthy?" Hasselbeck asked. "A lot of muscle pulls lately in the referee circuit."

"We're out of shape," Parry quipped.

The kid serving as a Seahawks honorary captain wore Aaron Curry's No. 59 jersey to midfield for the pregame coin toss. Hasselbeck, upon seeing former teammate Julian Peterson wearing No. 59 for the Lions, jokingly made sure Peterson knew the kid wasn't wearing his old jersey.

"It's not a throwback," Hasselbeck said.

Peterson laughed. During the game, Hasselbeck accused Peterson of listening in on the Seahawks' huddle. When Peterson turned away, Hasselbeck came up behind him and jokingly tried to read plays off the color-coded wristband Peterson was wearing.

Hasselbeck also showed expert lobbying skills during the game after drawing the Lions offsides. While teammates tried to plead with officials, who could have called a false start, Hasselbeck pulled them away and said, loud enough for officials to hear, "It's an obvious call. He saw it."

Officials laughed.

The call did go in Seattle's favor.
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.

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