Longtime NFL reporter Rick Gosselin knows an interesting statistic when he sees one. Hang in there, Purple devotee, because you’re not going to like this one.
âGoose,â who is a GOAT in this profession, passed on a nugget this week that is sure to unsettle paranoid Vikings fans who already think every NFL official is there to get their beloved purple, especially when they play the hated green and gold.
As noted by Gosselin, and the excellent details from the NFL Pro Football Reference site, the team of officials led by referee Shawn Hochuli has called nine games this season. The home team are 1-8 and are leading an eight-game losing streak.
What’s next for Shawn and the gang?
US Bank Stadium Sunday. Home team: Vikings (4-5). Visitors: Packers (8-2). And the only thing that depends on the outcome is whether the Vikings drag the Packers into NFC North by 2Â½ or 4Â½ games with seven to go.
But wait. Before we storm Shawn’s hotel and put him on a streetcar bound for the airport, let’s add some context.
Home teams in those nine games were only penalized twice more overall (63-61) for 24 yards (557-533). The flags were therefore fairly distributed.
Of the eight road winners, half of them – the Patriots on the Jets, the Bengals on the Lions, the Saints on the Seahawks and the Eagles on the Broncos – were favorites to win. So they did what they were supposed to do.
In each of the four upheavals on the road – Chargers at Chiefs, Cardinals at Rams, Eagles at Panthers and Steelers at Browns – the home team lost the revenue battle, combining for a revenue differential of minus-8 (10-2). Officials do not force turnarounds.
Additionally, four of the eight home losers lost 23, 19, 17 and 17 points. It is too many points to start pointing fingers at the officials.
The other four home losers were shot down by one-scoring decisions.
In the Saints’ 13-10 victory in Seattle, Hochuli himself, as a referee, called on the passer to strain to quash a key Seahawks third sack. Eleven games later, New Orleans kicked off the winning basket. It should be noted, however, that Hocholi’s crew also called the offensive pass interference on the Saints’ decisive disc.
To be fair, Hochuli also called the passer a strain against the visiting Steelers in the dying minutes of their 15-10 win at Cleveland. That gave the Browns the ball at Pittsburgh 24 with 2:57 left, but Cleveland couldn’t capitalize.
All of this raises the question of whether head coaches are studying the team of officials to which they are assigned.
“Yes, every week. Every week,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “Whether it’s a crew that inflicts high penalties. What is their team doing. Who are their penalties? What are the crew looking for.”
Are there a lot of differences?
âYeah, there is,â Zimmer said. “Some are looking for more taunts and brutality with the smuggler. And some are looking for more DPI [defensive pass interference] and illegal hands to the face. They are different so we try to talk to [the players about them] every week.
“Like last week [against the Chargers] was one ofâ¦ “Zimmer said before pausing and looking over to Bob Hagan, his PR manager.” I’m not sure if I should say thisâ¦ “
âProbably not,â Hagan advised.
Zimmer ignored the sign of a grab and swung over to the crew who nailed their team with 10 penalties for a peak 118 yards.
âLast week, when the game started, it was one of the teams with the lowest appeal penalties in the league, and there were [calls] there, “Zimmer said.” The pass interference on [Bashaud] Breeland. You know. So they called a lot more than we expected, yeah. “
Hochuli’s crew are averaging 13.78 penalties for 121.11 yards per game. That’s 1.02 more penalties for 9.95 more yards per game than the league average.
He called 50.81% of his 124 penalties against the home team. The league average is 48.8%.
And the big deal, of course, is the home team’s winning percentage of 0.111 in matches called up by the Hocholi squad. The league average is actually less than 0.500, at 0.490 this year. But that’s still 0.380 more than Hochuli’s crew.
Not that Vikings fans would ever blame the officials, right?