Curran: An 'official' complaint

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Curran: An 'official' complaint

FOXBORO -- In a game refereed by Jeff Triplette, neither team really wins. They just survive. Sunday would be an example. There were 14 penalties called (felt like 44) and 12 of them were accepted. Eight went against Washington and four against the Patriots. There were also at least two inadvertent flags thrown that Triplette had to wave off. He also seemed to allow the Redskins to challenge two items on one play -- alleging Rob Gronkowski was both down and stepped out on his 49-yard catch-and-run. His incompetency is special legend.He's the moron that hit Orlando Brown in the eye with an official's flag, was deked by a Peyton Manning fake spike,incorrectly explained overtime rules a couple of weeks back, gave this terrific explanation of a play that couldn't be challenged, and injected himself intoSunday's game with three questionable judgment calls on roughing and unnecessary roughness penalties. One call his crew did get correct? The big offensive pass interference on Santana Moss. Check the video. Now check the rule. (The pertinent part is that offensive pass interference can be called anytime after the ball is snapped and that "initiating contact with a defender by shoving or pushing off thus creating a separation in an attempt to catch a pass" is offensive interference). Moss disagreed. He also referenced the flag on London Fletcher for unnecessary roughness when he hit a starting-to-slide Tom Brady. Mike Shanahan also hated that one. (I think I'm the only one on the planet who thinks it was a debatable call but the correct one. Check the :41 and :42-second mark in this video, Brady is clearly starting his slide and Fletcher is still with feet planted. I believe he could have let up, if not pulled up altogether.) We can all get a pitcher and talk these out. But the bottom line is, the officials are too involved in the game. It's impacting the product. It's creating confusion. The story when the game ends is not the competition but the way the game is adjudicated (I don't get enough chances to use that word). There is a solution. Currently, the directive on officials is -- with roughness calls -- to err on the side of safety. It's gone too far. Guesswork and assumptions are the rule and too many of these calls seem to be presumed rather than witnessed. The technology exists to replay quickly. Get a young guy with a fast eye and good thumbs to replay any 15-yarder within 30 seconds of a play being blown dead. If he doesn't see the infraction, play on. If one existed and it was missed, mete out the justice with fines. Fixing the officiating absolutely has to be Job One at the NFL Owners Meetings in March. It's a hard job, a thankless job and one that these 50 and 60-something men do their best on. But the game's too fast, the players are too big and -- with player safety, technology and tens of millions of fans watching -- the pressure's too much. Now watch Triplette get a playoff game.

Van Noy sees playing-time bump as he learns Patriots language

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Van Noy sees playing-time bump as he learns Patriots language

When Kyle Van Noy was traded to the Patriots in late October, he had a lot to learn. He needed to understand the layout of his new team's maze-like facility. He needed to adjust to a new locker room. He needed to adapt to a new home. 

He also had to become fluent in a new language.

The former Lions 'backer was inactive for two weeks before he was comfortable enough with the Patriots system -- and the coaching staff was comfortable enough with him -- to get on the field. He played 29 snaps against the Niners in first game with his new club, then saw 28 plays against the Jets. On Sunday he saw his role expand as he played 40 of a possible 51 plays, which was more than Shea McClellin (38) or Dont'a Hightower (33). 

"Kyle has done a great job of working really hard to acclimate to what we’re doing, and he has had to learn really fast as far as the system, the communication, the language," said defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on a conference call Tuesday. "It’s like when you go to a different system, offensively or defensively, a lot of times it’s just learning the vernacular and the verbiage . . . That’s a big part of it. Then getting more familiar with that kind of terminology and the communication is critical because there’s a lot of calls and adjustments, things like that that we’ve got to do on the field."

Van Noy was making some of those calls himself on Sunday as he wore the green dot on his helmet when Hightower was on the sidelines. Even with the added responsibility, Van Noy was able to play freely enough that he put together what might have been the best game of his three-year career. 

Used at the end of the line of scrimmage as well as in a more traditional off-the-line linebacker role, Van Noy was effective in defending both the pass and the run: He stuffed three Rams rush attempts, he recorded a quarterback hit that led to an incompletion, he drew a holding call, and he recorded an athletic interception when he tracked a wobbling Jared Goff pass that floated over the middle after Jabaal Sheard hit Goff's arm as the rookie released his throw.

After several of his stand-out plays, Van Noy was visibly excited on the field and later on the sidelines. It was the culmination of six weeks of work, learning as much as he could from a coaching staff that was eager to teach him. 

"He’s extremely prideful in his work and his approach to the game," Patricia said. "He’s very cerebral. He’ll ask a lot of questions. He really wants to understand what we’re doing and why, which is great. We’re trying to give him those answers and insight into kind of where some of this either came from or developed or situations like that so that’s really good."