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.
When Dominique Easley was released by the Patriots this spring, it wasn't because he wasn't productive when he was on the field. In fact, on a per-snap basis, he was one of the most productive interior pass-rushers in the league last season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Instead, there were some off-the-field factors, as well as injury concerns, that led to the Patriots choosing to cut ties with their 2014 first-round pick.
As our Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran put it, there were "philosophical differences" between Easley and the team.
Other, more scathing reports of Easley's impact in New England were released, including one report from the Boston Globe that included a quote from a former teammate saying he was a "locker room cancer."
Since then, Easley has landed with the Rams and has a chance to contribute to one of the most talented defensive lines in football. In an interview on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Phil Savage and Amber Theoharis, Easley said he hopes that his new team will get to see that he's a better person than some have indicated.
"Just really," Easley said, "just hopefully that the Rams get to see what a great person and a great hardworker I am, and really, just a great person."
Easley went on to say that he's not sure who would speak of him negatively or why. He explained that it's not his "main goal" to prove there's nothing to worry about with his character, but clearly it's somewhere on the list.
"There's been, obviously, stuff said about me," Easley said. "We don't know where it came from. I would say the person doesn't want to come out and say it, neither. As far as I know, it's all rumors until that person comes out and say that it was from them, and they can prove that they actually know who I am, or been around me long enough to know who I am and how I am as a person."
Peyton Manning is retired, but that doesn't mean he's exempt from the interviews that the NFL plans to conduct as it looks into the allegations made by Al Jazeera's December PED documentary.
It was reported last week by USA Today that the league's senior vice president of labor policy and league affairs Adolpho Birch informed the NFLPA that players named in Al Jazeera's report would be interviewed in July.
Among those scheduled to be interviewed are Packers linebackers Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews and Steelers linebacker James Harrison. Former Packers linebacker Mike Neal will also be interviewed.
(Harrison has taken issue with the league's request, and said on social media that he would only meet with the league if commissioner Roger Goodell showed up to his home.)
Manning was not mentioned in the letter obtained by USA Today detailing the league's interview plans, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk followed up on Monday to see if the NFL intended to speak with Manning. It does.
The former Broncos and Colts quarterback has been very vocal about just how strongly he denies Al Jazeera's claim that his wife, Ashley, received HGH for his use. Despite the fact that he's no longer playing, it will come as no surprise if, given his stance, Manning cooperates fully with the league as it seeks more information regarding the report.
As Florio points out, if Manning hopes to return to the NFL at some point as an executive -- as many believe he will -- this is something he'll want to put to bed beforehand. That process will start with an interview.