Connect with us

2023 Divisional Playoffs

4 officiating observations from the 2023 divisional playoffs

4 things I noticed out of the officials during the 2023 divisional playoffs.



Only three more games to go. I can’t believe how fast the season has flown by. As we prepare for Conference Championship Weekend, here are four things I noticed this weekend from the officials.

Jimmy Buchanan (Lions)

1. Cool heads prevail

Each team is struggling to get to the next level, some franchises are trying to get to that next level after generations of futility. That is a recipe for high emotions. Teams are working for every advantage, including trying for an advantage with the officials. Frustrations and tensions boil over. This is a time for officials to maintain total emotional control. The crazier the moment gets the cooler the official has to be. All four officiating crews did an outstanding job in maintaining total emotional control.

2. Several close calls

This weekend featured high quality teams with high quality athletes making high quality plays. Plays that would be an incomplete in the regular season featured athletes balling out on every down this weekend. That makes for very close calls. Most of those calls this weekend were bang on correct. I’ve said it for years – great plays make for great calls.

3. Alternates continue to be integral during the game

A generation ago, alternates paced the sidelines, watching the game and waiting to (rarely) go in. Not today.

After just about every administrative stoppage and on every flag down and review, at least one alternate stood next to the head coach to keep him informed about what was going on and passed along any information he needed. These alternates add a valuable asset during the high-intensity of the playoffs.

4. Several Super Bowl worthy officials on the field this weekend

As I watched the games this weekend I thought, “Each of these officials are capable of calling the Super Bowl.” That is a good problem for the NFL to have. The NFL can’t assign all 28-officials from this weekend to the Super Bowl, and not all are eligible. But every crew this weekend was Super Bowl-worthy.

We now wait for the next big assignments. Savor these last three weeks!

Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Post a comment using, Twitter, Facebook, or Google account:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.