NEW YORK -- The numbers say there isn't much difference in the NFL with replacement officials. Comments from players and coaches say otherwise.
As fan outrage grows over calls and non-calls, delays in doling out penalties and indecision by the replacements, statistics show strong similarities between the number of flags thrown this year by the temporary crews and last year by the guys who currently are locked out.
The NFL knows things are far from perfect -- something that could have been predicted with officials whose recent experience typically was not even at the highest college levels. But things are never perfect with the regulars, either, and the league shows no sign of being forced back to the negotiating table because of the criticism.
"We are going to continue to do everything possible to raise the level of performance of the current officials" through training tapes, conference calls and meetings, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Wednesday.
The league does that with the regular officials, too.
One point of emphasis this week will be game control and making sure players are penalized for unnecessary actions ranging from roughness penalties to unsportsmanlike conduct.
Game control and simple professionalism by the officials have become key issues this week after complaints from a number of players.
"There's no doubt the integrity of the game has been compromised not having the regular officials
Added Rams coach Jeff Fisher: "We just all hope, and I'm speaking on behalf of all 31 other head coaches, we hope they get something done. We're trusting that they will."
The Eagles' LeSean McCoy was stunned when one of the replacements told the All-Pro running back he was on the official's fantasy football team. The league prohibits its game officials from playing fantasy football.
"I'll be honest," McCoy said, "they are like fans."