NFL makes mistake, does Chicago Bears and Cassius Marsh wrong

Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images
Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images /

After Chicago Bears linebacker Cassius Marsh received a controversial taunting penalty, the NFL protected the officials and issued a fine, making the mistake even bigger.

The Chicago Bears are reeling. They are in the middle of a four-game losing streak. Their record now stands at 3-6. Additionally, they don’t have a friendly schedule down the stretch of the season.

After a bye week, the Bears’ second half of the season begins this week. They host the Jekyll and Hyde Baltimore Ravens. They look unbeatable some weeks but in others, they look like one of the worst teams in the league.

The Ravens come off of an embarrassing loss to the now 3-7 Miami Dolphins. Miami won their first game, but then rattled off seven straight losses. Their streak was only broken because they faced a worse Houston Texans team in Week 9. Many felt that the Ravens would blow the Dolphins out on Thursday night in Week 10. Instead, the Miami defense completely shut down the Ravens and pulled off the upset.

Now the Bears have to face a Ravens team that is still upset over that loss. They could have had a share of the top spot in the AFC but now have to fight just to get to the second spot.

The Bears, meanwhile, are looking for anything to go their way. When a team is reeling like the Bears are, things just snowball. There are new ways of losing games.

In Week 9’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, there were a number of calls that the officials made (or didn’t make) that affected the outcome.

One of the most egregious calls came late in the game when the Bears thought they stopped the Steelers on third down with a sack. Linebacker Cassius Marsh recorded a sack and celebrated it. He did a karate kick then stood and stared at the Steelers bench.

While he stared, the officials didn’t make any call. Then, as Marsh moved to go back to his sideline, the official hip-checked Marsh then threw up the flag. The Steelers continues their drive and kicked a field goal to take a six-point lead.

It wasn’t just the Chicago Bears and Marsh who were flabbergasted over the call. It made national news. Since the game was on Monday Night Football, it had a huge audience watching. In addition to the call, many wanted something to be done with the official who hip-checked Marsh.

The day after the game, the NFL announced that they supported the officials’ call. Over this past weekend, they doubled down on that and fined Marsh over $5,000 for the taunting.

The league is all about protecting the officials. In order for an official to receive a sanction, he/she has to do something very egregious. We all know now that what happened last Monday wasn’t egregious enough.

The league has had a perception problem. Many people feel that there is an officiating problem. There are way too many bad calls for their comfort. Some go so far as to say there is a conspiracy by the league to fix games.

I don’t subscribe to those ideas but what happened Monday was bad. It was so bad that by not doing anything, the league actually gives conspiracy theorists ammunition to go after it.

Did the league double down on Chicago Bears/Cassius Marsh to cover something worse?

As bad as the taunting call was, there was another one that was even worse. With 9:19 left in the third quarter, the Bears thought they had a touchdown. Fields threw the ball into the corner to tight end Jimmy Graham. However, a low block penalty nullified the touchdown and backed the Bears up 15 yards. The Bears eventually had to settle for a field goal. In a game decided by two points, that was a huge call.

Here’s the thing, though. The call went against James Daniels. The problem with it was that Daniels fell down and didn’t even block anyone, let alone make an illegal low one. Also, the rule states you cannot make a low block outside of the tight end box. That supposed block was inside the tight end box so it was legal.

I think the league is happy that people were more concerned with the taunting call than the low block call. When you look at the Daniels call, you can clearly see that a) Daniels didn’t even touch the defender and b) even if he did, he was still inside the tight end box so it was actually legal. The league can explain away the taunting call. Taunting is such a subjective call. I mean, Marsh got called for that one but T.J. Watt wasn’t called for taunting when he blew kisses at the Chicago sideline. See, subjective (in my sarcastic voice)!

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The two calls cost the Bears seven points in a game they lost by two. As I mentioned earlier, when things start going bad they can go really bad really quickly. Things go from bad to worse for Chicago and with their schedule, things will certainly get worse for them. The league shouldn’t pile on them, however.