NFL Referee Assignments Week 1: Refs assigned for each game this week

What are the assignments for the NFL refs in Week 1 of the 2021 season, and what is the responsibility of each of the officials on the field?

The NFL announced ref assignments for Week 1 of the regular season for all 16 games. Which refs will be officiating your favorite team, and who will we see during primetime games?

NFL referee assignments for Week 1

Ahead of Week 1, the NFL announced the ref assignments for the 16 NFL games. The named official on each game is the ref, with each of them having a team assigned to them from the full officiating roster ahead of the year. Here is the list of NFL refs and their assignments for each of the 16 games this week.

Thursday, Sept. 9

  • Cowboys @ Buccaneers | 8:20 PM ET | Shawn Hochuli

Sunday, Sept. 12

  • Eagles @ Falcons | 1 PM ET | Scott Novak
  • Steelers @ Bills | 1 PM ET | John Hussey
  • Jaguars @ Texans | 1 PM ET | Land Clark
  • Seahawks @ Colts | 1 PM ET | Tony Corrente
  • Chargers @ Washington | 1 PM ET | Alex Kemp
  • 49ers @ Lions | 1 PM ET | Brad Rogers
  • Cardinals @ Titans | 1 PM ET | Jerome Boger
  • Browns @ Chiefs | 4:25 PM ET | Bill Vinovich
  • Dolphins @ Patriots | 4:25 PM ET | Clete Blakeman
  • Broncos @ Giants | 4:25 PM ET | Ron Torbert
  • Packers @ Saints | 4:25 PM ET | Carl Cheffers
  • Bears @ Rams | 8:20 PM ET | Brad Allen

Monday, Sept. 13

  • Ravens @ Raiders | 8:15 PM ET | Shawn Smith

What do the initials on the refs’ jerseys stand for?

  • R | Referee: The ref has the final say on all rulings in an NFL game, meaning he carries the designation of crew chief. The ref is the only official to wear a white cap, with the others wearing black. The referee positions himself behind the offensive line, just slightly to the right of the quarterback. His responsibilities on a given play include counting the offensive players on the field, judging roughing the passer calls, and fumbles on passing plays. On running plays, the referee is responsible for the quarterback until it is clear he has handed the ball off. At that point, his focus switches to the back and the contact behind him.
  • U | Umpire: The umpire is positioned adjacent to the referee in the offensive backfield, following a rule change in 2010 that moved him from behind the linebackers on the defensive side of the ball. His primary responsibility is looking at the offensive linemen’s blocks and the defenders trying to beat those blocks. On passing plays, the umpire is responsible for adjudging if a lineman is downfield or a QB has crossed the line of scrimmage (LOS) before passing the ball. He is also involved in judging incompletions and observing the legality of all the players’ equipment.
  • DJ | Down Judge: The down judge (previously called the head linesman) stands on the edge of the field at one end of the LOS with the chain crew. Their role before the snap is looking for encroachment, offsides, or other pre-snap penalties. During a play, they focus on receivers on their side of the field between the LOS and 5 to 7 yards downfield. They also have responsibilities for spotting the ball and overseeing the chain crew. They are the official responsible for accuracy when measuring for a first down.
  • SJ | Side Judge: The side judge is downfield behind the secondary on the same side as the down judge. They assess elements such as pass interference, illegal downfield blocks, and counting defensive players. During field goals, the side judge acts as a second umpire but is positioned on the defensive side of the ball.
  • LJ | Line Judge: The line judge stands on the opposite side of the field to the down judge, adjacent to the LOS, looking for pre-snap fouls. After the snap, their focus switches to receivers close to their sideline within 5 to 7 yards of the LOS. The line judge is responsible for checking whether passing or kicking plays are behind the line of scrimmage. They also judge forward versus lateral passes.
  • FJ | Field Judge: The field judge’s placement is downfield behind the defensive secondary on the same sideline as the line judge. Their responsibility during plays is similar to that of the side judge. On field goals, the field judge judges whether the attempt was successful.
  • BJ | Back Judge: The back judge is placed deep behind the secondary in the middle of the field. Their responsibilities are similar to that of the side judge and field judge during a play. He is also responsible for calling a “delay of game” penalty.

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