Mike Pereira, the NFL’s V.P. of officiating, attended Thursday night’s game between the Bengals and Patriots at Gillette Stadium. It was a normal course of action for the soon-to-be-retiring Pereira, who likes to get around to as many camps as possible, in order to visit directly with teams and officiating crews.
Asked what rules changes/emphasises (emphases?) he feels will be impactful in 2009, Pereira’s response was immediate.
According to stats compiled by the league, officials made 587 offensive holding calls in 2008. It was the second-most called penalty, behind false starts (653) and ahead of offside (313).
As a whole, total penalties were at their lowest point (3,392) since 1992 (3,344).
And the drop in holding calls was noticeable. In 2005, officials threw flags for holding 880 times, a difference of nearly 300.
Pereira said that, in breaking down video of all games from 2008, officials failed to penalize 177 holding calls. He said there were also “about 50 missed calls, for more than 220 mistakes in total.”
Pereira added, “From more than 3,200 plays, that’s not that bad, but it’s something we’re working on.”
This preseason, he already has seen more flags thrown for offensive holding. “I’m OK with [the increase] because I think the players will adjust,” Pereira said. “We need to see less grabbing, less hooking, less of guys getting their hands outside. It was getting to the point where a lot of hooks and even take downs were getting through.”
After the game, we mentioned the new emphasis to Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer.
“Really? I don’t like to hear that,” he replied.
[Editor’s note: Palmer likely also felt at that same moment a searing pain in the lightning-shaped scar on his left knee.]