Illegal contact quadruples, defensive holding doubles from 2013

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The NFL was serious when it said officials would throw more flags for illegal contact and pass interference this season.

Statistics released by the league on Friday reveal that through the first five weeks of the season, there have been nearly four times as many illegal contact penalties as there were through the first five weeks of 2013. And there have been more than twice as many defensive holding penalties. Illegal contact has increased from 15 calls in Weeks 1-5 last year to 59 calls this year. Defensive holding has increased from 52 in Weeks 1-5 last year to 115 this year.

Overall there have been a total of 163 more penalties called this year than at the same point last year. In addition to the increase in illegal contact and defensive holding, NFL officials have thrown 14 more offensive pass interference flags, 48 more illegal use of hands flags and seven more flags for taunting or unsportsmanlike conduct.

Many fans think the officials have gone too far and that games are getting slowed down by constant calls from the officials, but the league says that in reality, games are moving along more quickly this year: The average time of a game has gone down from 3:09:44 last year to 3:05:41 this year.

77 responses to “Illegal contact quadruples, defensive holding doubles from 2013

  1. Not surprising that game speeds have increased.

    1 – Penalties stop the clock about the same as an incomplete pass. It makes the game SEEM slower by interrupting the flow and changing drives.

    2 – With the penalties, I’d imagine that there are fewer possessions per game also. Since commercial breaks are at change of possessions, there are fewer breaks. (don’t worry, they’ll still manage to show all the commercials they wanted to, and still eek out a short ).

  2. When is the NFL going to post who is reffing which game by Wednesday? Both Vegas and fantasy leagues really need this info. It’s more important than the injury report

  3. Yep, the field has been drastically tilted toward the offense, which directly inflates the passing stats, which creates unwarranted heroes of merely pedestrian QBs.

    Just like 1000 yard rusher became everyday after the increase to 16 game schedule, a 4,000 yard passing year, will become expected. The new mark will be 6,000 yards. Just look at all the QBs on pace for 5,000 yard seasons.

    A less sophisticated fandom demands bells and whistles and the NFL promises a circus every weekend in every stadium. The NFL Experience means diluting the product for casual public consumption. The fact that the length of games has decreased, is only fuel to the fire for this to continue.

    The NFL wouldn’t care if games were longer. That would mean more advertisement revenue. Power dictates and Heidi can wait. The NFL rules.

  4. In any “ball toward a goal” sort of game, you have to regularly change the rules to favor the offense. If you didn’t, it would get harder and harder to score, because athletes are always getting bigger, faster, stronger, more agile, etc and it becomes increasingly difficult to get the ball past them. And it could be games are getting faster because defenders are becoming more cognizant of avoiding holding and contact, leading to more complete passes.

  5. I was watching a couple of games from the 80s and there is no doubt that brand of ball was more entertaining. No questionable roughing the QB penalties, hits on defenseless receivers, long replays or made up pass inference. If you can get these guys off of the growth hormone maybe we can go back to having a league that allows hitting?

  6. I’m glad they are cracking down on these defensive violations, but they still haven’t achieved the most important requirement of all — consistency.

  7. But how can refs explain the hold Lions DB, Slay, put on Watkins.

    they picked up the flag.

    penalties aren’t infuriating when the right call is made.

    stop the game cold. Make the right call.

  8. The NFL is supposedly for the fans, right? It’s obvious that this is not what the fans want based on the comments. The NFL thinks that these changes are making the game more popular; but, in reality it’s the gambling and fantasy aspect of football that is responsible for the immense growth of the game.

  9. I don’t really care if the games are longer or not. What bothers me is the inconsistency of the calls. With the way the refs are now calling the game with “mickey mouse” flags, I’m pretty well expecting a flag on every play. Not that the NFL cares, but I’ve been watching this sport for 40 years and my enjoyment level of the game is at an all time low.

  10. And these flag filled crap fests are really what the NFL wants to showcase as their product ?

    Really ?

    I used to watch every game usually to the end that I could. Now I watch the Pats since I follow them and maybe 25% of the other games I used to watch.

    The NFL is losing me fast. I know they don’t care that they are but when I turn into millions of people looking for and finding other ways to entertain themselves the league is going to see its revenues drop like a rock.

  11. Refs have headsets this season yet still huddle after every call? Fix that and quit messing with the game. Anyone who watched PIT-JAX knows what I’m talking about. Those guys were a disorganized mess.

  12. Remember when everyone thought the rule changes were gonna hurt the Seahawks secondary? Were you one of those clowns?

    Here’s a couple stats for you: Zero Illegal Contact penalties, 1 Defensive Pass interference.

    Oh and thats against guys like Aaron Rogers, Peyton Manning, and Phillip Rivers.

    Keep on hatin’ and Go Hawks!

  13. The league should eliminate all physical contact on the field. Or just eliminate defenses and let offenses play pitch and catch for the cameras.

  14. garyridgway says:
    Oct 11, 2014 9:28 AM
    Remember when everyone thought the rule changes were gonna hurt the Seahawks secondary? Were you one of those clowns?

    Here’s a couple stats for you: Zero Illegal Contact penalties, 1 Defensive Pass interference.

    Oh and thats against guys like Aaron Rogers, Peyton Manning, and Phillip Rivers.

    Keep on hatin’ and Go Hawks!

    1 0
    ________________________________

    I think we’re all ok with them just continually calling it on the Hawkfense.

  15. stillers213 says:
    Oct 11, 2014 9:14 AM
    The NFL is supposedly for the fans, right? It’s obvious that this is not what the fans want based on the comments. The NFL thinks that these changes are making the game more popular; but, in reality it’s the gambling and fantasy aspect of football that is responsible for the immense growth of the game.
    ———

    I was about to post the same thing. The fans are the people buying the product. Does anybody know ANYONE who supports the increased illegal contact and PI calls? I can’t understand why the NFL would continue to frustrate and upset the people who buy its product. I got to the point a few weeks ago where I said “I don’t care if my team doesn’t get another call—please just stop with the stupid penalties! All of them!”

    There are two possibilities: Either the NFL is run by people who simply don’t care at all what the customers think, or they have market research that makes them believe more offense will lead to more attendance and revenue. It’s probably both.

  16. Remember when everyone thought the rule changes were gonna hurt the Seahawks secondary? Were you one of those clowns?

    Here’s a couple stats for you: Zero Illegal Contact penalties, 1 Defensive Pass interference.

    Oh and thats against guys like Aaron Rogers, Peyton Manning, and Phillip Rivers.

    Keep on hatin’ and Go Hawks!
    ===========================================================

    Seattle’s defense is nowhere near as scary as last year, you couldn’t even get a turnover on Cousins, who was a turnover machine vs the Giants.

  17. The games may be slightly shorter but they are becoming vastly more frustrating to watch. Hopefully the NFL does something about this sooner than later. Less fans = Less $$ coming in. Simple economics.

  18. I noticed it right away, especially the ticky-tack calls. It’s made the games un-watchable in alot of cases. If you watch college football, the flow of the games is much better. Now watching the nfl games is not as enjoyable to me and I’m a football fan. When the nfl loses guys like me to college, their ratings have got to be down.

  19. The NFL has put the outcomes of games in the hands of the refs and the games have become barely watchable. I used to watch tons of games, now I only watch Bills games… and even those are rough with all the game changing calked penalties and mysterious no calls.

  20. The fans don’t care how long the games. That is a concern for those with a commercial interest. We simply don’t want the officials to decide the games.

    Remember when the philosophy was if you don’t hear much from the refs, they did their jobs?

  21. I’m sick of the league telling me what fans should like.

    I don’t like Thursday games. I don’t like 18 game schedules. I don’t want more playoff teams. And sorry but the officiating is ruining the game.

    I’d love to see a statistic on how many first downs are caused by officiating vs play on the field. The game is called football, not “officiating”. Can we let them play football?

  22. in all honest if there was no fantasy football and i didnt have money on the line with co workers weekly i wouldnt watch any games besides giants games.. they are almost getting to be that unwatchable

    i literally look for flags on every play

  23. The fact that game length has shortened is mainly from the streamlining of replay (which has been a good thing in terms of helping the flow of the game).

    However, I say bag replay. Even with replay there is still controversy. There are some replays where three experts give three different opinions. Controversy stems from human nature and perceptions – replay can’t reform human nature it just creates a new level of controversy.

    I also say go back to the 79s/80s rules of how DBs could defend receivers, up the HGH and other PED testing. These two things will greatly reduce concussions.

    Finally, stop building new stadiums and raising ticket prices. You are making it easier and easier to stay home.

    As an aside, college football is becoming more fun to watch than the NFL.

  24. The amount of penalties is not the issue. Its the lack of consistency. When replay CLEARLY shows a bad call. A coach should be able to challenge EVERYTHING.

  25. Defense is all but dead in the NFL. The Seahawks win the Super Bowl with a powerhouse D and the Rules Nazis react by clamping down on aggressive Defense. Petty and/or imaginary penalties are making the game unwatchable. Nothing will change because the NFL is still making a ton of money, but that won’t go on forever. Over saturation and mismanagement will eventually kill the game and it’s a damn shame.
    Roger Goodell is by far the worst commissioner in the history of the NFL!!!

  26. Illegal contact is the worst rule in all of sports. Nothing more irritating than a team getting a 1st down on a 3rd and 14 because the defense barely grazes a receiver. I hate it. It’s pathetic. It’s hard enough to play defense but they give the offense so many cheap first downs. Hey refs, did you ever think that the reason the pass was incomplete was just simply because the GUY WASN’T OPEN??? Quit throwing so many flags!

  27. I love how people complain that the rules favor the offense, but brag about their team putting up 38 points after the game. If you really hate the rules “favoring the offense” then you should complain when your team scores a TD, right? Anybody? Bueller?

  28. The argument for replay, as currently implemented, is “how can we leave a call on the field that millions of viewers can clearly see is wrong?”

    That should apply to penalties as well. Call them from the booth. Let the guys on the field communicate the call, mark the ball, and break up fights. Save the nostalgic human element crap for baseball.

  29. Games may not be longer, but the overall quality of the product on the field is without a doubt lesser.

  30. The new rule emphasis wouldn’t be as bad if the refs were actually getting the calls CORRECT.

    I’ve seen more poorly officiated games this season than I have in my entire life previously combined.

    It’s not against my team, or one team, or anything like that so this isn’t a whine-rant – all teams and all games are a joke for the most part this year.

    I think the emphasis is drawing attention away from every other penalty. Which only makes the misses more noticeable when something awful is called.

    So yeah the emphasis is annoying, but it’s not the problem. The officiating as a whole stinks. The replacement refs did a better job.

  31. With this number of penalies we are almost to the point where it is more statistically advantageous to just throw it downfield than to punt.

  32. i think they need to reconsider some of these rules. it seems like its impossible to play without some kind of penalty. pretty much EVERY play has some kind of foul, its just a matter of whether or not the ref sees it.

    violence interrupted by committee meetings….

  33. Whats the breakdown of offense vs. defensive penalties? they were supposedly going to stop WR’s from pushing off yet I see them getting away with it every week.
    in the meantime the CB is drawing an illegal contact penalty for looking at the wr wrong as he ran past him.

    it really is getting stupid. lets just eliminate CB’s altogether. maybe roger would finally be happy

  34. Put the blame where it squarely belongs…golden boy of denver who was annihilated and mortified last year in the sb. Look up some of the rule changes, and “points of emphasis” over the last few years, and see for yourself. I watch my team’s games, and that’s it, can’t stand the constant stopping of the action and the commercials.

  35. The primary offensive tactic in 3rd and long situations is now to find the single coverage and throw it deep hoping for the call. The new “emphasis” has made it increasingly difficult for defenses to get off the field.

    Annoying.

  36. Has anyone else noticed that “makeup” calls have started to happen in the NFL? It’s fairly common in the NBA when a ref makes a bad call that they will make a phantom call on the other end to makeup for their mistake rather than reverse the call. Last week in the Pats/Bengals game a terrible PI call was followed with a phantom offensive holding call that pushed the offense back to the original line of scrimmage.

  37. I’m one fan who thinks it’s about time they did this. They need to keep applying the rule consistently. If people don’t like it, the rule needs to change or the players need to adapt. If the rule is on the books, hold everyone to it, every down.

  38. The league is missing the forest for the trees.

    The length of the game is irrelevant, it’s what we are viewing that is upsetting fans. We don’t want to see ticky-tack fouls called, we don’t want to look up every 30 seconds to see the referees conferring. We don’t want to see dramatic scoring plays taken away because of an irrelevant bump downfield on the opposite side of the field from the play.

    The league is beginning to measure success by the achievement of internal goals rather than consumer approval. It’s a common malaise in corporate America. I laugh when people say that consumers will never turn away from the NFL no matter what they do. That’s what people said 40 years ago about General Motors.

    We’ll see.

  39. Unfortunately nothing will change unless attendance and ratings take a substantial drop, and as irritated as we all are none of us are likely to stop watching anytime soon.

  40. So basically, the half-dozen teams that lucked into drafting an ELITE QB’s will have a distinct advantage over the 24 other teams.

    Good job, Rog. Way to make the game unbearable for 75% of its fans.

  41. Why does this comment keep getting deleted by the mods?

    The officials need to be competent and consistent while only calling things they actually see (as opposed to throwing a flag on something unseen that”must have been a foul” based on the aftermath.

    The players need to play within the rules. When allowed to commit infractions without penalty two things will happen: 1) The players will keep trying to push the limits and 2) fans will perceive favoritism or “game-rigging”

    If a player violates the rules, throw a flag. It should not matter who the player is, what teams are involved or when the play happens during the game. STOP the “emphasis” crap. It implies that some rules might not be called as a matter of policy and forces officials to look for and see things that are not necessarily there.

    Simplify the rules and clearly identify the intent instead of constantly amending the rules because of poor interpretations of badly worded standards.

    I long for the days when fans knew exactly what a catch, fumble, TD and good defense looked like.

  42. If I wanted to watch flag football, I’d just drive down to the local YMCA and watch the 8 year olds.

  43. Many of the penalties come a few seconds after the play is over means the refs on the field aren’t the one’s calling the penalties-people watching offsite in New York are. Its the reason why the ref gets the name of the player wrong so often–the off-site watchers sometimes can’t see the players number correctly and just guess.

  44. 2 – With the penalties, I’d imagine that there are fewer possessions per game also. Since commercial breaks are at change of possessions, there are fewer breaks. (don’t worry, they’ll still manage to show all the commercials they wanted to, and still eek out a short ).

    ——–

    Depends on the station. Fox & NBC LOVE commercials, CBS in my experience not so much.

  45. The time of the game would go down when they run off three – six seconds after every play that requires stoppage of it.

  46. Defensive backs have no rights anymore…Ive only really paid close attention to Bills games so i can not speak on other teams behalf but Id assume its the same crap: There are roughly 20 penalties per game, mostly due to this garbage.

    And maybe it is just me, but I have seen too many flags picked up…. Either there was a penalty or there wasn’t…

  47. I used to watch all the live football could possibly watch but with all of this wussification, no defense, over penalized, garbage with all of the damn commercials, I just watch my team live and catch everything else I want to see on an app afterward. Much less aggravating! The NFL is really going down hill.

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