NFL sees sharp decline in hits on defenseless players


Not everyone likes the NFL’s emphasis on cracking down on hits on defenseless players. But like it or not, NFL players are changing the way they play to avoid getting fined and flagged.

That’s the word from NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino, who said in a video distributed Friday that penalties for hits on defenseless players have been significantly reduced.

“Fouls for hits on defenseless players are down this year. At this point through 10 weeks in 2013 we had 35 fouls called, and in 2014 we’re at 16. So they’re substantially down. Players are adjusting, coaches are adjusting, and that’s a positive thing,” Blandino said.

Player safety rules, from banning hits on defenseless players to banning horse-collar tackles to banning hits on quarterbacks’ knees, are usually met with opposition when they’re first implemented. And then they usually come into widespread acceptance within a couple seasons. This season, players are showing that they’ve learned how to avoid hits that were once routine.

49 responses to “NFL sees sharp decline in hits on defenseless players

  1. The number of hits is actually lower than 16 if you take away the bogus calls.. I’ve seen 6 penalties for hitting a defenseless receiver that were actually legitimate tackles.

  2. That’s because NFL defensive backs are so scared of being flagged for illegal content and personal fouls that they have to just allow their receiver to catch the ball and then gently escort them to the turf.

  3. As more time passes and as more and more players adapt and become accepting of these changes, the proportion of fans that were initially resistant to doing the same will decrease. As the NFL has shown that they can make this much progress just in one year, that suggests that even more progress is possible and hopefully it will also serve as encouragement to make progress in other aspects of the sport that could use some refinement.

  4. Those numbers are impressive but how do they compare vs the number of diagnosed concussions? Is it me or are there more lower leg injuries now?

  5. The nfl should worry more about the integrity of the officiating. Just like the phantom pass interference call against buffalo on Thursday night football

  6. I don’t know why they don’t just play flag football. This is from the NFL that marketed a video on the NFL’s greatest hits. And every one of those hits would be a fine today.

  7. You know what else would reduce that number? If you stopped calling it. Because this is football and you shouldnt have to shake the mans hand and formally introduce yourself after a catch in order to be able to hit him.

  8. Officiating in the NFL is a joke. Officials, and not players are deciding game outcomes. That’s Goodell’s legacy – the laywer has on field arbiters deciding the games.

    Goodell needs to go. Here’s hoping botching the Ray Rice suspension(s) takes him down.

  9. Maybe players should have impact sensors that measure force. Instead of tackling them, you just need to hit them hard enough for their helmet to light up.

  10. sonofad says:
    Nov 14, 2014 8:56 PM

    Nobody likes injuries.


    No, but it’s a contact sport and injuries happen. Except, goodell is making sure it is no longer a contact sport. A game of racketball has more contact than an NFL game these days. On the brighter side – I don’t sit around watching football all day on Sundays anymore.

  11. thestrategyexpert says:
    As more time passes and as more and more players adapt and become accepting of these changes, the proportion of fans that were initially resistant to doing the same will decrease. As the NFL has shown that they can make this much progress just in one year, that suggests that even more progress is possible and hopefully it will also serve as encouragement to make progress in other aspects of the sport that could use some refinement.
    The problem with “progress” is nobody asked for it. Not the fans, the teams or the players. Nobody who is an actual football fan thinks the game is better for all this “progress.” Goodell and that sleazebag Blandino should be canned and all of their new girly man rules reversed. THAT would be progress.

  12. Of course there are less “illegal” hits, the defenders just let the receivers catch the ball and walk into the endzone. I never thought that the NFL’s goal 25 years ago was to emulate Arena Football and have 61-58 defenseless games.

  13. That’s because the game we are currently watching is nothing more than flag football or powder puff, take your pick.

  14. There is an underlying assumption by the NFL that the players, referees, and league rules committee members actually understand the new rules and how they are implemented. This is clearly not the case. How can one determine if something has gone down, when no one can really know when, and if, that something has actually happened.

  15. Of course you see a sharp decline in defenseless receiver when the refs & NFL have been so inconsistent on what is a defenseless receiver or not that DBs have had to adapt and NOT HIT so they don’t hurt their teams with potential fouls and more over their wallets.

    That’s like the police saying there’s been a decline in crime after people stop calling them in fear of also being shot.

  16. I wonder if all the illegal contact penalties cause more injuries. Why? There is more passing, which means the games last a lot longer, providing more plays for potential injury. The offenses are too dominant over defenses anymore.

  17. I love how people whine now about the changes in the game as though it’s ruining the game. Like football just used to be such a defensive game. Go look at some of the scores at any point in the history of the NFL. 1985 for instance (27 teams scored over 40 points that year. There were games like 62-28, 54-44, 44-41, 49-35) How about 1973? I’m just randomly picking years here.. (19 teams scored over 40 points that year; 62-7, 48-20, 44-27) How about 1966? (20 teams scored over 40 including games like 72-41, 49-40, and 57-33). I’m just setting the floor at 40. Even 1950 had 21 teams over 40 points with scores like 70-27, 65-24, 56-20, 44-31)

  18. R.I.P. “Jacked-up!” best segment ever!

    Goodell I actually have legitimate hate for you!

    To all the future John Lynch’s, Steve Attwater’s, Sean Taylor’s you will have to go to the CFL or start playing rugby as the scumbag lawyer commissioner want rid of you. But you know who doesn’t want rid of your kind? THE FANS WHO FILL THE SEATS AND PAY EXTORTIONATE PRICES!!!!

    The one guarantee is that as long as the NFL are making money they don’t care if they are selling you a chevy cavalier (the current crap version of the NFL) for the price of a Ferrari (good ol fashioned football).

  19. NFL posts same article but funny nobody can comment on it. They know the fans are not happy about the changes and they rub it in our faces suggesting that they are succeeding in improving the game…narcissistic scumbags. Beginning of the end as my clear favorite sport and the #1 sport in ‘murica.
    Actually the beginning of the end came with the cancer that is Roger Goodell.

    Moving along to rugby my second love.

  20. @bbmf

    Exactly. This reduction in penalties is meaningless without corresponding stats showing both # of 10+ yard completions between the numbers, and completion % on these same type of passes.

    I have a strong feeling both the number of completions over the middle has increased, as has completion percentage on the same throws.

    If that is case, the NFL’s stat wouldn’t show that players have adjusted their tackling, but rather that defenders have stop trying to defend such passes. I don’t think that should be touted as a positive.

  21. The “old” NFL, governed by Rozelle and Tagliabue, led to thousands of former players successfully suing the NFL because of cognitive impairments of their brain function.

    The league will now pay out tens of millions of dollars for not doing more to try and prevent concussions. That is the legacy of Rozelle and Tagliabue which Goodell inherited. Something had to be done.

    Don’t like the rule changes? At least acknowledge why they’re being made. Your heroes are blaming the NFL for allowing the game to be played pursuant to the rules administered by Rozelle and Tagliabue. And it’s pretty clear the judicial system agreed with those players.

    The lawsuits forced the hand of Goodell and the league. That is the reason the current rules are being implemented. Not a man’s agenda to ruin the game or his incompetency as so many are convinced is the case with Goodell.

    When small minds don’t get their way, they need to rant and blame someone. They can’t accept the fact that change is inevitable–the only real constant in life. So be it. At least blame the true culprits: those who ran the league you now feel is being “ruined.” Goodell, while certainly making mistakes, is stewarding the movement to to alter the game so that it no longer turns a blind eye to the very real problem of football and brain injuries.

    If he were not to do so, the judicial system–in the form of future litigation–and the legislature–in the form of congressional oversight and/or sanctions–would have made the changes for the league. The NFL was going to be altered, far better for it to be done by the league itself than by judges and congress.

  22. There should be an asterik beside all offensive records. Those before all these silly rules against the defense were implemented, and those after. It means nothing to me when I see records of Montana, Marino, Bradshaw, Moon etc. fall as the generations are playing a totally different game. Brady, Manning, Luck may also be great quarterbacks, but they are playing a different game.

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