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.