Expect to see plenty of penalties relating to the new rule against lowering the helmet to initiate contact. At least in the preseason.
Whether those penalties will be a major factor when the regular season begins remains to be seen, but referee Brad Allen said the league’s officials will be flagging anything that’s even borderline in the preseason.
“Up until now, we haven’t seen these plays,” Allen said, via NESN. “The players haven’t experienced this rule. We’re going to have to get a library, and frankly, in preseason, we may throw and then go back and say, ‘No, this is really not what we want. . . . In the preseason, we want to err on the side of putting the flag on the ground and then evaluating if it’s correct. We want to be right by the time we get to the season. So, will it be subjective to some degree? I think it will. We have to remember that safety is a priority, but there are a number of fouls that are subjective.”
When the regular season begins, however, there will be more pressure on officials not to go overboard throwing flags. It won’t be surprising if the flags decline dramatically once the games start to count — both because players have learned what to do to avoid getting flagged, and because officials decide not to be quite so flag-happy.