Officials have called 51 helmet rule penalties in 33 preseason games

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NFL officials are calling the new penalty for lowering the helmet about one and a half times per game.

The league office told PFT that through 33 preseason games, officials have called 51 fouls for the new rule. That works out to 1.5 penalties per game.

The vast majority of the penalties, 43 in all, have been called on the defense. Only eight have been called on the offense.

When the league implemented the new rule, there was some talk that it would be called only in the most flagrant of cases. But in the preseason, that hasn’t been the case: It’s called frequently, at least once in most games, and sometimes more than once in a game.

What remains to be seen is whether the officials will continue to call the rule so strictly when the regular season starts. There’s some sentiment that when the games count for real, the officials will swallow their whistles and keep their flags in their pockets. The NFL, however, insists that this new rule is necessary, and will continue to be enforced until players change the way they hit.

35 responses to “Officials have called 51 helmet rule penalties in 33 preseason games

  1. Is there no former NFL player in the world who is capable of running the league? There has to be at least one guy. Goodell has no business running a sport he never played (yeah he was good in HS but never played after that).

  2. I am not a Goddell apologist but the rule changes get implemented by the coaches with ownership pushing behind the scenes. See this for it is an attempt to make a violent game less traumatic which is easier said then done.

  3. Less than two per game? That’s not bad actually. I don’t like the new rule because there were already rules in place for spearing. I don’t know why new rules have to be made when old rules cover what the new rules are supposed to cover…

  4. Isn’t it odd that athletes who are paid millions suddenly whine about “can’t hit” without using the helmet when in every level of football below this this very action is ILLEGAL?

    Grow a set – ban all helmet to helmet contact – or force these jerks to play without helmets.

  5. Viewership is down, games already have too many penalties and some are almost impossible to watch. This might be the nail in the coffen or is a way the league can manipulate who goes to the superbowl by a bogus penalty.

  6. In fairness, I’d rather they over-officiate it now in the preseason when it can be analyzed and tweaked before the games count. All signs point to this being a disaster so far though.

  7. Hmm, who would ever believe that you were making it way more dramatic than it ever needed to be? You’ve written more articles on this topic than there have been penalties called on it.

    Why aren’t people up in arms about defensive pass interference calls? Have a much more significant impact on the game.

  8. arwiv says:
    August 21, 2018 at 10:24 am

    Is there no former NFL player in the world who is capable of running the league? There has to be at least one guy. Goodell has no business running a sport he never played (yeah he was good in HS but never played after that).
    ————————-
    How many pro sports commissioners have been pro athletes in that same sport? None in recent memory that I can think of. Why single out Goodell on that basis? Surely there are tons of other reasons he could be unqualified for the job other than that.

  9. nhpats says:
    August 21, 2018 at 10:21 am
    For the love of God…. make it stop…..
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Just going by history of the last 17 years of the NFL I would think patriot fans would want more penalties. More penalties = more flags. More flags = more wins for patriots.

  10. As usual fans are over-reacting. Once the NFL refines their officiating I would expect to see an average of one per game. How many holding calls are there per game..5? Small price for significant improvement in player safety.

  11. patriotmaleorgy says:
    August 21, 2018 at 11:36 am
    nhpats says:
    August 21, 2018 at 10:21 am
    For the love of God…. make it stop…..
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Just going by history of the last 17 years of the NFL I would think patriot fans would want more penalties. More penalties = more flags. More flags = more wins for patriots.

    Yeah, my favorite from last season was when a RB ran head first into teh knees of a NE safety, fell on his face and NE got flagged for defensive holding. Cost field position and b/c it was late in a close game probably cost a win.

    Why does it make people feel better to believe NE gets more flags even though the stats prove them wrong?

  12. Games are going to take 4 hours between the replays, increased penalty calls and ads. Really liking the product less and less.

  13. Everyone take a deep breath. Less than two penalties a game is not ruining the sport of football. It is being called enough to make players seriously consider how they are going to tackle someone but not enough to kill the momentum of a game. I haven’t seen all of the penalties, but out of the ones that have been shown as examples of “bad” or “confusing” implementation, there has only been one that seemed like it was an egregiously bad call (the one where Kyle Fuller was called when the WR clearly put his head down), and that should have been called on the offense. Players will adjust. You will adjust. It’s not worth getting angry about something that is supposed to be entertainment.

  14. One and a half per game seems low. With all the complaining from players and fans and talking heads, I would have expected much higher, especially since: 1. It’s a new rule players are getting used to and the fouls commited will go down as they get better at avoiding them; 2. Refs have said they are calling it more than they would in the regular season. For comparison, there were 2.54 holding calls per game last year (which anyone who has watched a game knows is far fewer than committed) and 1.98 false starts per game. The next most penalties is 1.04 pass interference calls and 0.93 defensive holding.

    I would also be interested in finding out how many of the penalties were called against 1st and 2nd string guys and how many were called against players unlikely to make a squad. As in, are better players more or less likely to be called? Are veterans less likely to be called?

  15. “Isn’t it odd that athletes who are paid millions suddenly whine about “can’t hit” without using the helmet when in every level of football below this this very action is ILLEGAL?”

    You simply don’t understand the geometry of tackling. You cannot attempt to tackle a player who is already lower than you such as a RB or receiver leaning forwards, without dropping your head yourself.

    Most times this results in incidental contact of the helmets, not a player hitting or spearing with his helmet. This is not hard to understand or make sense of. Actual helmet to helmet hits have been banned for years, spearing has been banned even longer.

    This rule is a travesty and will be called randomly and without consistency from the refs. Its a terribly written rule that will take away dramatically from the game. If you don’t like the violent nature of football, I suggest you watch golf, tennis or something that fits your sensibilities.

  16. Its going to decide so many important games. Puts the game in the officials hands just like the NBA. Is it a coincidence its being added just as legal gambling is too??

  17. Why doesn’t the league place some sort of impact-evident substance on the crown of the helmet, thereby making it obvious when the crown is used for a tackle when you see a distinct mark on the opposing player

  18. That rate will come out to 512 calls in the regular season. The new fines will add 3 to 4 million to go with the $25,233,626 taken in last year. In the last 5 years the NFL collected $118,880,813. Where does that money go?

  19. Subjective officiating has ruined football.

    Pass Interference : No consistency and subjective.

    Roughing The Passer : No consistency and subjective.

    Catch Rule: No consistency and subjective.

    Tuck Rule: No consistency and subjective.

    Helmet Rule : Won’t be consistent and will be subjective.

    Throw in high ticket prices, expensive food and parking, tons of commercials, high percentage of player arrests and suspensions, what’s there to like about football anymore? Not much, better off reading about it than watching it.

  20. harrisonhits2 says:
    August 21, 2018 at 12:08 pm
    “Isn’t it odd that athletes who are paid millions suddenly whine about “can’t hit” without using the helmet when in every level of football below this this very action is ILLEGAL?”

    You simply don’t understand the geometry of tackling. You cannot attempt to tackle a player who is already lower than you such as a RB or receiver leaning forwards, without dropping your head yourself.

    Most times this results in incidental contact of the helmets, not a player hitting or spearing with his helmet. This is not hard to understand or make sense of. Actual helmet to helmet hits have been banned for years, spearing has been banned even longer.

    This rule is a travesty and will be called randomly and without consistency from the refs. Its a terribly written rule that will take away dramatically from the game. If you don’t like the violent nature of football, I suggest you watch golf, tennis or something that fits your sensibilities.

    ____________

    Can I honestly ask when you learned this? You are describing the old way of tackling, or how tackling used to be taught. Most players do not perform the shoulder tackle anymore, where they drop their head down. These players have been taught since childhood (unless they had terrible coaches all the way up) to sink their hips and keep their head up and eyes on the ballcarrier.

    If the ball carrier is leaning all the way down, the solution is not to drop your head and create a helmet-to-helmet tackle. The solution is to take out their legs.

  21. If you think that’s frequent then you haven’t been paying much attention to false starts, holding, and offsides.

  22. The NFL thing is concerned about silent protestors but not concerned about viewers watching a watered down , 20 penalty , 4 hour game??
    NFL is so out of touch. Protests had no effect on revenues, onerous rules that makes games tough to watch certainly will!

  23. What was the rules committee thinking as well as Godel. You just got rid of the catch rule and you bring one in that will be worse. Teams will lose, players fined all in the eyes of the officials that no one considers doing good job as it is. You throw in what five new crews and you think this year will be different.

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