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.