Offensive holding fouls up nearly 30 percent in Week One

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The NFL specifically wants to eliminate the backside “lobster” block by offensive players. That new focal point undoubtedly contributed to a spike in offensive holding fouls for Week One.

According to the league, the initial 16 games of the 2019 season resulted in 83 offensive holding calls, or 5.18 per game. That’s an increase from 64 in Week One last year, or four per game.

The league didn’t have the specific number of backside holds, but it’s clear that the NFL wants to get that technique out of the game.

“I’m on one of the committees that sends things to the Competition Committee, and there was a big emphasis on the backside of runs,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told reporters on Wednesday. “There are some teams that are just really bad, and they just go out there and they grab the linebacker and do this, or they grab . . . the defensive end and do this. They wanted to get that out of the game, so they made a point of emphasis on it. Actually, [Jaguars executive V.P. of football operations] Tom Coughlin is on that same committee, and he put together the tape on that. It was so long you couldn’t watch it all. It was just really, really bad, and so that’s what they’re trying to get out of the game.”

Zimmer acknowledged that this is one of the rare situations where a rules emphasis actually helps the defense.

“I hope it gets corrected, that’s what I hope,” Zimmer said. “I hope teams stop doing it, but if they don’t, they should throw the flag. It’s cheating.”

The more it gets caught and called, the more teams will shy away from doing it.