NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron and the league’s referees discussed the spike in offensive holding calls during a Saturday conference call and that discussion was followed by a steep drop in the number of calls.
Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com notes that there were 41 offensive holding calls in 14 games on Sunday. That average of 2.9 per game is down from 5.7 per game over the first 33 games of the year.
The number of holding calls went up after an offseason point of emphasis to call holding on offensive linemen performing “lobster blocks” on the backside of running plays. Riveron said on the call that linemen must still refrain from blocking outside a defender’s frame, but said officials should give linemen more time to get inside the frame before throwing flags.
We’ve seen other points of emphasis lead to a flurry of early flags before the league revisits the topic or teams make adjustments to their style of play. It appears the former is the case this time around.