Last year, the NFL told officials to make offensive holding calls a point of emphasis, resulting in an increase in flags. This year, things have changed.
NFL officials threw only 18 flags for offensive holding in Week One, a 78 percent decline from last year, according to ESPN.
The league isn’t saying whether it specifically told officials that they were calling too many ticky-tack holding penalties last year, but it seems likely that as part of the officials’ offseason training, they were told not to go overboard with the holding flags.
Penalties were down overall from last year in Week One of this year, which was good news from a watchability standpoint: Although there were concerns that a regular season without a preseason would result in sloppy play, the quality of the games was high. The officials may have helped that along by letting the marginal holding calls go.