NFL wants officials to emphasize illegal contact fouls this season

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The NFL often instructs on-field officials to focus on particular points of emphasis ahead of the season and this year’s focus is going to be on illegal contact fouls by defensive players.

A league spokesperson told Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com that they have asked officials to pay closer attention to those fouls. Defensive players are prohibited from contacting receivers more than five yards off the line of scrimmage while the quarterback has the ball and is in the pocket.

The change in focus comes after a sharp drop in illegal contact fouls. There were an average of 97 penalties for illegal contact between 2002 and 2020, but there were only 36 fouls called last season.

The league has made illegal contact fouls a point of emphasis two other times in the last 20 years. Both of those instances saw a sharp rise in the calls, so the early weeks of the regular season should send a hint about if the same thing will happen this time around.

56 responses to “NFL wants officials to emphasize illegal contact fouls this season

  1. Yeah, because scoring is down. There were zero punts in the AFC Championship game last year at a time when defeneses are supposed to shine.

  2. I don’t like this penalty. It should not be an automatic first down. The line between incidental contact and illegal contact is too arbitrary. The only good thing would be if this is paired with a decrease in horrible DPI calls.

  3. More laundry from the refs. Awesome. Exactly what every fan was looking forward to. Let’s make the games unwatchable and offenses more predictable.

    Last year was the first time in a decade where I thought the majority of the outcomes weren’t determined by the refs.

  4. Just what we need more penalties. Maybe the offense can score more points and football will be the new basketball

  5. Translation?

    Goodell needs to be able to cheat with more grey area rules for Tampa in the SB before halftime.

  6. In other words,

    “Get ready to see your team get jacked over”

    Shouldn’t fans drive this sort of thing? Let’s see, “Because the calls were down, we need to call more.” Did anyone try to find out why the calls were down? Maybe players know how to defend better.

    AND are offensive PI going to go up too?

  7. The best kind of football is the kind where guys can’t touch each other and offenses march down the field to the tune of a yellow flag. I’m excited!

  8. Weak. The deck is already stacked in favor of the offense, so they want to stack it some more?

  9. when its 3rd and twenty. and OFF gets the automatic 5 yrd and first down is not a good thing.. Less is more when it comes to the Zebra..

  10. Why? The defense is already playing with one hand behind their back. The continued emphasis on giving the offense everything is beyond frustrating.

  11. The NFL is woried about DB’s illegally touching WRs, but isnt worried about Deshaun Watson illegally touching 24+ women…

  12. 3rd down and 37 yards to go for 1st down and offense on their own 11 yard line late 4th quarter and offense needs to get into FG range
    Minimal contact on crossing route and there ya go.. automatic 1st down.
    Officials are getting too much control of outcome of games

  13. The contact will be called early in the season and then it will be the same ole same ole by midseason.

  14. If it’s balanced with some additional scrutiny of offensive pass interference, I’d be for it. But I think penalties are way WAY too common overall. It’s just too much over all. I’d love to see the statistics for number of plays with flags now vs 10/20/30 years ago. I’d like to know if it’s just my perception or if it’s real.

  15. Let them play
    If they are not impeding the WR running or catching let it go
    When covering someone there is going to be contact

  16. That’s an easy one for refs because it happens on every play, so they can call it when they need one.

  17. So, I assume the NFL will also start emphasizing the regular occurrence of Wide Receivers pushing off to create separation to make catches? Happens Every NFL game with no flags being thrown.

  18. Aaron Rodgers must have been complaining he didn’t get enough calls to extend his drives last year.

  19. How about we just start on getting the easy calls correct first, which your best officiating crew couldn’t do when Donald was lined up two feet offsides on 4th down in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl.

    Then we can move up to officiating 202.

  20. Enforcing the rules you dopes. How about lightening up on ridiculous touching the passer calls.

  21. how about stop letting Offensive Lineman hold on every play so that the Defense only has to cover for 2 seconds. Plus if you want to cut down on violent downfield collisions do not let the OL hold and give the QB 4+ seconds to throw

  22. This is going to make the game unwatchable..you can call this or offensive holding on every single play. We don’t want the Arena League. There is a reason it folds every few seasons.

  23. Few fans realize the actual speed of the game. Was the receiver 4, 5, or 6 yards when contact was made? Why not return to the old rule, where backs could make contact at the line of scrimmage?
    While some would say it hurts scoring, it also is a risk for the db who might miss and spring a receiver wide open for an easy score. This way it takes the guesswork out of making a proper call of five yards.
    We don’t watch the games to witness the work of the officials!

  24. Get rid of the damn rule altogether. It is ridiculous. Go back to 1970s pass defensive rules, it would make the game a LOT safer as there would be more man to man coverage and less zones, it is the zone defenses that cause the WRs to get lit up over the middle.

  25. They did this once because the Patriots were doing it so much, it was practically cheating!

  26. One thing about going to a game with all the time outs, stoppage of play, you will need to bring work clothes and go straight to your job.

  27. Expect 6 hr games and take the over. I’m guessing arena league like 63-62 final scores.

  28. I watch the condensed version after the game is over, so it won’t impact me. I would hate to watch a game live.

    Too many technical ticky tack fouls on incidental contact.

  29. Terrible idea. Last year in the playoffs they went from not calling fouls in the first 3 quarters to changing that up in the 4th, especially in the last weekend and the SB. Not a good look….

  30. To add: Driving this is Fantasy and the invasion of the “casual fan”. I think it’s safe to say that football “purists” enjoy a game that’s 14-10 and can appreciate the defensive side of the game. The NFL knows that high scores attract casual fans/pink hats. Shame on the NFL to put such a emphasis on becoming arena league.

  31. Goodell needs to be able to cheat with more grey area rules for Tampa in the SB before halftime.

    Irony is not dead . A Pats fan complaint about cheating….hilarious!

    Way too much contact and if the refs don’t clamp down the NFL will be ignoring the rules like the NBA. The players need to adjust not the refs….sure there will be laundry thrown at first but if the penalties hurt the frequent offenders it will stop. Next they should enforce the Patriots pick plays….good idea…eh?

  32. The refs need to crack down on the OPI. WRs are pushing off way too much, and getting away w/ it. Tee Higgins just about shoved Ramsey into the locker room, on his TD catch in the SB.

  33. As long as they drop OPI flags at the same rate I will be fine with it.

    Plenty of HOF wr could not do squat without a push off. The amounts of hand play by Wrs is getting comical. That needs to be what they look out for.

  34. I am sure a few of the poor calls in the SB contributed. 97 is six a game each week (not even counting byes). 36 is about 2+ week. You could probably review film and find 2+ on each play.

  35. Any Hoculi officiated game will be a laundry fest. I think that crew was a year ahead of the NFL wanted illegal contact called more. This is not good…

  36. This is good slow the game down even more you should change the name to the National Flag Football League NFFL

  37. “when its 3rd and twenty. and OFF gets the automatic 5 yrd and first down is not a good thing” “It should not be an automatic first down” If a team has good coaching then it coaches its DBS to not shove around the receiver past five yards on third and forever, you’re guarding the sticks anyways, just play safe, don’t give the offense a gift for no reason, let the offense check it down and make the tackle and it won’t be a problem. You don’t have a reason to be bumping the WR until he’s near the sticks and the throws coming, which would be DPI anyways. The rule isn’t the problem. If a DB is dumb enough to commit illegal contact on third and 20 knowing the penalty then they deserve the penalty. And if the penalty weren’t an automatic first down, then on third and forever DBS could just shove around the receivers for free every play until they get one where the officials didn’t call it.

  38. This is such a mess. Notifying refs to emphasize anything just leads to excessive flags and the ruination of the fan experience. Meanwhile, failure to enforce rules leads to unfair play and illegitimate results and eternal fan outcry. All the time we have coaches and players developing techniques to push boundaries and get away with as much as they can. Maybe there needs to be some player penalty point system -applied after games! – wherein players get fined increasing amounts (not hundreds up to thousands of dollars, but thousands up to tens of thousands per incident) as they accumulate penalty points. And the money does NOT go into anything that funds ownership. It goes 100% to a charity. Perhaps, say, victims of sexual assault? This way it gets more and more onerous over the years for individuals to continue to use cheat techniques, even if that’s what their coaches try to emphasize.

  39. “97 is six a game each week (not even counting byes). 36 is about 2+ week.”

    I get what you mean, but you worded it in an accidentally misleading way, it’s not six a game each week, it’s six per week throughout all 16 games. when there were 16 games per team in one season, that’s 97 calls in 256 games makes for 0.37 illegal contact penalties per game on average from 2002 to 2020. With last season’s 17 games, that makes 272 games, and with 37 illegal contact penalties, that’s 0.136 illegal contact penalties per game. Thirteen teams had 0 illegal contact penalties all of last season. This is more of a non issue than people think (or at least I hope so, the NFL has really caused problems with its “points of emphasis” lately)

  40. Sometimes I think NFL owners won’t be happy until they turn the NFL in the NBA. I guess easier to fix game then with phantom “illegal contact” calls.

  41. Qs long as they also call in on WRs making contact after 5 yards. Pushing off when making a catch happens throughout every game. WRs get away with murder.

  42. Every rule change or emphasis seems to be for the worse these days. No we don’t need more emphasis on ensuring WRs can push off almost every play but a CB can’t do anything. Makes the game so much less exciting if every play is a penalty.

  43. libertyandunion1994 says:
    August 8, 2022 at 11:20 am
    To add: Driving this is Fantasy and the invasion of the “casual fan”. I think it’s safe to say that football “purists” enjoy a game that’s 14-10 and can appreciate the defensive side of the game. The NFL knows that high scores attract casual fans/pink hats. Shame on the NFL to put such a emphasis on becoming arena league.

    ——————–

    I think objectively the league is trying to create a game that expands viewership. They would love casual fans to become permanent fans (regardless of the color hat they wear).
    That’s a good thing. It’s just bad if the resulting game quality is something that loses the existing dedicated fan base also. Making the game accessible to new fans by increasing the scoring isn’t the best way.

  44. they need to penalize the offensive pass interference in the middle of the field.

  45. NFL wants officials to emphasize illegal contact fouls this season. What a joke.
    Emphasizing a particular rule promotes calling fouls that don’t exist.
    Everyone knows the NFL should have full-time officials. God knows they can afford it!

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