If you've watched any preseason games you've no doubt noticed all the penalties, most of the "defensive holding" or "illegal contact" variety. Reinforcing those rules was a point of emphasis heading into the season and officials have been vigilant about throwing flags.
The reason is obvious: Keep defenders from holding beyond five yards and, ultimately, open up offenses. So how bad has it been?
355 penalties through 17 preseason games: 53 for defensive holding, 27 for illegal contact, 15 defensive pass interference flags.— Brian McIntyre (@brian_mcintyre) August 10, 2014
During the entire 2013 preseason, there were 18 penalties for illegal contact, 36 for defensive holding, 72 for defensive pass interference— Brian McIntyre (@brian_mcintyre) August 10, 2014
At least one defensive-minded coach wants to make sure the officials don't go overboard on throwing flags.
"Let guys play,” said Jets coach Rex Ryan, who was the Ravens' defensive coordinator before coming to New York (via PFT). “If it's a penalty, then call it. If it's not, then let them [play]. Guys should be able to compete for the football and things like that down the field. The game is great as it is, but if it's in the rules then you've got to play within the confinements of the rules and I have no problem with that.”
The rule is a direct result of the Seahawks' secondary manhandling opponents with great success last season. Their thinking: Yes, technically, what they were doing qualified as illegal contact but there was no way officials would throw a flag on every play.
That's changed. But it's not the first time we've seen this.
Back in 2004, after the Patriots mauled Colts receivers in the 2003 AFC Championship Game, the league made illegal contact a point of emphasis. The results: Those penalties increased from 79 to 191, according to former VP of officials Mike Pereira.