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Dean Blandino: NFL 'not going to change how we're calling the game'

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

The NFL says refs won't call the regular season any different than the preseason.
The NFL says refs won't call the regular season any different than the preseason. (USATSI)

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It's pretty swell that football is back and all, even if it's the preseason. Not so swell: the barrage of penalty flags we've seen in the first two-and-change weeks, most of them on the defense for things like illegal contact and defensive holding.

Bad news: the NFL's head of officiating, Dean Blandino, told Peter King of theMMQB.com the league is "not going to change" things up once the real action starts.

We're not going to change how we're calling the games once the regular season starts,'' Blandino said.

Ugh. Blandino also said he "knew" the league would see a spike in calls when they changed the rules up and added "these points of emphasis."

"The way the game's being officiated now is the way it's going to be officiated when the season begins," Blandino said. "We have to remain consistent. I knew we'd see a spike in calls when we put out these points of emphasis. But coaches adjust, and players adjust. They have to, and they know it. And we'll correct our officials when we feel they're being over-zealous with certain calls."

The craziest part? Blandino claims teams are calling him up demanding MORE penalties.

"Plus, I would say that between 70 and 75 percent of the calls I've gotten from teams after their games this preseason are asking the question, Why weren't there more calls? I had a call today from a team with seven questions, and six were, Why wasn't a foul called on this play?"

According to King's count, the emphasis on defensive holding resulted in an increase of nearly nine extra penalties per game called. (The average 2013 regular season game featured 12.2 penalties versus 17.7 per game in preseason Week 1 and 20.2 in preseason Week 2.)

Blandino believes the spike will see a correction once "players adjust" -- and even went so far as to refer to the number of flags as "exorbitant."

“I believe that once you see the players adjust, you won't see this exorbitant number of calls,” Blandino said. “Downfield contact was underofficiated last year.”

This seems fine in theory, but it's not always the players -- Seahawks DB Tharold Simon had an interception he returned 105 yards for a touchdown called back because of defensive holding past five yards. And, um, yeah ... even Dontrelle Inman's mom wouldn't demand a flag there.

It's all well and good to plug a rule into effect for an upcoming season that will make offenses more potent. Who doesn't love offense?

But if the rule ends up slowing down games because of excessive penalties, the NFL will get plenty of blowback against the rule, regardless of who the league is trying to say needs to adjust.

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