The biggest complaint of the 2014 NFL preseason is the excess of penalty flags, particularly ones for defensive holding. We have no idea what's in "second place" but whatever it is isn't even close.
NFL VP of Officiating Dean Blandino recently said nothing will change when it comes to how officials approach throwing flags during the regular season. While that's a terrifying prospect, Blandino does believe we'll see less flags tossed
"We expected it. I think there's an adjustment period for our officials, for the coaches and our players," Blandino said Thursday night on NFL Network after the Eagles-Steelers game. "When the regular season rolls around, I think everybody will be on the same page and I think you'll see those foul totals go down."
The difference in penalties called, per NFL.com, is substantial. 23.4 total penalties called per game in the 2014 preseason (versus 14 per game in the 2013 regular season), 10.6 defensive penalties called per game in the 2014 preseason (5.6 per game in 2013) and 3.4 defensive holding penalties per game in the 2014 preseason (0.9 per game in 2013).
Like we've been saying, though, there's a good speeding analogy here. If you set up a speed trap on the highway, for the first few weeks it's going to nail just about everyone who's used to driving through at a higher rate of speed than the one posted.
Once people learn about the speed trap, they'll adjust the way they drive in the area and it will result in less people pulled for speeding. Same deal when you ramp up the way you call a certain penalty.
"That's the level that it's been and I think once everybody gets through this adjustment period I think that's where we'll see the penalties because we certainly don't want to delay the game but we also have to call the violations that are there," Blandino said.
What will end up happening, though, is lots more offense, once defenders play things in a more cautious fashion. Though that may be exactly what the NFL wants.