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It doesn't make sense to trim rosters before the 4th preseason game

Can you imagine a world where more holding is called?
Can you imagine a world where more holding is called? (Getty Images)

Finally, we are down to the final week of the preseason and I have two issues weighing on me that I would like to address.

What if holding calls were a "point of emphasis"?

One frustrated general manager, who preferred to remain nameless, made an interesting comment to me when he said, "the preseason penalty situation is ridiculous and I wonder what would happen if the league ever made offensive line holding a point of emphasis?"

It's a really good point because the common assumption by most NFL people is that there is holding on every play but we live in a world where we tolerate it. Some believe it's because offensive line holding protects the quarterback in the passing game, others say we can't call it every play or the games would never end.

I decided to take a look at offensive line holding calls and it was revealing and in some ways laughable. Does anyone believe there was only one holding infraction every 51 pass plays in the NFL last year? Of course not, and when you compound the 51 pass plays by just the five offensive linemen and not even factor in the tight ends or running backs involved in pass protection it equates to a reality where 255 offensive linemen pass blocked on those 51 pass plays and only 1 time in 255 pass blocking plays there was a holding call. That is laughable.

Here's a look at the last four years of offensive holding calls and if the NFL ever decided to make it a "point of emphasis" there would be a big change in the frequency of calls. Keep in mind there were 4,782 sacks over the last four years, and of course there were no holding calls on any of those plays. Right.

Offensive holding calls over the past four years
YearPass plays calledHolding callsHolding calls per pass play
201320,7264051:51
201220,1264531:44
201119,7864311:46
201019,5294311:45

In the last four years pass plays have gone up every year and up 1,200 times since the 2010 season but holding is supposedly down, or at least it's not a point of emphasis. It's probably true that illegal contact by defensive players was under officiated last year with only 37 calls in 256 games.

It has been called over 60 times in three weeks of preseason football this year, which should clean up some of the issues, but there are a lot of defensive coaches that wonder when offensive holding will be a point of emphasis. My answer is don't count on it ever happening.

Why cut rosters to 75 at this point?

I have two issues with NFL rosters. The first is why not have a 50-man gameday roster and the second is why have a cut to 75 at this point in the summer?

I was recently told by a member of the league office that there wasn't much interest in increasing the gameday roster. I was puzzled by that since six different owners told me they were interested in an expanded gameday roster.

The concussion protocol alone is a reason to raise the gameday roster in order to protect players that feel they have to go back in games because "there's no one else who can play." The increase of the practice squad from 8 to 10 players is a good thing but it doesn't solve the gameday problems. One owner who favored an increase in the gameday roster also added he would like to make eight offensive linemen a mandatory part of the increase.

In regards to the massive cuts around the league happening, which could easily be over 400 players, it is still a mystery to me why we cut rosters down to 75 players this week with one preseason game left.

Did we see all the injuries in Week 3?

Did we forget teams do not want to play their starters in the final preseason game?

Why not keep all 90 players if a team elects to and give the players deep on the roster one more chance to make the team or at least protect the starters from having to play? Cutting players before the final cut next week should be optional for teams.

One personnel man said to me, "it gives the released players an early chance to catch on with another team." I chuckled and said I was in the league for 10 years and I rarely got a coach to claim a player with three days to go before the fourth preseason game.


Pat Kirwan has been around the league since 1972, serving in a variety of roles. He was a scout for the Cardinals and Buccaneers, a coach for the Jets as well as the team's Director of Player Administration where he negotiated contracts and managed the team's salary cap. He is the author of Take Your Eye Off the Ball: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look, and the host of Sirius NFL Radio's Moving the Chains.
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