There’s been a lot of buzz from fans and analysts alike about NFL preseason games being taken over by strict officiating.
And the numbers back up this claim. On average, there have been 23.1 penalties called per game during the preseason thus far, a significant increase from last season’s 14.
But NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino does not expect this trend to continue and believes that number will decrease, according to NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal.
“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’s NFL Total Access Postgame. “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.”
Blandino said he’d like to see the number of penalties decrease to 15-16 per game.
“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.
This is good news. Once the regular season rolls around, we don’t want to see calls like this particular ‘illegal contact’ penalty made. Seahawks CB Tharold Simon picked off a pass in the end zone and took it the entire length of the field for a pick-six, but it was negated by a flag in Friday night’s game against the Chargers. It looked like a clean play, though.
The increased number of penalty calls—especially in the secondary—has really slowed preseason games down. If the officials call it this tight in the regular season, we’d be looking at games lasting almost four hours in duration.
The league has sent the message that it’s going to crack down on contact by defensive backs. But referees are there to officiate—not to take over entire games.