What exactly did the NFL fix with these stricter penalties?
The Seahawks and Broncos combined for 113 plays and 574 yards in last night’s game. They also combined for 25 penalties and 226 penalty yards. That means a staggering 28.3% of the yards gained in that game were courtesy of an officials flag. They were not alone. The 49ers and Ravens combined for 15 penalties for 116 yards. The Redskins and Patriots combined for 19 penalties and 160 yards. The NFL needs to be careful to not oversteer what has been a very successful product.
Some of this just happens in pre-season where teams are less sharp than they will be as the regular season rolls around. Some of it, though, was clearly a result of the new emphasis on illegal contact and defensive holding. One might think a Seahawks fan would be complaining loudest because his team was being targeted, but I saw the Broncos, Ravens and 49ers all get some extremely ticky-tack calls. The game is not better for it.
Ironically, these “Seahawks rules,” as some opponents like to call them, may even benefit Seattle more than most teams. A number of the calls against the Broncos came on Wilson scrambles. Covering a receiver in that situation without making contact is almost impossible. Seattle coaches would be wise to teach their receivers to intentionally run into defenders with quick changes of direction with Wilson breaks the pocket. Can you see where this could very quickly turn silly?
Not quite as silly as the NFL Networks new red zone advertisement graphic that actually partially blocks the view of the field during gameplay, but silly nonetheless.
Seriously? Am I going to have click to close ads blocking my view soon?
The hope is that the NFL office will realize games delayed by penalty after penalty will lead to more people changing the channel or getting up from the couch. When they see that it is not just bad for football, but bad for business, they tend to wise up. If they do not, expect to see record-breaking receiving numbers across the league and more depressingly, longer games and less clarity about which team is actually better at playing the sport versus exploiting silly rules.