Preseason football isn't compelling stuff. It doesn't count but it does "matter" on a certain level, especially when it comes to penalties called by officials.
And there is one unsettling trend through two weeks of preseason football ...
NFL officials have been instructed to more strictly enforce illegal contact and defensive holding. Sure enough, the yellow flags have littered the fields at a ridiculous clip.
Through the first week of the 2014 preseason (17 games), we've seen 27 illegal contact flags. In 2013 - over a span of 256 games - only 37 illegal contact penalties were called.
Through two weeks of preseason football (not including Carolina and Kansas City Sunday night), 52 illegal contact penalties have been called.
And about those defensive holds? Refs have called 96 through two weeks, with 62 being enforced. For the record, they called 313 in the 2013 season.
So what does this all mean?
The penalties for IC and DH are different than for Defensive Pass Interference (DPI). Instead of spot fouls, these penalties are just 5 yards, but they come with an automatic first down. Which are critical. Consider that the past 3 years, teams averaged roughly 19 first downs per game, even adding 1 to 2 additional first downs is a 5.3% to 10.5% increase.
Last year we saw 1.2 DH enforced/game, this preseason we are at 2.1. Thats a 75% increase in DH enforced/game.
Last year we saw 0.14 IC enforced/game, this preseason we are at 1.73. That’s a 1136% increase in IC enforced/game.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you're interested in football games manipulated by officials upholding the sanctity of the NFL rulebook, well then you might be in for a real treat in 2014!