Penalties not a factor in first game

| 3 years ago

Penalties not a factor in first game

PFF-headlinesFOOTBALL IS BACK! As I’m sure you’re aware by now the first game of the NFL regular season has been played. The defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks got off to a winning start at home by handling the Green Bay Packers 36-16 on opening night.

That’s not what I’m referring to with that rather boisterous opening however. In last night’s game there was a grand total of three coverage penalties: One defensive holding, one illegal contact, both called on Green Bay linebacker Brad Jones, and a defensive pass interference flag thrown on Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner.

The preseason saw the number of penalties fly through the roof as the NFL made coverage calls a point of re-emphasis. The 2013 preseason saw 56 illegal contact or defensive holding penalties in total over the 65 games while 2014 saw that number rise to 271.  That is a rate of over 4 per game and doesn’t even factor in defensive pass interference, which also spiked through the roof.

The preseason at times became a farce with players being penalized for getting run into by receivers or simply laying a hand anywhere near them as they ran their routes. It was like watching some kind of padded up flag football game and caused serious concerns for the type of football we were going to be watching in the regular season.

The Seattle defense is as physical as any in the league when it comes to playing coverage and making contact with receivers when running routes and for them to emerge with just a single flag from that game in terms of these emphasized penalties is a great sign for the coming season, especially as that flag came on a linebacker, typically a little more clumsy in coverage than defensive backs.

The 2014 preseason was the officials making a point, but last night’s game may have made a far bigger statement; football is back, and you can still cover guys!

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN and NBCSports.

  • willyeye

    I don’t know if it’s a good idea to use a Seahawks’ game as a barometer for predicting future pass defense flags. I’m not sure how many of these infractions the Packers were flagged for in the preseason, but the Seahawks were only flagged for 4 pass defense violations in 4 preseason games; that’s a measly 4 out of 271, and one of them, coming on a 105-yard pick six, was questioned by Pete Carroll to the NFL… the NFL came back and said it was a bad call. So realistically, the Seahawks should have only been penalized for 3 infractions in the entire preseason. So the Seahawks being flagged twice in this first regular season game doesn’t really equate to fewer flags for the Seahawks thus far; it means they were flagged more.