If early preseason returns are any indication of what’s to come in the 2014 regular season, don’t expect defensive backs to play too aggressively. The NFL is really putting the screws to defensive pass infractions. Consider this: through two preseasons in 2013 (65), there were 18 flags for “illegal contact” and 38 for defensive holding. Through preseason so far this year (49 games), there have already been 84 “illegal contact” infractions flagged and a staggering 146 flags for defensive holding. That’s 170+ more flags than last year’s preseason games, kids. Hell, there were only 54 illegal contact penalties called during the regular season last year!
If you’re a cornerback or a safety, that means you’d better bump your man quick and know where that five-yard barrier exists. And don’t you dare grab the receiver’s jersey! Don’t even think of “incidental” contact while the receiver is running his route unless you’re an Oscar-winning actor. Early indications are that those yellow hankies will continue to fly, slowing down the game that the league has been attempting to speed up.
If you handcuff a defender further, you dilute the game as it has been played all in the name of scoring, scoring, scoring. Why you ask? Because our instant gratification, short attention span society can’t appreciate a good slobber knocking, defensive battle. It won’t keep the average person’s attention for the entire game. The same is happening in baseball. Everything is about scoring more runs and hitting more dingers. Can you hear Gil Byrd agreeing with this? I think not.
Look, I’m all for scoring points. I’m all for a clean game where defenders have to follow the rules in coverage, but this is just plain insanity. Why not just put mittens on the defender’s hands so they can’t grab any cloth. What’s next?