The NFL is trying to become even more of a passing league by putting a bigger emphasis on enforcement of its illegal contact rules, resulting in this preseason becoming a slow, grinding, almost unwatchable flag fest.
Most expect the referees will back down from flagging everything once the actual season starts, but even if the officials keep calling illegal contact at close to the same ridiculous rate, that won’t deter craftier players from trying to get away with the stuff they’re used to getting away with.
Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis says he and his teammates will keep playing it the way they’ve always played it, and let the refs throw the laundry if they will.
“They call what they see. That’s how you have to look at it,” Revis said. “If they see you holding or if there’s illegal contact down the field or pass interference, they’re going to throw the flag. But there’s so many techniques we’re taught to try to avoid that, that’s what we have to rely on — our technique, and go from there.”
“It’s going to be a little bit different. But . . . we’ve got to do the best job we can, stick with what we’ve been taught,” Revis said. “But at the same time, we’re still going to try to play aggressive. That’s just what it is. We’re going to try to play physical and aggressive as much as we can as a defense.”
Revis may be able to rely on technique to help him get through the flag storm, but not everyone is as polished as the Pro Bowler. The challenge for coaches will be getting less technically proficient DBs and linebackers to the point where they are no longer getting flagged for ticky-tack things.
The result is likely to be pretty painful for a lot of defensive coordinators, and pretty entertaining for sadistic people who enjoy watching officials throw flags.