It’s becoming clear and obvious that the NFL’s focus on clear and obvious penalties is clearly and obviously aimed at one thing: Increasing scoring and in turn the excitement generated by NFL games in 2020.
Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com takes a closer look at the impact of relaxed officiating on the 48 regular-season games played to date. Holding fouls have plummeted by 59 percent in comparison to 2019.
On the second Sunday of the season, NFL.com published an article with quotes from NFL officiating supervisor Walt Anderson, who explained that the league has instructed officials to avoid ticky-tack fouls, and to flag only clear and obvious instances of rules violations. Setting aside the question of whether teams should have been told this before the season (they weren’t), the cat has now escaped the bag, allowing teams to be coached to do things that won’t be flagged under the new standard.
The new standard undoubtedly is boosting the product. Via Seifert, NFL teams have generated an average of 24.7 offensive points per game through three weeks, 16 percent more over the first three weeks of 2019 — and 22 percent higher than the average generated during the preceding 20 years.