If the preseason was any indication, illegal contact penalties are going way up this year.
NFL officials called 22 illegal contact penalties during the preseason, up from just seven during last year’s preseason, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post.
The NFL made illegal contact a point of emphasis for the officials during offseason training, and the officials listened, calling a whopping 15 illegal contact penalties during preseason Week One. The league officiating office may have told the refs to tamp down the illegal contact calls after that, as calls declined in the second and third weeks of the preseason.
Often, points of emphasis at the start of the regular season disappear as the season wears on and players, coaches, fans and the media complain that a penalty is getting called too often. But at least at the start of the season, an increased number of illegal contact penalties is something defensive backs should be ready for.