As the first full week of the NFL’s preseason slate concludes, there is one disturbing trend — a new emphasis on the illegal contact-defensive holding rule has once again changed the landscape in the National Football League.
The illegal-contact rule was instituted about a decade ago when the Indianapolis Colts, led by quarterback Peyton Manning, argued they couldn’t effectively run their offense because the opposing teams’ defensive backs illegally held and shoved the Colts’ receivers all over the field.
The NFL agreed with their assessment and the illegal-contact rule was created, which stated that a defensive back could not engage a receiver with their hands, except when they were within five yards from the line of scrimmage. Within those five yards, defensive backs were allowed to get physical with the opposition.
The defending Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks took advantage of the rules and used their physical traits to limit the opposing offense’s rhythm. In the Super Bowl, Seattle beat the Denver Broncos, led by none other than Peyton Manning, 43-8.
Now, another rule change, or better enforcement of the previous rule — whichever way you want to look at it — has been bestowed upon the NFL clubs, and in particularly anyone that might have any thoughts of winning games with a physical defense and not a high flying offense.
The only constant so far in this limited preseason has been the laundry list of flags on the field. It’s a shame, because football can be just as much fun with a dominating defense on the field as oppose to an offense that no one can stop. Hopefully the officiating will subside when the regular season begins but I doubt it.
I still disagree with the illegal-contact rule in general. However, for those of you who love watching touchdown passes, get your popcorn ready, because I predict someone will throw 60 touchdowns in the next couple of seasons.
Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.