Decline in Hits on Defenseless Players Around the NFL

NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino, everyone’s best friend as of late, released a video documenting a sharp decline on penalties for hits on defenseless players.

This is yet another indication that players are changing the way they play in order to avoid being flagged and the ultimately fined for illegal hits.

In the video, Blandino indicated that we have seen 16 flags for hits on defenseless receivers through 10 weeks. That’s a dramatic decline, says Blandino, from the 35 penalties that were called at this point last season.

The interesting dynamic here is that we haven’t heard a ton of chirping from players in recent weeks. After widespread opposition throughout the league, it seems that players are now accepting the new rules.

I would warn, however, that the league hasn’t focused on potential injuries that have stemmed from players having to think twice about what they do on the field. Once you take the natural instincts of a defensive player away, the prospect of injury goes up. These instincts have been learned from an early age, and are hard to break simply because the NFL changes the rules on the fly.

That’s important to note.

Photo: Sacramento Bee