There were 53 defensive holding penalties called during week 1 of the NFL pre-season. In the 2013 regular season, 171 of those penalties were called. The increase of the frequency in which referees are penalizing defensive players is staggering.
Should this current trend carry over into this years season, the Seattle Seahawks defense is in serious trouble.
For a Seahawks team that found their success by roughing up receivers and playing a hard-nosed style of football, the penalty situation is something that definitely needs to be addressed. Playing physically is what Richard Sherman and the rest of Seattle’s corners do better than most in the NFL.
In a league that has already made it virtually impossible for a secondary to have any sort of edge on the offense, this further hinders elite level defenders.
What the Seahawks can stay positive about is that Pete Carroll knows a thing or two about coaching the right way to play physically within the rules set forth by the NFL. Keep in mind that the hard-hitting, intimidating legion of boom didn’t get flagged for a single helmet-to-helmet penalty last season. This is a statistic nobody took the time to recognize.
The same group of guys that bullied their way to a Super Bowl routing of the best offense to ever play the game of football did it all in a clean fashion. However, helmet-to-helmet contact is one thing for the Seahawks. The illegal use of your hands or holding is an entirely different beast.
My bold prediction for the upcoming season is that if the referees continue to flag defenses as often as they have been, the Seahawks will struggle to make it into the playoffs. The league is now faced with the question of whether this new way of officiating is helpful or damaging to the NFL brand.