With the NFL's instruction to put more emphasis on illegal contact by the defense and the fact that the preseason is filled with rookies, camp bodies and practice squad players, the 2014 preseason has been a flag fest.
In the Colts' loss to the Giants, there were 26 penalties called, 13 on each team. Last season, the Colts were the least-penalized team in the game with 4.1, while the Giants were ninth with 5.7 penalties per game, according to NFLpenalties.com. The difference in the preseason has been staggering, disrupting the flow of the game and wiping out too many plays.
And while illegal contact is a legitimate penalty that should be enforced correctly, it's seemed to have gone too far. There have been far too many penalties called on minor incidental contact for my liking, both on penalties on the Colts defense and penalties that helped Indianapolis' offense.
The problem has been widespread throughout the league. According to SB Nation's Kevin Nogle, this year's preseason has averaged nearly six more penalties per game in the first 22 games. If this continues into the regular season, the NFL could have a problem on its hands.
But, it's important to remember that preseason is always more flag-filled, partly by design and partly because of the inexperience of many of the players. Former referee Jim Daopoulos had some insightful words published on Comcast Sportsnet this morning:
We're in the preseason right now and they have over twenty developmental officials and they're just trying to learn the game right now. They are basically telling them, 'get out there and throw [flags] and we'll tell you what's good.' It's a learning process right now. I know it's kind of tough for everyone to watch, we hate watching all these flags. It's just nature of what goes on in the preseason in the NFL.