Penalties down in NFL last two weeks as players adjust to new rules

BY foxsports • November 16, 2014

When the season got underway in September, everyone wondered who would blink first: the players or the officials. Were the officials going to start slacking off and not calling the point-of-emphasis calls? Or were the players going to adjust and not commit the fouls?

The numbers indicate that finally after 10 weeks, it looks like the players are getting on board.

If you look at the total number of fouls called the last five weeks, the trend is starting to reverse.

Total number of fouls called the last five weeks:

Week 10: 190

Week 9: 189

Week 8: 249

Week 7: 237

Week 6: 246

Look at the declining number of fouls called in Weeks 9 and 10. The 189 total fouls called in Week 9 is the least amount of penalties called this season. In Week 10, there was a little uptick to 190, but that's still on par with the number of penalties called per week in 2013.

Yes, I know there were six teams on byes the last two weeks, but look at the average number of penalties called per game.

Average number of penalties called the last five weeks:

Week 10:14.62

Week 9: 14.54

Week 8: 16.60

Week 7: 15.80

Week 6: 16.40

If you've been watching a lot of NFL games this season, another foul that is being called a lot less is for hits on defenseless receivers. Players have lowered their target area as they have adjusted to the emphasis of the rules.

You are also seeing fewer fines being levied against players for those types of malicious high hits. I do think it's the players who finally got the message. And it makes for a better football game.

Now two weeks does not make a season, so it will be interesting to watch this weekend to see if this reduction lasts for three straight weeks. I think the trend will continue. When you look at the total number of the penalties called by crew, those crews that were calling the most penalties, their numbers are also going down.

Let's take a closer look at the point-of-emphasis fouls this season. In three of the four, there have also been signs that have fouls trending down the last two weeks.

Point of emphasis calls the last five weeks:

Defensive holding: 

Week 10: 15

Week 9: 15

Week 8: 21

Week 7: 22

Week 6: 23

Illegal Contact: 

Week 10: 3

Week 9: 6

Week 8: 17

Week 7: 7

Week 6: 4

Illegal Use of Hands:

Week 10: 5

Week 9: 17

Week 8: 22

Week 7: 13

Week 6: 17

Offensive Pass Interference:

Week 10: 8

Week 9: 4

Week 8: 6

Week 7: 8

Week 6: 8

So most of the trends point south, which I think is the direction that most fans, most players, most coaches and the league would like to see.

And that's music to my ears.