How to Coach Players on Rule Changes and Avoiding Penalties

In this video, former NFL referee Dean Blandino leads former NFL coaches Dirk Koetter and Chuck Pagano in a roundtable discussion about coaching players to avoid penalties.

Preparing the Team

Pagano speaks on how important it is to emphasize the NFL’s illegal contact rule to rookies because it’s not something they dealt with in college. He mentions how it starts the second they arrive with the team and how it needs to be carried throughout the preseason. Pagano also mentions how important it is for officials to come to training camp and educate the players. This allowed the coaches to share videos with the players and get the input of the officials right away.

Pagano then mentions at every Friday practice he would prepare his team with information about the officials for their upcoming game. The information would include which penalties they called frequently and which ones they didn’t.

How Illegal Contact Affects the Passing Game

Koetter then touches on the impact this rule can have on offensive players and coaches. He mentions how although the rule favors the offensive side of the ball, most offensive coaches don’t like the rule. Koetter says there is a lot of “gray area” between defensive pass interference, defensive hold and illegal contact. He also touches on how the rule makes the life of officials more difficult.

Next, Blandino mentions the NFL competition committee wants to emphasize illegal contact this season because the league’s overall passing numbers dropped last season. Blandino says there is a correlation between illegal contact and the passing game because the passing game is predicated on timing.

The panel also speaks about the first week of the preseason.  15 illegal contact penalties were called in the preseason’s first week, compared to 36 total illegal contact penalties last season. Blandino says fans shouldn’t expect 15 a week because officials are told to throw more flags in the preseason, and then reign it back if they have to.

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