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.


Gage, Julio Give Buccaneers One of NFL’s Best Receiver Groups

I can’t imagine too many receiver groups will be as good as the Buccaneers if they’re healthy. 

If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can get Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage and Julio Jones all healthy and rolling at the same time, Tom Brady is going to have four excellent weapons this season. Brady made headlines Thursday, announcing he was stepping away from the Buccaneers for an extended time. However, two of his top new targets will be ready to make a difference when he returns.

Russell Gage

Tampa has had to go slot receiver by committee during the last few seasons, but the Bucs are getting a proven slot receiver this season in Gage. Gage can play outside when needed. He’ll catch the ball in traffic, and he’s tough over the middle.  He has extreme body quickness, a great release and a tricky euro move off the line of scrimmage that is unique to him. Brady and Byron Leftwich will love working with  Gage this year.  

Julio Jones

When he was with Atlanta, Jones was the number one—the first option. He’s always been the number one in his career. But that’s not the role the Bucs need him to play right now. I think part of the reason Jones doesn’t have a ton of red zone touchdowns in his career is that he was the first option, so he was normally double-teamed. That should not be the case in Tampa.

Jones is a football junkie and a very smart player. He can do it all. Jones is a route runner; he has speed, and he can block. He can do everything they need him to do. So, I think that maybe to start the season, Tampa Bay will use him in the Godwin role. Jones would be the ‘Z’ receiver instead of the ‘X’ opposite Evans. That receiver in the Bucs offense has to be a blocker. Jones is not only that but also a play-action guy and a target in the red zone.

The only issue with Jones throughout the last few years is his ability to maintain health. But when he is healthy, he’s as good as anybody out there.

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