Belichick asks officials to be flag-happy at practice

Belichick asks officials to be flag-happy at practice
August 12, 2014, 3:00 pm
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FOXBORO – The officials will be on the practice fields at Gillette Stadium this week and Bill Belichick had a request for head referee John Parry.
 
Let ‘em fly.
 
With a league-mandated emphasis being placed on defensive holding and illegal contact, Belichick told Parry he doesn’t want his defenders guessing what they can get away with.
 
Said Parry, “(Belichick’s) request was, ‘Throw flags. Put the flag on the ground so when we put the film on we can see what the action was. When the flag is on the ground, communicate with the player. What did he do wrong? How does he potentially eliminate that action? Communicate with the coaching staff. Make sure that they know.’ ”
 
An official’s dream is to go to a game and be completely unnoticed. That’s our dream as well.
 
Why it hasn’t been changed or potentially changed to a college-type situation where it’s a 15-yard penalty as opposed to a (for instance) 42-yard (spot foul), I don’t know the answer to that.
 
Parry met briefly with the media Tuesday afternoon to answer questions on rules changes and points of emphasis for this season.
 
He’s optimistic that, by the time the season starts, nobody will even remember the rules emphasis in the passing game.
 
“I think last week in the New England (preseason) game there were 23 penalties,” Parry began. “I think you’ll see 23, 24, 20 (penalties) in weeks two, three, four (of preseason) and the message will be sent that this is a point of emphasis and players will adapt, coaches will adapt, officials will adapt and by week one, I don’t think you’ll see much difference in the football game.
 
“There’s two, three, four topics that are always at the top (in terms of being called more tightly,” Parry stated. “By week one of the regular season, I’m sure we will all have forgotten this.”

That’s optimistic. Pass interference is the most subjective penalty in the game. It’s also the most penal – by far. People have been screaming, “Are you s******* me?! That’s not pass interference!!!” for a few decades. Lowering the threshold for officials to call fouls merely means more game-changing calls on 50-50 balls, plays where the offense initiated contact or occasions where the contact was incidental. And that will suck.
 
With the Patriots adding two of the league’s better corners, Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner – both of whom play extremely physically – it could be a good year for TV repairmen.
 
One move I’ve seen Revis use is beating receivers to a spot and putting his hands in the air as they begin a cut. Basically, he’s drawing a basketball charge and that’s legal.
 
“If a defender has an established spot similar to basketball and that receiver initiates contact, then illegal contact would be off,” said Parry. “If a defender moves into the path of the receiver then we have defensive illegal contact.
 
“This is the second time in 14 years that defensive holding/illegal contact has been a point of emphasis,” he pointed out. “It’s an offensive game and we want receivers to be able to run a free route. We do not want receivers to initiate contact with defenders to eliminate their ability to defend that route. It’s not an easy call. There’s not an easy call out there.”
 
I asked Parry after his press conference if he really believed that the NFL is an “offensive game” because about half the league’s coaching staffs would strongly disagree with that.
 
“No. We don’t,” he admitted. “But from a fan perspective, people don’t come to see us throw flags. They come to see high-paced, points-on-the-board, offensive games. There are those of us who love a great defensive struggle. Gimme the 7-6 game that’s gonna be decided in the fourth quarter with two minutes to go. An official’s dream is to be unnoticed.”
 
That’s a dream that will go unrealized in 2014.