NFL officials have always been quick to call holding penalties, but that habit might be coming to an end. As a matter of fact, offensive holding penalties reached its lowest Week 1 total over the past two decades.
According to ESPN Stats & Information data, the NFL only called 18 offensive holding penalties in Week 1 of the 2020 season. That’s actually a 78-percent decline from Week 1 in 2019 and 58.6-percent drop from the five-year average.
Officials were told last year to put an emphasis on offensive holding penalties, which is why there were 82 holding penalties during the opening week of the 2019 season.
There is no confirmation regarding whether or not the NFL has decided to scale back its emphasis on holding penalties. If the numbers in Week 2 show yet another decrease though, then the writing might be on the wall.
NFL holding penalties
Week 1, 2019: 82
Week 1, 2020: 18
Pendulum has swung wildly, and it’s probably why you thought games this weekend looked better than you anticipated. As officials basically ignored holding, second-fewest total penalties in 20 years https://t.co/zyd1pqavZQ
— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) September 15, 2020
Even though NFL teams didn’t have a preseason this year, the games didn’t look choppy last Sunday. The lack of penalties may have contributed to that cause.
Week 1 of the season could just be an outlier, so it’s always best to wait a few more weeks to see what the data says.
The second week of the 2020 season will kick off on Thursday night, as the Cleveland Browns will host the Cincinnati Bengals.