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For the coming season, the NFL has asked officials to focus on illegal contact

Illegal contact is when a defender is not allowed to touch the quarterback while he still has the ball and is

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell
Katelyn MulcahyAFP

A league spokesman said Monday that the NFL asked its on-field officials to pay extra attention to illegal contact fouls during the 2022 season. After a big drop during the 2021 season, the request could lead to a rise in these flags.

Following a significant decrease in the number of unlawful contact fouls, the focus has shifted. In the years between 2002 and 2020, there was an annual average of 97 penalties for illegal contact, but in the most recent season, there were only 36 fouls called.

Only two times in the last 20 years has the league emphasized making unlawful contact fouls a point of emphasis. In both of those cases, the number of calls significantly increased; hence, the first few weeks of the regular season should indicate whether the same thing will occur this time around.

What is an illegal contact?

In order to properly apply the penalty for improper contact, officials need to first identify the illegal contact and then verify the position of the ball and the quarterback. In order to do a better job of enforcing the foul, the committee advised the officials to move more rapidly from the contact to the quarterback.

League insiders were split on whether the phrasing of this year’s illegal contact regulations will lead to a flag surge. In 2014, unauthorized contact flags grew from 52 to 148. In 2004 the competition saw a rise to 191 from 2003′s 79.

Roughing the passer fouls will be a major topic of discussion in 2022. In light of recent seasons in which officials have thrown flags for slight contact, the competition committee has made it clear that contact to the head and below the knee must be forced