CFL VP (officiating) and former referee Glen Johnson said player inexperience may be part of why penalties have shot up 30% this year.One of the most notable elements of the 2014 CFL season thus far has been the amount of penalties called. Paul Friesen of The Winnipeg Sun dug into that this week, talking to CFL vice-president of officiating Glen Johnson Wednesday. Johnson confirmed that there's been an average of 24 penalties per game thus far, a 30 per cent rise over the 18.4 called last year, and talked about how that's not the intention of the league office:
The average number of penalties per game has exploded this season, up 30 percent from last year: from 18.4 per game to 24, league vice-president of officiating Glen Johnson confirmed in an interview with the Sun, Wednesday.
"There's more penalties than anyone would like," Johnson said. "We're working really hard to sort that out... it's a shared responsibility between the clubs and our officiating department." ...
The type of calls most on the rise: illegal blocks, including holding, on kick returns, objectionable conduct and unnecessary roughness, including roughing the passer.
Many of the objectionable conduct calls are for taunting an opponent. This year players also get called for pretending to throw a flag when they believe a penalty should have been called.
"The league's asked us to clean that up," Johnson said.
So, part of the rise may be about the league trying to enforce its rules more consistently. Another element may be the amount of rookies in the league this year, which may be higher than normal thanks to the creation of a new team in Ottawa and the siphoning off of some veterans to them through the expansion draft and free agency, plus the numbers of CFL players who left for the NFL this past offseason. Still, the league spent three hours with each team's coach this offseason on what is and isn't a penalty, so part of the issue may be that coaches haven't passed that message on to their players effectively enough. It may also be that there's more money being spent on training and evaluating officials; Friesen writes that "With more immediate evaluation and feedback than they've ever had, and a brighter spotlight on their work, officials seem to be calling games by the book, hard and fast." That seems like a desirable outcome from a consistency standpoint, but coaches and players will have to adapt to the new standard to limit the amount of flags thrown.Read More »from Flag football? CFL penalties are up 30 per cent