NFL insider pocket book: Fewer flags equal extra factors, James Robinson’s jersey gesture, plus Week 1 picks


Week 1 is upon us and it is by no means appeared higher.

I am again with my weekly insider pocket book this season right here at, and we’ll use this area similar to final 12 months to spotlight development tales, empty out the pocket book from journeys across the league and make picks on all 272 video games this season.

However earlier than the picks (and I acquired 67.8% of them right final season), I am going to start with a few officiating notes to set you up for what’s to return this week and past.

The NFL skilled an offensive explosion final season due to revolutionary offensive schemes and quarterbacks who’re extra correct than ever. However officiating — and extra particularly, lax officiating on offensive penalties — additionally had one thing to do with it.

I am informed the league’s de-emphasis on offensive holding penalties will proceed into the 2021 season. Offensive holding flags went from 724 in 2019 to 462 in 2020. Put one other method, groups averaged 2.74 offensive holding flags in video games between 2015-2019 however simply 1.8 flags in 2020.

This offseason, the NFL competitors committee checked out 100 potential offensive holding penalties that went uncalled in 2020. Ninety of these no-calls stood upon overview, whereas the league would have appreciated to see penalties on the opposite 10 attributable to their proximity to the purpose of assault/sport motion. With that, it stands to motive there could also be a slight uptick in offensive holding this season, however solely marginally.

The league workplace was happy with how defensive go interference was officiated this previous season, which is one other good factor when you like POINTS. Officers threw 309 flags for DPI final season, which was essentially the most I might discover in a season relationship to at the very least 1998. However the league desires officers to be a bit sharper on offensive go interference.

In 2020, simply 62 flags for OPI have been known as in comparison with a mean of 97.6 within the earlier 5 seasons. That amounted to at least one OPI flag for each fourth sport, and 2020 represented the fewest OPI flags since 2013 noticed simply 60. A couple of extra OPI flags will act as a slight counterbalance in a league the place offenses recurrently get the profit.

Firming down the taunting

There is a bizarre controversy the place the competitors committee and league hold saying the brand new emphasis on taunting was inspired by the NFLPA, with the NFLPA in flip saying that is not true in any respect and that it desires the purpose of emphasis overturned instantly.

The NFL desires to clarify it is not banning landing or turnover celebrations. It simply would not need gamers showboating on the expense of a competitor.

“[W]e must work at bringing this again to creating an surroundings that’s respectful of our opponents, and demonstrating the picture that the NFL desires to mission,” Walt Anderson, NFL SVP and head of officiating coaching and improvement, mentioned in his digital presentation to coaches this preseason.

The Tyreek Hill “peace” signal is clearly not going to be tolerated (nor Antoine Winfield Jr.’s for that matter.) And it is simple for people to say “simply do not have a good time towards/at your opponent.” However anybody who’s performed the sport will inform you the feelings are troublesome to maintain in verify in these moments, and docking a staff 15 yards for flexing a muscle is a bit a lot.

I worry this rule might dominate the primary couple weeks of the season very like the roughing-the-passer penalty did in 2018. And on the subject of celebrations, that brings me to…

Much less time to have a good time touchdowns

The NFL has already been in communication with particular groups coordinators this preseason about being extra ready for a faster extra-point operation in 2021.

And no, this has nothing to do with the taunting rule.

We informed you again in July the league was partnering with Hawk-Eye to hurry up its instant-replay course of. The partnership will lower delays attributable to replays each in coaches challenges and automated evaluations for turnovers and scoring. And that can very possible impression the size of time groups must have a good time touchdowns.

With the league having the ability to verify touchdowns in near-real time, which means the play clock may be wound and able to go extra shortly for the extra-point try. When gamers have a good time scores, they recurrently get just a little additional time to take action due to the automated overview. If these performs are confirmed extra shortly, that little additional time goes away.

I would not anticipate officers to wind the clock for the additional level moments after an apparent landing is scored; they will be cheap right here, I consider. However the operation from landing, to celebration, to overview, to additional level shall be a lot sooner this 12 months and groups must be prepared for it.

Really feel-good story of the week

One of many coolest issues I noticed from this week was a gesture second-year Jaguars operating again James Robinson made to his followers.

Robinson had worn jersey No. 25 from actually the primary time he ever performed organized soccer all through his profession at Illinois State. When he went undrafted and signed with the Jaguars, No. 25 was taken on the time by cornerback D.J. Hayden, who had eight years within the league. So he took No. 38 and shared it all through camp with one other undrafted participant (on protection), earlier than surprisingly making the staff after which going to No. 30 for his rookie season.

He totaled essentially the most scrimmage yards by an undrafted rookie in NFL historical past in 2020, which helped him earn NFL High 100 honors and deliberate to play this season in No. 30 once more. However greater than per week in the past, No. 25 got here open when security Jarrod Wilson was launched and Robinson noticed his alternative.

The Jaguars beginning operating again will play Sunday towards the Texans in his previous No. 25 after putting an undisclosed cope with the league to make the swap. However he isn’t leaving his followers hanging.

So here is the story: Jaguars PR supervisor David Wolf went to Robinson this week with an thought he ought to do one thing for the followers. See, in Jacksonville, there are nonetheless loads of Blake Bortles, Jalen Ramsey, Nick Foles, Calais Campbell and, sure, Tim Tebow jerseys on the market. Robinson was staying with the staff, however the swap made his previous jersey out of date to a point.

How might that be mounted?

The 2 brainstormed concepts. One thought was autographing a brand new No. 25 jersey and sending it to a fan who might show they already had a No. 30 jersey. However Robinson needed to handle extra individuals than only one fan. So, with some assist from Robinson’s agent Samantha Sankovich, the plan to signal all No. 30 jerseys was hatched.

Followers with No. 30 jerseys needed to take an image of themselves carrying the jersey and ship it to the Jaguars PR Twitter account by way of direct message to show they already had one. Wolf says inside lower than two days, greater than 100 followers despatched photos with the intention of sending of their jerseys for a signature. He will give it a few weeks for all of the shipments to return in, after which he’ll line up the jerseys for Robinson to signal sooner or later after which ship them again to the respective fan.

(This, by the best way, is not any small job for an NFL PR individual within the common season. Including 100-plus transport packages — and ensuring you get all of them proper — to a routine that entails a Week 1 away sport, plus your own home stadium internet hosting Packers-Saints, plus getting ready for a Week 2 residence sport your self is not making your job simpler).

Kudos to Robinson for doing proper by the followers. Gamers ought to have the liberty to alter their jersey numbers, however followers spend hard-earned cash on these jerseys — particularly on an undrafted operating again! It is one factor for a man to get launched or traded, however it’s one other when he merely desires to go down 5 digits and unexpectedly you are in an previous jersey. That form of energy does include a duty, and I am glad Robinson acknowledges that and is doing what he can to handle his followers.

Season sneaks up

Will Brinson and I spoke about this earlier within the week on the Decide Six Podcast and I’ve to say, the rhythm moving into Week 1 was vastly completely different than what we’re used to. I do not bear in mind the common season sneaking up on me the best way it has every other 12 months — even final 12 months with no preseason video games.

Brinson and I figured it needed to do with the brand new preseason schedule. The traditional rhythm of the offseason had been fourth exhibition, adopted by roster cuts 48 hours later, waiver claims the subsequent day after which a Labor Day Week 1 apply that Monday. That circulate will not ever be again, although. With three exhibitions and the lower deadline on a Tuesday, this preseason allow us to get lulled to sleep a bit on a protracted weekend that almost all NFL of us have by no means gotten earlier than.

Personally, I am going to take it. We have been in a position to make a journey to the mountains for the weekend with minimal NFL information missed. Texting sources across the league (once I had service), I discovered loads of others having fun with a while away from the staff amenities on a weekend the place usually they have been doing huge roster cuts and watching movie of potential new acquisitions in years previous.

General I feel the brand new preseason is a optimistic in quite a few respects. And I am certain that final evening’s sport will herald main scores, so it is not just like the completely different preseason will impression viewing habits. I am positively locked in for the season now, however only a few days in the past I used to be reminding myself that Week 1 actually, really is right here.

Week 1 picks

I had a reasonably good 12 months final season choosing video games straight up, however I by no means acquired that excellent week that I needed. Let’s strive it once more beginning with this week, the place I picked the Bucs to beat the Cowboys. Undefeated! By no means misplaced!

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click on right here)

Ben Roethlisberger appeared like a shell of himself final season, however I used to be very impressed with him in his restricted motion towards the Lions within the preseason. All studies out of Pittsburgh have him turning again the clock. Sadly, I do not belief his offensive line but, and I feel the offense goes to be a piece in progress. The Payments second-teamers almost relegated the Bears first-teamers final month. Buffalo retains it rollin’.

The choose: Payments

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click on right here)

It is arduous for me to purchase in on Sam Darnold proper now after he was solidly common throughout coaching camp. Matt Rhule has to take the bubble wrap off his QB on Sunday, and I feel he winds up getting the “W” on this revenge sport. The Panthers’ first eight video games are just a little delicate, so I might see them stunning individuals with the place they’re at within the standings come Halloween.

The choose: Panthers

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
TV: CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click on right here)

Cleveland has, in my view, one of the best roster high to backside within the NFL. I feel the Browns have high quality starters in any respect positions and actually good depth, they usually might completely be taking part in within the AFC title sport in late January. However Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes are just about unbeatable most any time within the season and particularly in September.

The choose: Chiefs

Different video games

Eagles over Falcons
Vikings over Bengals
49ers over Lions
Jaguars over Texans
Seahawks over Colts
Titans over Cardinals
Chargers over Soccer Group
Dolphins over Patriots
Packers over Saints
Broncos over Giants
Rams over Bears
Raiders over Ravens



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