NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino is okay with the rising number of penalties in the NFL this season, telling the Associated Press on Thursday that "we're in a good place" and adding that he "(doesn't) see a diminished product on the field."
NFL games this season are averaging about 17 penalties, up more than two per game from the 14.7 at this point in 2013. The biggest difference in the number of flags has come in the defensive backfield. Violations like defensive holding and offensive pass interference are higher than they've been in 20 years at this point in the season, and the league has already exceeded last year's total of 54 illegal contact calls.
Blandino made it clear that he expects these changes to stick. "If we pull back now, then we aren't being consistent, and I think that's important," he said.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also commented Thursday on the issue of increased penalties and the pace of play:
"There was a good report on the state of the game, the pace of the game, the instant replay system that has I think improved, not only the consistency of calls, but also I think on the pace of the game. It's had a significant impact because we have been able to do it more efficiently and our crews, with their communication system, have been able to do that a great deal quicker in officiating the games."
Goodell noted that the pace of the game has improved because of the increased efficiency among the crews, and this is supported by the fact that games are actually running a few minutes shorter this season despite the added penalties.
While the extra penalties have made for a cleaner game, they've also brought greater frustration among the players who have seen their highlight-worthy plays negated by flags. The 15 touchdowns that have been called back represent a 36 percent increase over this point last year.