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NFL continuing to stifle the run game in favor of passing

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Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

It’s the last day of July, and that of course means one thing: For those of you with NFL Game Pass subscriptions, today’s the last day to binge on film before it’s time to renew the subscription for 2019. Also, it means that the NFL Preseason kicks off Thursday with the Hall of Fame Game at 8 pm Eastern Time.

The arrival of the Hall of Fame game means it is just a week until the Seattle Seahawks kick off their own preseason by hosting the Denver Broncos at Century Link on August 8. It will be the first chance to see the Hawks rookies in something resembling game action since they were drafted or signed as undrafted free agents back in the spring. However, it will also be fans first opportunities to see how refs will be officiating the points of emphasis for the league this season that were announced earlier this week.

The reason that holding penalties being a point of emphasis could have such an impact on the Seahawks offense in 2019 is very simple: holding is far more likely to be called on a run play than on a pass play. Specifically, as Josh Hermsmeyer found last fall, between 2009 and early in the 2018 season, there were more holding calls on running plays than on passing plays (once holding on scrambles were removed).

Now, things are even uglier once looking at the fact that passing plays are called more often than running plays. In fact, according to the Pro-Football-Reference.com Game Play Finder, between 2009 and 2017, only 42.16% of plays in the NFL were rushing plays, and yet according to the numbers those 42.16% of rushing plays accounted for far more than half of the holding penalties.

In any case, fans have no problem recalling the numerous holding penalties that derailed potential scoring drives in recent seasons. Hopefully, though, this point of emphasis will be more of a focus during the preseason than during the regular season, and by the time Week 1 rolls around the refs have fallen back into their old habits of not caring as much about offensive holding.