Giants secondary adjusts to new emphasis on holding

Posted Aug 10, 2014

Coach Tom Coughlin discussed the NFL's new emphasis Giants secondary adjusts to new emphasis on illegal contact and defensive holding

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Two games into their preseason schedule, the Giants have adjustments to make on offense, defense and understanding how the officials are calling the games.

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The NFL has made illegal contact and defensive holding points of emphasis this preseason and ostensibly for the regular season. The officials have been instructed to flag those infractions as they are written in the rulebook. For example, defensive backs are not permitted to make contact with receivers more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage, nor can they legally grab a player. In the past, defensive players often got away with hitting a receiver 10 yards down the field, or grabbing a fistful of jersey as the offensive player ran by.

They’re not getting away with it this preseason.

“Well, we knew coming in (officials would look for those fouls),” Coach Tom Coughlin said on a conference call today. “We were told by the officials last year when we had our meetings and when we voted on new rule proposals and on the matters of emphasis. The officials visited us in the spring and then when they returned to camp and talked about what is going on. We were told full well that the letter of the law would be introduced in terms of legal contact. Any contact beyond the five-yard area would be called. The pass interference is being called very close and there’s not a whole lot of room for error with regard to a defender in any type of contact with an opposing receiver or tight end or whatever. We knew full well that we could expect that the enforcement of the emphasis would be full-fledged.”

The Giants were penalized 10 times for 109 yards in their 20-16 preseason victory last night against the Pittsburgh Steelers in MetLife Stadium. Five of the 10 penalties were called on the defensive backs: Prince Amukamara and Zack Bowman (both for illegal contact), Jayron Hosley (twice flagged for pass interference) and Bennett Jackson (defensive holding).

In the opener last week vs. Buffalo, four of the six Giants penalties were called on the secondary: Amukamara (illegal contact), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Hosley (holding), and Bowman (pass interference). Hosley was flagged for another hold, but it was declined.


“I think some of this has to be settled and I am confident it will be talked out as we go forward in these preseason games,” Coughlin said, “but the fact that they are being called close is not a surprise. That has been well explained to us. The idea that the strict enforcement of any type of violation; if you notice even in the fine print where anyone who grabs a shirt is going to be called for pass interference, either offense or defense, so we had one of those yesterday, where it was very hard to find the reason for the call. But then all of sudden you saw the shirt get grabbed, very minute, but it was obviously seen by the official and called. It didn’t really have that much to do with the effect on the person running the route. (The official) saw it and it happened and, boom, it is called. Even down to that extent, it has all been spelled out and it is going to be our job to come to some kind of an understanding of what is and what isn’t. To a certain extent you can’t take all the physical aspect of the game out of it in terms of  whether you say five yards down the field or whatever you say. We have to do a better job.”

More specifically, the defensive backs must adjust to the stricter interpretation of the rules.

“It’s tough,” Amukamara said. “Last year, they allowed the corners to have that healthy five (yards). So six or maybe seven, depending on who you are, you can get away with just touching the guy. Now it’s strict hands-off, do not touch the receiver after five yards. It’s just something that us DBs are going to have to get used to and be more aggressive within the five yards."

The Giants’ defensive backs – and no doubt those around the league – are hopeful the officials will make their point in the preseason and ease up a bit when the regular season begins next month.

“Definitely could be,” Amukamara said. “I hope it’s like that. I hope they’re more lenient. But I think they’re trying to set the standard now and get us to play more clean.”

“They’re probably trying to send a message now,” corner Walter Thurmond III said. “I mean, it slows the games down a lot once you’re throwing all these flags every other play. We’re in a situation where it’s a passing league, most of these teams are throwing the ball 30, 40 times a game. If half of those are penalties, it’s going to slow the game down a lot. I’m not even talking about the incomplete passes. They’re already going to slow the game down. I think it might die down once the season starts getting under way.”