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Notes: Penalties way down through 3 weeks of 2020 NFL season

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Miami Dolphins v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Nothing worse than having an NFL game ruined by the officials. Of course, you’re likely a Detroit Lions fan, so I don’t need to remind you of that. And while the Lions nearly fell victim to another questionable call last Sunday, 2020 appears to be a year in which officiating is finally taking a backseat to actual game play.

Through three weeks of the season, we are see a lot fewer penalty flags being thrown on a per game basis. Per Rob Pizzola, games are averaging just 11.8 penalties a game, nearly two fewer per game than last year (13.48).

This doesn’t appear to just be a coincidence. Last week, NFL senior VP of officiating training and development Walt Anderson told NFL.com that there was a concerted effort to focus officiating on “clear and obvious” infractions.

“When we were preparing, certainly going in, we had a theme of ‘clear and obvious’ and we wanted that to continue throughout the year,” Anderson said. “We had to address clear and obvious. You can’t miss clear and obvious and it starts with that. Going forward we don’t want all of a sudden to start calling the ticky tack stuff. We want things that are clear.”

It’s likely no coincidence that we have subsequently seen a significant increase in scoring. As Pizzola points out, holding penalties appear to be most impacted by the change in officiating, and that has led to 5.4 more points scored per game. Here’s the full breakdown:

  • Recently governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order, opening movie theaters and bowling alleys among other small, indoor gatherings. However, Whitmer told MLive this week that she does not plan on making an exception for the Detroit Lions. So don’t expect fans in the stands anytime soon.

  • If you’ve got time tonight and don’t want to watch a debate, NFL Network is debuting their series NFL360 for the season at 8 p.m. Tuesday night, and it appears they will be covering Quintez Cephus and his journey through the sexual assault allegations and subsequent acquittal:

  • We haven’t been blessed with a Chris Spielman broadcast yet, but his “3 & Out” series with DetroitLions.com continues this year. Here he is breaking down three key plays from Lions vs. Cardinals:

  • The Lions’ protected practice squad players for Week 4 are the same as last week:

  • Jonah Freakin’ Jackson:

  • Oh, and happy birthday to soon-to-be Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson: