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Inside Slant: What you need to know about the referee for Packers-Seahawks

9/4/2014

John Parry, you're on the clock.

Parry is the referee for Thursday night's kickoff game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, according to ESPN's Sal Paolantonio. That puts Parry in the important position of setting a tone for the way the NFL's 2014 points of emphasis will be called in the regular season.

We all know what happened in the preseason: Calls for defensive holding and illegal contact rose by nearly five times the 2013 rate. NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino predicted that those figures would regulate as coaches, players and officials adjusted, and indeed that process seemed to begin in the final week of the preseason.

It's worth noting that Parry's crew was a relatively prolific caller of defensive holding and illegal contact last season, before the points of emphasis were announced. It called a combined 26 of them in 15 regular-season weeks, tying with Clete Blakeman's crew for the most in the league.

You'll see in the chart that Parry's 2014 crew called 20 such penalties during the preseason, according to ESPN Stats & Information. A full penalty breakdown isn't available in the preseason, so I can't tell you where that ranked among other crews. What I can tell you is that since Parry's 2013 rate was higher than all but one referee, his increase to 2014 wasn't as severe as most.

What does that mean for Thursday night's game, which includes a Seahawks secondary that most assume is a target for the rule emphasis? To be safe, we'll put it this way: Last year, games refereed by Parry's crew averaged 1.73 calls for defensive holding or illegal contact. I'll take the over for Thursday night, but I have a hard time believing the NFL wants its signature kickoff game to be bogged down by penalties. We'll see.