FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Eagles' preseason opener in Chicago on Friday was hard to watch, for fans as well as the coaches who had to review the game tapes.
The reason? Penalties. Eagles coach Chip Kelly blamed the blizzard of yellow flags for the Eagles' lack of offensive rhythm. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis also cited penalties called against his unit.
Well, don't expect things to be much different Friday night when the Eagles face the Patriots. NFL referee Bill Parry, whose crew is working the Eagles-Pats joint practices, said the league is trying to make a point with all the penalties.
“I think we'll see 23, 24, 20 (penalties) for Weeks 2, 3, 4 (of the preseason),” Parry said Tuesday. “And the message will be sent that this is a point of emphasis and the players will adapt, the coaches will adapt and the officials will adapt, get on the same page, and Week 1, I don't think you'll see a big difference in the football game."
The Eagles were called for offensive holding a few times Friday. But the main “point of emphasis,” Parry said, involves contact between wide receivers and defensive players trying to cover them.
"It's not an easy call to make,” Parry said. “The rule hasn't changed. We've been through this before. Points of emphasis are made annually from the competition committee, and this is the second time in 14 years that defensive holding and illegal contact have been a point of emphasis. It's an offensive game and we want receivers to be able to run a free route. We do not want receivers to initiate contact with defenders to eliminate their opportunity to defend that route.”
So expect plenty of flags Friday and for the Eagles' two preseason home games. The good news, though, is that the officials will cut back on the calls once the regular season begins. They will have made their point.