Told Mike Tomlin is indeed going to have refs this week at #Steelers practice. With 44 penalties through 4 games... has to help.— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) September 30, 2014
The Pittsburgh Steelers are experiencing a troubling trend through four games in the 2014 NFL season. They have been flagged 44 times through four games and, as reported in Neal Coolong's Steelers 2-Minute Drill, the Steelers are on pace to shatter the NFL record for most penalty yards in a season.
Many blame coaches and some blame players but, with plenty of blame to go around, Mike Tomlin is reportedly going to bring in officials for this week's practices to help his players better understand the rules and how they're being enforced this year.
Will the officials help teach Antonio Brown an acceptable touchdown celebration dance that won't draw a flag? Will the officials tell Cam Heyward what might be overboard in terms of how he speaks to officials on the field? Will the officials be able to physically stop players from yanking on opponents' facemasks repeatedly?
The answer to all these questions is 'no', but what they might be able to do is help the defensive backs understand what they're defining as defensive holding, illegal hands-to-the-face and illegal contact.
Mike Tomlin downplayed those penalties in his post-game press conference, saying, "Those are minimal. That's a five-yard penalty. Maybe a first down," But is handing the opponent a first down truly minimal?
Some might call this a move of desperation, but the Steelers need to rectify their current penalty crisis before it gets worse.
Coaches can't go onto the field and stop players from committing penalties, but credit Tomlin for at least trying something to get his team to play cleaner football.
Whether or not this endeavor pays off will be on display this Sunday when the Steelers travel to play the Jacksonville Jaguars.