NFL officiating will have an area of emphasis throughout the 2022 season for the officials.

According to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert, the NFL reached out to its on-field officials and wanted the officials to pay closer attention to illegal contact fouls during games. This new request could lead to more penalties being given out during the entire season.

Illegal contact penalties are 5-yard penalties and will result in automatic first downs for the offense (Via ESPN):

“The NFL has asked its on-field officials to pay particular attention to illegal contact fouls during the 2022 season, a league spokesperson confirmed Monday,” ESPN staff writer Kevin Seifert said.

The illegal contact penalty occurs when a defender makes prohibited contact on the quarterback, who has possession of the ball in the pocket. In 2021, there was a decrease in illegal contact penalties. Officials will need to identify where the illegal contact took place and spot the position of the quarterback and the ball before giving out a penalty.

This will be one more area for the on-field officials to focus on and identify a penalty during the 2022 season. In the past, flags increased when the NFL put an emphasis on officials giving out penalties for illegal contact. The NFL could be more stringent on defensive players who make prohibited contact.