New England Patriots

By Matt Dolloff,

NFL senior vice president of officiating AL Riveron revealed via Twitter on Tuesday that he met with Bill Belichick and the rest of the Patriots coaching staff to discuss what to expect for officiating in the 2018 season.

The league’s re-wording of the catch rule dominated the attention among officiating matters for the coming campaign, but Riveron mentioned other “points of emphasis” that he discussed with the Patriots head coach. Those include defensive holding penalties and what Riveron termed “QB protection”.

Based on a February video released by NFL executive VP of football operations Troy Vincent, officials will have an increased focus on protecting quarterbacks who run for first downs and give themselves up with a slide.

There’s no official rule change in 2018 associated with defensive holding, so it appears that the officials will simply look closer at what defenders, particularly defensive backs, are doing on any given play.

Belichick and the Patriots have long been known for their deep knowledge of the rulebook as a team, as well as how to use rule changes to their advantage. One notable example of this is how they adjusted to the league moving touchbacks up to the 25-yard line in 2016. On kickoffs, the Patriots began blasting the football high in the air and landing it down by the goal line, often forcing opponents to attempt a return and giving the coverage unit enough time to close and make tackles short of the 25.

It will be interesting to see how the Pats adjust to the latest changes, particularly the catch rule.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at

Click here for all Patriots stories from the flagship station, 98.5 The Sports Hub.