Penalties concern Saints, guard Evans
METAIRIE — New Orleans Saints All-Pro guard Jahri Evans has uncharacteristically been among the most penalized players in the NFL this season.
Evans has committed 11 penalties, tied for second-most in the league, behind only former LSU guard Stephen Peterman of Detroit. Evans’ eight holding calls are the most in the NFL.
Evans committed just five penalties last season, including three holding calls. Two years ago, he committed four penalties, including one hold. So he has committed more penalties this season than the last two combined and has twice as many holding calls as he had in the past two seasons combined. In his previous four seasons, Evans committed 20 penalties.
“I’m not trying to hold guys,” Evans said, “but at the same time, I’m trying to finish guys. I guess I’ve got to be a little more poised and a little more conscious at the point of attack. When they see a guy go down, nine out of 10 times they’re going to throw a flag. So that’s something I got to be aware of and something I got to change.’’
In last week’s 34-30 victory at Cincinnati, Evans was called for two of the Saints’ season-high 12 penalties. One was declined and the other 11 brought 100 yards in lost yardage. In seven of New Orleans’ previous 11 games, it was penalized five or fewer times.
That performance made penalties a major point of emphasis at Saints camp this week. Coach Sean Payton brought a local officiating crew to multiple practices to point out to his players what they need to do to reduce the number of penalties. Evans consulted with the officials and his coaches, and studied film of the calls against him.
“I’ve gone back and watched and have seen where they’re throwing the (flags) from,” Evans said. “Some of them I don’t think they have the angle to see the hold, but they’re still throwing it. They’re just seeing guys going down and they’re throwing the flag.
“(But) they’re not going to pick up the flag, so it’s something you have to be more disciplined about.’’
The calls against Evans, a fourth-round draft choice from Bloomsburg (Pa.) State, stand out more because he has earned a reputation as one of the best guards in the NFL. That reputation was reinforced during the offseason when New Orleans made him the highest-paid guard in the NFL by signing him to a seven-year, $56.7 million contract.
“I’m not doing anything different,” Evans said. “I don’t feel I am. My coaches don’t feel I am.”
Evans said he thinks more holding calls are being made because this season the NFL moved the umpire from the middle of the defense to the offensive backfield, where he has a different perspective on offensive linemen.
“A couple of the calls have been dead-on,” Evans said. “The game is fair. I’m not trying to say don’t call it or let it go, but definitely call it both ways.”
Evans said he won’t allow himself to become less aggressive out of concern that he’ll be called for a penalty.
2theadvocate.com | Saints | Penalties concern Saints, guard Evans — Baton Rouge, LA
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