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Sean Payton 'upset' with Saints' preseason penalties

The throwing arms of NFL referees must be getting sore with all the penalty flags they've been slinging during the preseason.

In Friday's four games alone, a combined 86 penalties were accepted (that's accepted, not thrown) with the Tennessee Titans and New Orleans Saints matchup topping out at a gaudy 32.

The emphasis on defensive holding, illegal contact and illegal hands to the face have caused a cascade of flags.

The penalties have bogged down preseason games in the first two weeks, frustrating fans and media alike. The Titans and Saints took 3 hours and 19 minutes to finish their contest. The slow, plodding games -- already interrupted by numerous TV timeouts -- are not a service to paying customers.

Still, the league has proclaimed their mandate that the point must be proven -- let's not pretend the men wearing stripes are doing this of their own volition -- and they want players to adjust.

(You can save the "NFL stands for 'Nother Flag League or National Flag League" jokes. About 724,632 people said them before you).

To their credit, coaches aren't playing the blame game when it comes to the penalties.

"If you can't play within the rules, you can't play in this league," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said after a 21-penalty game against the Patriots, per the Philadelphia Daily News. "That's the bottom line. You're just handing people first downs. We better figure it out.


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"You don't have to agree with the speed limit, but if the cop is out there with the speed gun, you better take your foot off the gas, or he's going to pull you over."

Playing off Kelly's metaphor, the rate in which we're seeing flags would be as if every single car on the highway were stopped for doing 72 mph in a 70 mph zone.

Saints coach Sean Payton was highly perturbed with his own team, vowing to correct the penalties in practice.

"Obviously, that was painful to watch," Payton said. "I can't recall ever a game with that many penalties. And here is the thing: most of the ones I saw were good calls. So this isn't about a crew calling a lot of penalties, this is about something I have to do a better job with. ...

"It's the first sign of a team that has no discipline. And that's the first sign of poor coaching. ... I'm very upset."

If the coaches are taking the proper steps to correct the errors, then the league has proven its point. Now that everyone got the message, maybe all those silly "prove a point penalties" can follow the 33-yard extra point off stage left after the second week of preseason is over.

The latest "Around the League Podcast" talks quarterback battles and debates the gang's preseason power rankings.

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