Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

19 Aug 2010

Baltimore Ravens section - penalties?

In the Ravens section of FOA 2010, there's a paragraph on "Penalties" that seems to suggest that the Ravens lost more games than they should have in 2009 because they are penalty-prone on defense:

"...the Ravens defense committed a staggering number of penalties last season, and it directly contributed to the underperformance of the team."

But the Pregame Show section of FOA 2010 mentions that "Teams with more offensive penalties generally lose more games, but there is no correlation between defensive penalties and losses."

Which of these is the more correct in describing the Ravens of 2009 and going forward? The Pregame Show paragraph does acknowledge that "Specific defensive penalties of course lose games..." - so it seems possible that the Ravens happened to lose several 2009 games because of defensive flags - but that paragraph's argument seems to be that over the season, that should have evened out for the Ravens - unless what it's really saying is that over several seasons, it would even out for the Ravens, not necessarily just in a single season?

Thanks for any clarification or explanations.

Posted by: jtduffin on 19 Aug 2010

1 reply , Last at 24 Aug 2010, 7:14pm by roto.box@verizon.net

Re: Baltimore Ravens section - penalties?
by roto.box@verizon.net :: Tue, 08/24/2010 - 7:14pm

Hard for me to weigh in on the statistical foundation behind a lack of correlation between defensive penalties and losses, but I can weigh in on the Ravens. I saw every one of their games last year. It's undeniable that there were a few games where the type and timing of certain defensive penalties had a significant impact on the game. For example, the first game versus NE had some (questionable) defensive penalties on third down that extended drives that resulted in points.

I think it really comes down to the timing and severity of the penalties for the Ravens. With a weak secondary, the DBs may be more inclined to hold or suffer large yardage PI penalties. Many of the Ravens penalties were "aggressive" penalties where they erred on the side of plowing into a QB for example. I'm hopeful that they will play smarter and that the front 7 will take some pressure off the secondary.

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