Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

31 Oct 2011

Some Early Penalty Stats

You may have noticed that we're not doing the "Numbers Crunching" column on ESPN anymore this year. Unfortunately, that means I don't exactly have a lot of places for all the little stat tidbits that we have marked down in our myriad of stat workbooks. So I figured I'd empty my notebook with some Extra Points every so often.

Today, let's take a look at early penalty numbers. These are through Week 8 except for Monday Night Football.

Here are the players who lead the league in penalties:

10: SEA CB Brandon Browner (for a league-high 108 yards!)
STL OT Rodger Saffold
8: CAR OT Byron Bell
MIN CB Cedric Griffin
CHI OT J'Marcus Webb
7: PHI DE Jason Babin
DEN OT Ryan Clady
SF OT Anthony Davis
SEA OT Russell Okung
ARI CB Patrick Peterson

Here's a look at the most penalized and least penalized teams so far this season:

Most Penalized Teams,
Weeks 1-8 2011
x Least Penalized Teams,
Weeks 1-8 2011
Team Pen/G x Team Pen/G
OAK 10.9 x MIA 5.0
SEA 10.7 x WAS 5.3
TB 10.3 x NO 5.9
CAR 9.3 x JAC 6.1
ARI 9.1 x IND 6.3
SF 9.1 x BUF 6.4
DET 9.0 x DEN 6.7
STL 8.9 x HOU 6.8

The Lions seem to have drawn the league's most eager officiating crews this season. Not only are they near the top of the league in penalties, but they have benefited from the most opponent penalties, and it is not even close. Detroit opponents have 98 penalties this year. No other team is above 70.

If we want to split penalties by unit, Seattle leads the league with 5.0 offensive penalties per game, followed by St. Louis (4.9) and Tampa Bay (4.9). Oakland leads the league with 5.6 defensive penalties per game, followed by Detroit (4.1) and Arizona (4.0).

All numbers above include declined and offsetting penalties.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 31 Oct 2011

31 comments, Last at 05 Nov 2011, 2:25pm by G

Comments

1
by zenbitz :: Mon, 10/31/2011 - 5:26pm

NFC West FTW! 9.45 Penalties/Game!

2
by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/31/2011 - 5:46pm

Interesting that Miami is the least penalized team in the league. And are winless. Ultimately, even if you follow the rules, you have to be good at football, eventually. I see Washington, Indianapolis and Denver, three other Suck for Luck franchises, in the top of the rankings as well.

4
by MJ (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2011 - 6:01pm

IIRC, the Colts have quite frequently been among the least penalized team in the league prior to this year, so their record this year is unlikely to say anything about their low number of penalties.

9
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2011 - 9:49pm

Suggests to me that the Dolphins aren't aggressive enough. They sure looked like they decided to back off against the Broncos two weeks ago.

31
by G (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2011 - 2:25pm

Exactly. Miami is not aggressive enough so they are a bad defense despite low penalty rate. On the other hand New Orleans is a great team because they are disciplined so they have a low penalty rate.

3
by Dave :: Mon, 10/31/2011 - 6:00pm

Amazing that the Colts remain in the top ten after yesterday's flag-fest.

5
by turbohappy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2011 - 6:08pm

I was thinking that as well.

6
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/31/2011 - 6:18pm

Love the stats but could you perhaps post a few more, the full tables for units and maybe penalties adjusted for Ed Hoculi induced flag swarms?

7
by Costa :: Mon, 10/31/2011 - 8:26pm

I just don't get it. How is it through so many different rosters, so many different coaching regimes, so many different environments, so many different eras... How is it that the Raiders ALWAYS lead the league in penalties?!

10
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2011 - 9:51pm

Probably because of the Raider image and the expectations raised by that image.
Not to mention a lack of stability on the roster.

16
by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 10:24am

? They had 10/11 defensive starters returning this year. Admittedly Groves has been benched and Shaugnessy is on IR.

19
by Kellerman :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 12:53pm

The first thought that came to my mind upon perusing this list was "isn't it amazing how some franchises maintain reputations and or performance on this list across decades." Thirty years ago the Raiders were commonly the most penalized team in the league and the Dolphins commonly the least. At that time, much was made of the fact that they were also commonly among the very best teams in the game, and cited by some as evidence that penalties didn't really matter in the overall scheme of things.

22
by DenverCheeze (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 4:32pm

If you believe in the psychology of colors...the guys wearing black tend to feel tougher and less like they need to follow the rules. What color is Miami again...light blue? Got any stats to back up that color theory?

24
by andrew :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 10:16pm

Not just that... if you go back to 70s Raiders always would lead league in penalties... and Dolphins would always have fewest...

30
by Doogie (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 7:12pm

It's the black uniforms.

Statistically shown to draw more penalties under some sort of black hat/bad guy psychobabble.

8
by dbt :: Mon, 10/31/2011 - 8:46pm

Of course, the reason J'Marcus Webb is the only Bears OL player on the top list is that the RG/RT spots keep getting benched and rotated around so they can't accumulate counting stats quickly enough.

13
by akn :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 12:08am

I honestly believe Webb mistakes yellow flags for gold stars. Either that or he's deaf in his left ear.

21
by tuluse :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 4:26pm

Call me crazy, but I think Webb is going to develop into a reasonable left tackle.

25
by akn :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 1:58am

If by reasonable = replacement level, I agree. But he still has a way to go.

I don't mind giving up an occasional sack, but no reasonable LT should have plays where they simply and utterly get beat (Gate 68 style).

26
by tuluse :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 2:23am

Replacement level means equal to a guy you can sign off the street. So no, that's not what I mean. I mean around average. Like a 14-20th best left tackle.

27
by akn :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 7:04pm

I was under the impression replacement level = someone you sign of the street that can start. If the Bears release Webb today, I'm not sure anyone signs him, let alone makes him a starter LT.

28
by tuluse :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 2:40am

Replacement level = someone you can sign off the street. That's it. If a team wanted too they could stat such a player, but that has no bearing on whether such a player was replacement level. The idea is, you can replace them with almost anyone thus they are at a level of replacement.

Are there any free agents who are better or equal to Webb? If so, he is replacement level, if not he isn't. This question is trickier than it appears because knowledge of the scheme is quite important for an offensive lineman.

29
by Jerry :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 3:13am

Starting doesn't enter into it. The concept of replacement level goes back (at least) to Bill James. His idea was that the level of freely available marginal talent was a useful standard to compare players to, since an average player has some value.

11
by Marko :: Mon, 10/31/2011 - 11:48pm

"The Lions seem to have drawn the league's most eager officiating crews this season. Not only are they near the top of the league in penalties, but they have benefited from the most opponent penalties, and it is not even close. Detroit opponents have 98 penalties this year. No other team is above 70."

The Bears greatly contributed to that with an unbelievable number of false start penalties in their game at Detroit. That just required officials that paid attention, not officials that were especially eager.

12
by BywaterBrat :: Mon, 10/31/2011 - 11:53pm

Nobody wants to see Miami grab the next "guaranteed" star of yet another American sport.

14
by Gubdude :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 8:55am

I expected to see Doug Free on here.

15
by stephenbawesome :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 10:08am

Posted before Marcus McNeill decided he wanted to make a run at this list...

17
by wr (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 11:44am

Somewhat surprised Suh is not one of the leaders in flags...

18
by rdy4thefiesta :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 11:57am

It's not surprising to see mainly OTs and CBs at the top of the individual penalty list, but how in the world has Justin Babin accumulated 7 penalties already as a DE? Is he jumping offsides a ton? Does he have a few roughing the passer penalties?

23
by zenbitz :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 4:45pm

a bunch of those are offsides

20
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 3:12pm

Surprised to see Clady there. Not quite sure what to make of that...