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Penalty Fun Facts from 2009

Was working on a project this morning involving 2009 penalty numbers and I thought I would share some of the interesting random tidbits that I came across. No rhyme or reason to this, just things that struck my fancy.

Can you guess which team forced the most intentional grounding penalties? You will be shocked. Answer at the end.

Jacksonville got all the refs who don't like to call penalties, apparently. They had the fewest penalties (80) and the fewest penalties against (72).

Oakland led the league with 138 penalties and their opponents were only flagged 99 times. Some things never change.

The Jets were called for six penalties in overtime. No other team had more than one penalty in overtime.

Baltimore was penalized 16 times for defensive pass interference, five more than any other team. Three of those were declined or offsetting, but the Ravens still gave up 273 yards with DPI, nearly 100 more than any other team.

Jacksonville was not called for DPI all season.

The refs who did Green Bay games just loved DPI. The Packers were flagged nine times for 150 yards. Green Bay opponents were flagged 15 times (three of which were declined) for 184 yards.

Indianapolis gained the most yardage from DPI, 211 yards. Green Bay was second. Buffalo only gained two yards from DPI, and Carolina only nine yards.

San Diego was the only team not called for offensive pass interference all season.

Green Bay was called for 10 face mask penalties, for 144 yards. Tampa Bay (6 for 90) was the only other team that lost more than 75 yards because of face mask penalties.

St. Louis was the only team not called for a face mask, although Atlanta's only face mask of the year was declined and was an offensive penalty, not a defensive penalty (on lineman Harvey Dahl).

Buffalo opponents were called for roughing the passer nine times. New England opponents were called seven times, and Oakland opponents five. No other team drew more than three such flags.

Cincinnati was called for delay of game a mind-boggling 15 times. No other team had more than 11 delay of game penalties. Get rid of the meaningless punt delays or that silly "draw the other team offside on fourth down" thing, and the Bengals still had 11 delay of game penalties on offense. San Francisco had 10 on offense, but no other team had more than seven.

Atlanta and Houston were the only two offenses never called for delay of game.

Finally... the team that forced the most intentional grounding penalties was Cleveland, with five. Yes, really, Cleveland. Pittsburgh forced three, no other team more than two.

Comments

31 comments, Last at 19 Feb 2010, 8:03am

1 Re: Penalty Fun Facts from 2009

When you said I'd never guess, I figured it would be Minnesota, courtesy of his lordship.

Also surprised to see that Philly didn't lead the league in delay of game. Then again, they're good at squandering their timeouts instead.

2 Re: Penalty Fun Facts from 2009

C-Town...number 1 in the NFL at something that can lead to wins....sort of and aside from Josh Cribbs being a demon on the field. lol

Rob Ryan is fun, glad we kept that guy. I hope he comes out of his shell and starts to go all Rex on em

3 in other news...

Indianapolis gained the most yardage from DPI, 211 yards.

...the Sky is still blue.

New England opponents were called [second most][for roughing].

...and the sun sets in the West.

9 Re: in other news...

In reply to by michael (not verified)

IIRC, the patriots got called for roughing the passer more than almost everyone in the league, so it goes both ways.

5 Re: Penalty Fun Facts from 2009

that silly "draw the other team offside on fourth down" thing

Several times this year, I remember a team trotting the offense out on to the field, getting a player on the defense to jump, only for the center to not see it and not snap the ball, allowing the defender to get back onsides safely. POINTLESS!!!!

"Just look at that pumpkin."
-John Madden, looking at the moon.

7 Re: Penalty Fun Facts from 2009

That infuriates me too. I've never understood that. Why are you trying to draw someone offsides if you're not even going to snap it? My theory is that the players know it never works, so when it actually does work, they're so surprised that it takes them a second to recover.

8 Re: Penalty Fun Facts from 2009

How many leaping flags did Tampa Bay have?

/beating a dead horse about 6 years too late

12 Re: Penalty Fun Facts from 2009

This is really interesting. But I think, if you want to draw meaningful conclusions from the data, you need to correct for team if you're evaluating refs, and correct for refs if you're evaluating the team. You're doing this already, although not formally, when you point out that Oakland was penalized way more than Oakland opponents (implying that, yes, the Raiders really are sloppy and didn't just draw flag-happy refs). rich conley (not verified) also does this when he points out that New England had a lot of roughing penalties called for them, but also against them, implying that their referees just happened to like calling roughing the passer, not that Brady gets special treatment (or perhaps, because Brady does get special treatment, but refs call roughing tightly on BOTH teams when Brady is in the game).

In general, I think it's a good thing to report penalty differential, not total penalties. Saying team X got the most false start penalties isn't meaningful, in case they got refs that love calling false starts. But saying team X got called for false starts half again as often as their opponents really implies that they were jumpy. (Technically, you should probably also normalize by total offensive snaps, as well--the Colts probably had fewer offensive penalties just by virtue of having fewer total offensive snaps than a lot of teams, because opponents tend to minimmize the number of drives in the game when facing the Colts. The Browns may have had fewer offensive penalties because they were constantly going 3-and-out).

13 Re: Penalty Fun Facts from 2009

I just want to clarify that my comment above isn't complaint or criticism. I like it when Aaron posts little interesting nuggets like this, even if it's not completely polished statistical analysis. But interesting things like this get my creative energy flowing, and I want to weigh in with interesting ideas I have of what you could do with the data...

29 Re: Penalty Fun Facts from 2009

Sparse data sets? I work with them for a living. Does CRM114 Sparse Spectra (the original .css extension) mean anything to youse guys? My fav stat was a SABRmetric: Ron Santo led the league during his NL career with the Cubs for batting/slugging average with men on base, when his team was up by five or more runs.

Amazing that only 3 teams using football metrics enough, after all these years.

19 Re: Penalty Fun Facts from 2009

I'd be interested to see the year on year for delay of game calls. Just anecdotally speaking, they seem to be way up on 4 or 5 years ago. Could very well be wrong of course...

20 Re: Penalty Fun Facts from 2009

"Buffalo opponents were called for roughing the passer nine times. New England opponents were called seven times, and Oakland opponents five. No other team drew more than three such flags."

Yet another example of Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick getting the superstar treatment.

21 Re: Penalty Fun Facts from 2009

Buffalo and Oakland are two of the top four teams in raw sack totals. Those QBs got took a beating, and some of the hits they took were judged to be illegal.

As for New England, I'll leave the obvious jokes to someone else.

23 Re: Penalty Fun Facts from 2009

To add some numbers, Bills QB was sacked 46 times, Brady was sacked 16 times (Brian Hoyer was sacked twice as well), Oakland QB was sacked 49 times.

So the Bills got a roughing call for each 5 sacks, Oakland got one for each 10, and Patriots got one for each 2.5. It would be nice to have QB hit numbers to have a better understanding, but those numbers look pretty bad claiming star QBs don't get calls.

22 Re: Penalty Fun Facts from 2009

"The refs who did Green Bay games just loved DPI. The Packers were flagged nine times for 150 yards. Green Bay opponents were flagged 15 times (three of which were declined) for 184 yards."

I'd actually argue that the high number of DPI penalties in Packers games is attributable to qualities intrinsic to Green Bay, not the refs that they got assigned. Green Bay receivers are great at drawing DPI penalties, and its defensive backs play aggressively and make a lot of contact.

26 Re: Penalty Fun Facts from 2009

Nine yards of DPI called for the Panthers. Just amazing. My favorite is still the Patriot game when Hoover was tackled 40 yards down the field from behind while the ball was still five yards away from him. Easily the most obvious pass interference of the season. No call.

I don't get the refs were assigned that happened to call X penalties. Aren't there 16 crews and 16 games in a team's season? Are some refs covering one team more often? It seems that each team should see each crew one time so it should balance out.

27 Re: Penalty Fun Facts from 2009

If the same two teams played each other every week, that would be an extremely plausible scenario. However, since that's not the case, I'm guessing it's nearly impossible to have every team play a different opponent every week, with every team also having each of the various crews officiate only one of their games.

28 Re: Penalty Fun Facts from 2009

Not that it came from this article...but what really, really bothers me about the officiating in the NFL from the previous year is the inconsistency from crew to crew.

Offensive holding for example is just a crap shoot.

Sure, some variation is to be expected, but when you have out and out tackling by the o-line not getting called from a "loose" crew, then enough is enough. That crew isn't doing their fundamental job.

Being a "loose" or a "tight" crew is one thing...ignoring blatant penalties is incompetence.

30 Re: Penalty Fun Facts from 2009

NFL referee average annual income is just $27,000, or $1,688 per game. NHL refs make $139,000, or $1,695 per game. NBA refs make $128,000, or $1,561 per game, and MLB umpires make $141,000, or $870 per game.

So NFL refs obviously also have day jobs, while all the other sports have full-time refs and umpires. I'm guessing that soccer refs also need day jobs in the U.S. You get what you pay for.