Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

18 Aug 2014

Mandatory Monday: Straight Story

Some big penalty stats in here, as well as talk about completion rates and quarterback "packages."

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 18 Aug 2014

5 comments, Last at 20 Aug 2014, 6:58pm by Kevin from Philly


by are-tee :: Mon, 08/18/2014 - 3:40pm

"Mornhinweg has developed an obsession with wacky substitution packages. The man who gave direct snaps to Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight"

Maybe I'm being nit-picky, but McKnight never played for Mornhinweg. The Jets cut him before 2013, MM's first year as OC for the team.

by MJK :: Mon, 08/18/2014 - 4:53pm


That penalty data is indeed disturbing. I'm perplexed as to who (outside of slot receivers and QB's) thinks this "point of emphasis" is a good idea. The league has had near record offense and scoring the last couple of years...so you want to open it up more? Is it a doomsday overreaction to the fact that a defensively oriented team won the SB? We can't have that, after all...

My feeling with these two penalties has always been one of frustration. Defensive holding and illegal contact are "minor" penalties, and highly subject to judgement calls, and yet they carry an automatic first down. A defense will get an offense into 3rd and 23, the QB will throw a fluttering incomplete pass 2 yards past the LOS, and a flag for illegal contact or defensive holding on the back side of the play, where the QB never even looked, will gift them a 1st down.

If the league really wants to tighten up these penalties, then for the love of all that is holy, GET RID OF THE AUTOMATIC FIRST DOWN!!!. OK, fine give the offense 5 yards and a do-over, facing 3rd and 18. Don't wash out the combined defensive excellence from the previous two plays with one ticky-tack 5 yard call.

Or to even the things up, make offensive holding a loss of down penalty. If you're giving up an automatic first down on a defensive holding penalty, it means you're giving the offense the benefit of the doubt that if the defense hadn't fouled, they would have converted. OK, let's be fair then. Let's give the defense the benefit of the doubt that if the offense hadn't fouled, the defense would have gotten the sack!

by Duff Soviet Union :: Tue, 08/19/2014 - 4:14am

"Is it a doomsday overreaction to the fact that a defensively oriented team won the SB? We can't have that, after all..."

Um, yes, that's exactly what it is. 10 years ago a Peyton Manning led team crapped the bed in the playoffs so the rules got changed. This year a Peyton Manning led team craps the bed in the playoffs, so let's "emphasise" the rules. It's Roger Goodell, you weren't expecting something that was actually thought out prior to implementation were you?

It's an absolute joke. Did anyone actually watch a game last year and say "this isn't fair, defenses just have it way too easy these days"?

by Will Allen :: Tue, 08/19/2014 - 8:23am

I'm all for literal enforcement of the rules, but in this instance, I've long said the rule should allow contact for 10 yards instead of 5, so as to make running the ball an important offensive capability again. Do that, along with making punting out of bounds a penalty, and we'd see more four down offense as well, I suspect.

No, I'm not holding my breath.

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 08/20/2014 - 6:58pm

Normally I'd suspect Jerry Jones for manipulating things like this - but with Dallas' defense, the last thing he'd want is flagging contact. Their only chance is mugging the other team's receivers.