Penalty Numbers courtesy of: NFL Penalties.com
One of the biggest problems the Redskins need to fix heading into this season is their high number of penalties. Last season the Redskins committed 131 penalties (including the postseason), of which 12 were either declined or offset by the other team. Their total number was 119, which ranked 5th in both total penalties and penalties per game. All told the Redskins 119 penalties cost them 1,000 yards (4th worst number in the league). This is an area that has to be addressed this season as they simply can’t shoot themselves in the foot that often and be expected to consistently win football games.
Now some people will say that teams like Baltimore, Green Bay, Seattle, Denver, San Francisco and Houston also committed quite a few penalties and had success. The problem is that off those teams only Baltimore committed more penalties per game than the Redskins. Also, not all penalties are equal, as yardage is very important. Of those teams only Baltimore committed more penalty yards per game (49ers had more total yards and penalties, but over more games).
Another factor to consider is the plus/minus of the yards you give up versus the free yards given to you when other team’s commit infractions. For the Redskins they gave up 1,000 yards and got 846 yards back. That is a 144 yards to the negative for the Redskins. The totals of the other 11 playoff teams are:
Of the 11 other playoff teams just two had more of a negative net loss of yards than the Redskins. And the two other teams in the red, were so by less than 75 yards (basically half of what the Redskins were penalized). Of the 12 playoff teams seven finished to the good with four getting over 100+ free yards essentially.
What’s perhaps most troubling for the Redskins is the fact that their stronger unit the offense was the culprit of the majority of these penalties 70-49. The 70 penalties against the Redskins offense was tied for 3rd worst in the league, and the 2nd highest yardage total (highest though on a per game basis). On the flip side the defense was tied for 15th highest in total penalties (tied for 21st per game) and 21st in defensive penalty yards.
Some of the biggest penalties that consistently gave the Redskins problems were the following:
False Start: 27 total, league average 19.28
Offensive Holding: 21, league average 20.06
Defensive Pass Interference: 9, league average 7.91
Defensive Offsides: 7, league average 5.69
Personal Foul: 6, league average 2.59
Illegal Block Above the Waist: 5, league average 3.5
Unsportsmanlike: 4, league average 1.5
Intentional Grounding: 4, league average 0.94
Obviously there were quite a few additional penalties out there, but these were among the highest totals and all were above league average and categories the Redskins struggled in. A couple of things really stand out. The 10 combined personal fouls and Unsportsmanlike penalties are simply unacceptable. Not only is the league average for those combined to be just over 4, but they accounted for 150 total yards. That is a significant amount, particularly for a penalty where you typically have a lot of control over. Also the number of false starts and offsides penalties have to drive coaches nuts. There is no reason for the Redskins to be that undisciplined, and that is way too many free yards, (or in the case of offsides free plays). Finally, it is clear that there are some serious issues with the offensive line (and blocking in general). Not every false start or hold was their fault, but many of them were. Also, the four intentional grounding penalties are on the line as well. If he wasn’t under pressure Robert Griffin III wouldn’t be committing those penalties.