Too Many Flags


Bryan Flynn

Friday night's game between the New Orleans Saints and Tennessee Titans became a flag fest. It seemed like neither team could run a play without a yellow flag littering the field. Because of all the flags, the game took forever to finish. Both teams finished with over 100 penalty yards. I began to wonder if this week had more flags than week one of the preseason.

There were 283 total accepted penalties over 16 games. Denver and Seattle led the way with 25 total penalties, and Green Bay and Tennessee were the lowest with 10 total penalties. Not counting Monday night's game, there were 311 total accepted penalties this week. Of course, the Saints and the Titans had the most penalties with 32 total penalties.

The Seahawks (eight) and the Chargers (seven) joined the Cowboys (nine) and Ravens (seven) as the only two games in which both teams had single-digit penalties. In week one, both teams had single-digit penalties over six games.

Seattle was the most penalized team last season with eight penalties per game. Indianapolis was the least penalized team with four penalties per game. The average was 6.08 penalties per game last season, which would be just 12 per game for both teams.

As the numbers show, penalties are up over last season for both weeks of the preseason. So is this a trend or a preseason anomaly?

Preseason games tend to get sloppy and are often filled with penalties. Players must adjust to new rules and the teams have a lot of new members in camp, which doesn't always translate to clean play. Officials also tend to call games much tighter in the preseason than the regular season. I tend to think penalties will go down when the regular season starts.

Pace of play is the biggest problem with all the penalties. The more penalties called, the longer games tend to stretch. Football games are already nearing three and half hours. Players could help things out by not committing as many penalties as well. Penalties are something to watch as the preseason goes to the final two weeks and the regular season starts.


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