Ravens Must Purge Penalties
Pop quiz: Where do the Ravens currently rank through 6 weeks in regards to accepted penalties against?
(hint: if you check out our Locked On Ravens podcast from earlier this week, you’d know!)
Answer: TIED FOR FIRST
The Ravens now sit with 52 penalties through 6 weeks, tied with the Oakland Raiders, and nearly a dozen flags above the league average of 40.8. In comparison, through 6 weeks last season, the Ravens had 45 penalties, and the season before, 29.
As Bad As It Looks? It’s WORSE.
If the projections hold steady, here’s what a full 16 game season would hold for Baltimore:
-139 total penalties
-1,075 penalty yards
-with the Ravens averaging just under 350 yards of offense per game, they’d b giving up essentially 3 games worth of offense on the season.
Since we’re already this far down the rabbit hole, let’s dig a little deeper into the doom & gloom, shall we?
(don’t worry, there’s some semblance of a silver lining to come!)
Taking a look at the penalty count by type, we can draw a few conclusions here.
First and foremost, there’s no real ‘sore thumb’ among the group. No player on the team has more than 4 penalties (Flacco) while THIRTY different players on the Ravens roster have committed at least one penalty.
The big standout infraction here is the Offense Holding penalty, where the Ravens currently boast the 2nd most of such penalties committed in the NFL.
Of the 15 holding penalties the most any individual player has is TWO. Overall, there’s been twelve different players who have committed an offensive hold. Mind you, a handful of them came via special teams, but the offensive line is clearly the most penalized with the holding. In fact, outside of John Urschel and Rick Wagner, every player who has taken a snap on the offensive line for the Ravens this season has committed an offensive hold (Stanley, Lewis, Zuttah, Yanda, Jensen, Hurst).
And unfortunately, the Offensive Holding isn’t the only penalty where the Ravens are leading the pack, as they currently rank top-3 (or bottom 3, essentially) in Delay of Game, Illegal Shift, Illegal Formation, and Catch Kick Interference. Notice how 4 of these 5 penalties come against the offense?
Demoralizing, isn’t it?
The (Dim) Light at the End of the Tunnel
But alas Ravens Flock! There is a silver lining!
Well, sort of.
As we’ve mentioned in previous weeks, the Ravens led the NFL last season in DPI’s & Unnecessary Roughness penalties (15 each). Through 6 weeks this season, they’ve committed just two of each infraction, which paces the team for just shy of 6 of each penalty in a 16 game season. A 9 penalty drop would be HUGE for this team, especially for the oft-criticized (and justifiably so) secondary (although perhaps the lack of DPI’s this season is from getting burnt like toast in recent weeks, but we’ll argue that another time).
Another positive note- the Ravens offensive line is getting healthier, and will continue to do so. Having the Week One line reunited will save the Ravens from the frivolous penalties on the insufficient backups, and hopefully the trickle down effect will take place (better offense, less holds on the entire offense, less delay of game penalties, etc.).
It All Comes Back to the Coaches
All of this said, we can’t simply ignore the fact that the entire team is lacking discipline. If thirty players on a 53 man roster (that’s 56.7% of the team) have committed infractions, then clearly the problem is with the team mentality, and not a few rotten apples among the bushel. And if the team cannot grasp the mental discipline, then the coaches deserve the criticism just as much, if not more than the players on the field.
Yes, it can be argued that ‘the coaches aren’t on the field drawing the penalties’ but in the bigger picture, if the coaches aren’t enforcing that extreme need for discipline, then how are things going to change for the better?
Now I’m no NFL level coach (except on Madden) but I’d hope that the Ravens would spend time focused directly on discipline. Discipline to not jump at the line on a hard count. Discipline to not line up in the neutral zone. Discipline to block without holding. Discipline to keep a cool head and not retaliate after the whistle. And it’s not out of line to think the Ravens can’t turn things around with that mentality and repetition- after all, if 30 other NFL teams can manage to have less flags thrown their way than Baltimore? There’s no reason for change to not happen.
Week 7 Opponent/Outlook
The turn around starts this week with the New York Jets, and the timing couldn’t have worked out any better.
While the Jets currently rank 19th in penalties this season (38), which sounds less than optimistic, their uptick in penalties last week (10 for 81 yards) should provide a glimmer into the Jets shortcomings this Sunday. Here’s the infraction breakdown:
A series with 3 Defensive Holds in less than 1 minute of game play (1 declined for 2 fouls on defense, but both resulted in 5 yards/automatic first down) should have new Ravens Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg salivating, especially seeing CB Buster Skrine with 4 penalties IN ONE GAME.
Overall on the Monday Night game, the Jets accumulated 4 defensive holds and 2 DPI’s and really screams red flags (or yellow, I suppose) for the Jets. The Ravens should take every opportunity to expose that secondary that currently ranks 29th against the pass, a la Torrey Smith during the Super Bowl run (who cares about the catches, just keep drawing penalties!). Obviously you don’t shy way from the run game, but Marty Mornhinweg should be looking to expose any hole in a defense, and this secondary, between the big plays they’ve given up and the penalties they accumulate, should look like a crater for this Ravens offense.
For once, the Ravens can become the aggressor and force miscues from their opponent, but it’s up to them to not make those same exact mistake of their own. Again.