Be Prepared For Flags

February 1st, 2016
Coaching changes don't always mean less penalties.

Coaching changes don’t immediately mean less penalties.

Really, really interesting article and even better research about the Bucs and penalties. In so many words, fans should not blindly believe the team’s flag-ridden ways will vanish without Lovie Smith on the sidelines.

Thomas Bassinger of the Tampa Bay Times performed serious research and found that just because there is a coaching change and a new coach proclaims penalties will decrease does not make it so.

And guess who was a point of reference to determine this information? None other than the Bucs themselves.

Bassinger pounded the keyboard and crunched numbers and found that, often, teams’ penalties stay somewhat consistent, even with a coaching change. Take the Bucs this decade, please.

On offense, the expectation heading into the 2015 season was that Koetter would stabilize an offense that was an unmitigated disaster in 2014. Quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo was thrust into playcalling. Anthony Collins was less effective at left tackle than a turnstile. Josh McCown threw more interceptions than touchdown passes. It couldn’t get any worse.

But one thing did: The Bucs committed more penalties — the most in team history, in fact. Even though Koetter’s offense collected more infractions in 2015 (73) than it did in 2014 (67) and more than the defense (53), many would say that the team’s overall lack of discipline ultimately fell on head coach Lovie Smith. And on Jan. 6 — three days after the regular season ended — Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer called Smith and told him he wanted to move in another direction. About a week later, the team announced it was promoting Koetter to replace him.

The conventional wisdom is that the Bucs will be a more disciplined team under Koetter. They might … or they might not. When the team fired the lax Raheem Morris after a 4-12 campaign in 2011 and hired the authoritarian Greg Schiano, it worked — for a season. In 2012 under Schiano, offensive penalties fell from 56 to 47, but in 2013, they surged to 61.

You know what this tells Joe? Initially, you can’t coach the dumb out of players. Either they get it or they don’t. Common sense backs up Bassinger’s findings. The Bucs last year committed penalties so stupid Pop Warner players know better than to commit.

It will be very interesting to see how or if the Bucs are able to put a dent in their massive amount of flags. If the Bucs are a highly-penalized team again, it will reinforce Bassinger’s findings, that coaches aren’t always able to control how disciplined players are on the field.

24 Responses to “Be Prepared For Flags”

  1. lurker Says:

    More stats…

  2. tdtb2015 Says:

    Fine them up their butt$$$$$$!!!!!

    Hit every player that commits a penalty with a fine. $100,000 and up

    Maybe this is what Mike Smith did when Atlanta had the record in the of least penalize team in NFL history back in 2010 and then 2012.

    Dumb penalties will result on a hefty direct deposit to the charity of Koetter’s liking.

    As Simple As That $$$$$

  3. tdtb2015 Says:

    ^in the league

  4. tdtb2015 Says:

    The new in house rule:

    When you see yellow I see green $$$$$$

  5. Warren Says:

    I’d be more interested to see some kind of analysis into one sided calls or non-calls that always seem to benefit big market teams. Yeah I’m a little bit of a conspiracy theorist at heart, but we all bitch and moan about it during the games then put these blatantly bad calls on the coaches and players when they have at times cost us games indirectly.

  6. James Walker Says:

    Yup, it is not the always the penalties called on the Bucs, it is more often the non-calls on the big named teams. Like Howie Long’s kid who dove right at the knees of our RT right in front of the ref.

  7. Dreambig Says:

    This is exactly what I posted a week or two back. The top 3 out of 4 most penalized Bucs were on offense. An area that already was fully under Koetters control. Lovie was responsible for that in the manner that “your the head coach and therefore, accountable for the performance of coaches under you”. Unless Lovie was preventing Koetter from taking corrective action, the Offenses lack of discipline is on Koetter. Not to say he can’t work on it and fix it, but let’s be real and recognize that area of under performance is on him. Having said all that, Koetter has acknowledged it was a problem and said it will be a focus this off season.

  8. Dreambig Says:

    Mike Evans, 2nd most penalized Buc. Think about that one. That means offensive pass interference and personal fouls. That points to a player out of control and needed some serious coaching. Maybe the new WR coach can help fix that. Anybody see any drops from the probowl WRs last night? Winston looks scary dangerous with fast receivers who can catch.

  9. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Did you notice last night that Jameis was able to draw GMC offsides?

    Our penalties were very wide-spread….but GMC/offsides & Gholston/Personal Fouls….come to mind as being multiple.

  10. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    As I’ve said a million times (exaggeration obviously), the Refs have it in for the Buccaneers. It comes from having players that habitually drew flags in the past.

    Walker was a flag magnet. Talib actually got in Refs faces. Perhaps the biggest magnet was Dashon Goldson. A week before coming to the Bucs, he said in a televised interview that the Refs should keep their flags ready, because he wasn’t changing the way he played.

    He dared them to flag him.

    You think Refs didn’t see that interview? It put a target on his back…and on the back of whatever team he played for.

    Turned out to be us…the same “us” who had already been targeted by the Refs for other reasons.

    The stigma can only be removed by the team players playing perfectly. The refs are not going to go easy on us like they do for the Seahawks, Panthers, Saints or pretty much any other team.

    All of it is tainted by Refs being fans themselves, either of teams or of individuals. The stigma of the Dungy firing, for example, tainted us. (even though I personally saw nothing wrong with the media hyped method used).

    And finally…officials are crooked. Their jobs are to keep the game fair, not effect the outcome of games. Their noncalls on opposing teams do that.

    Several times I saw blatant noncalls this year. In at least one case, I saw an opposing player tackle one of our players to keep him from reaching a runner. Clearly, this is the worst kind of holding. A ref was right next to them, facing the infraction. Looking at it.

    No call.

  11. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Tampabaybucfan Says
    “Our penalties were very wide-spread….but GMC/offside…”

    That’s normal stuff. McCoy comes off the line quickly. Off sides can be par for the course at times. He doesn’t do it that often though. Maybe 5 times a year?

  12. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    I think BucBonzai and Warren make good points.

    I would not go so far as to say the refs have it in for us..perhaps ME because of his repeated petulance…but it’s the same in all sports. Teams get a reputation.

    I don’t believe the refs have it in for us, or that there is a conspiracy, but the are well aware of our undisciplined ways and so they “see” our penalities more readily than other teams.

    As for the offensive penalties…how many were called on ME and Donovan Smith?

    If we subtract their penalties what do the numbers look like? We’ve talked about ME but Smith has a legitimate excuse…he was a rookie breaking in at the one of the toughest positions in the league. He had to worry about speed rushers getting outside of him and probably tried to get a head start a little too often. That will improve with experience.

  13. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    BTW…Re D. Smith…Would you rather Smith get an offsides penalty protecting #3’s blindside or let #3 take a clean shot?

  14. Dreambig Says:

    St Pete, good point, not all penalties are equal. There is a site that shows all penalties by team and player. A few things jump out from that site, the Bucs got fewer penalties as the year progressed and 5 of Mike Evans 10 penalties were for Offensive pass interference, one for block below the waist, one holding and only a few of the unsportsman like conduct variety. So for all of you who hate stats, I just proved two of my prior assumptions were not quite accurate. One, as the penalties declined through the year, the coaching was having an impact, and Mike Evans was not as out of control as I thought, might just have bad technique seperating from defenders (the eye test tells you its a little more).

  15. StPeteBucsFan Says:


    Thanks for the perspective…especially the decrease in penalities as the season went on. It is a young team so perhaps they are learning. Gives us reason for hope going forward.

  16. LargoBuc Says:

    Its not the no calls that bother me. But its wether or not they are calling it the same for both teams. Kind if like an umpire calling ball for the Red Sox batters when the pitch is inside and down, but the same location is a strike for Ray’s batters. Its not right. Like if your going to call holding every third play for one team, well really you better do it for the other team too, because there is holding on every play. It just depends on if the ref “see’s” it.
    But I noticed it wasnt just the Bucs getting flagged. It was multiple teams. But man, that game in Philly, the refs were doing as much as they could to not let the Eagles loose to us in their house. Its just a shame we’re having this convo. Every week the refs are blowing it. If they hadn’t let Seattle win woth that ball bouncing out of the endzone, who knows. But Seattle making the playoffs is good business for the league, as opposed to Detroit winning, on national tv.

  17. pick6 Says:

    the best teams are thinking about this stuff when they scout a guy. the patriots probably take a dim view of players with a track record of selfish penalties, and they can tolerate a couple of bad eggs because the locker room is designed to keep them in check. other teams, like the Bengals (or most college powerhouses), will decide they can tolerate talented knuckleheads in hopes that the talent outweighs the lack of discipline\professionalism.

  18. Bucsfanman Says:

    Coaches coach and players play. It is not always on coaching and the players have to be held accountable.
    Not for nothing but Lovie got too much blame for this in my opinion. Penalties cost us a lot of games last year. We’ve got to clean it up.
    As to the conspiracies, when you have a reputation a la Mike Evans you are not going to get the benefit of the doubt. Which, of course, is exhibit ‘A’ of “SHUT UP AND PLAY FOOTBALL!”

  19. DB55 Says:

    According to bspn McCoy jumped only 4 times. Had a total of 5 penalties including a roughing the passer call. Still 4 times is too many especially when you’re a captain AND you line up DIRECTLY over the ball.

    C’mon shun get it together.

  20. Buccaneers Says:

    The pentaltys in the NFL, in general, have spun completely out of control. Every single time a big play is made…..and I mean every time…… Tell me you don’t cringe and look for the yellow marker in the corner of the screen. Offiacating of games has murdered the excitement of the NFL.

    Pentaltys have completely deteriorated and tainted the games for me…… Outside of the home team I basically view the NFL as unwatchable if I start seeing flags come out play after play………. I don’t care about fantasty football at that point, I’ll check it in the morning. I have better thing to do then watch referees decide where the ball needs to be moved to on every drive.

    And it’s a shame because she I see a good ga!e with only legit pentaltys being called I really enjoy it. Awful these games are few and far between. I guess the NGL doesn’t care because the rating continue to climb……..or maybe I’m in the wrong and just don’t understand the thrill of a pentalaty…….. All I know is the only logical reasoning that makes any sense to me is that some of these games are fixed.

  21. Buccaneers Says:

    The absolute worst joke of an NFL ga!e I have ever witnessed was Tampa/Washington. Nobody on this earth can ever convince me that the players had more to do with the outcome then the refs did. The referees basically moved the ball up and down the field. They systematically placed the ball however they saw fit. At one point Washington got nine plays after gaining 1st and goal witgh out a true pentalty being committed.

    I recorded and researched that game. I rewound every pentaltys that was called on both sides and watched each one at least 3 times……. It was an absolute disgrace. 90% of the calls were a complete fabrication of the rules. After that game I paid more close attention in other games and saw much of the same……..just not as many. And I am not just talking about the Bucs. We have been the beneficiary of many phantom flags.

    The game is just a garbage product anymore IMO…….. Sadly, I really don’t even care too much to view the Super Bowl. I remember being excited for two full weeks leading up to the Big Game!! I sure wish Spring Training opened Sunday cause that’s where I would be.

  22. Trubucfan22 Says:

    Penalties were a problem on offense, but the offense overcame a lot of those penalties. Were able to get first downs despite 1st and 20. The defense giving up 15 yard penalties were back breakers. Like LVD said in the first game. That first penalty deflated the entire defense. Impacted how they played and coukd not overcome it.

    It’s not so much about getting flagged, it’s about overcoming the hole they put you in. The offense (mostly) overcame them. The defense did not. Not to mention it was a new offense with a bunch if rookies. things should improve next season just from natural growth and experience. Focusing on it during TC will only add to helping prevent them.

  23. Wesley Says:

    The refs are too involved in todays game. I miss old school football where the ground can’t cause a fumble and a catch was control with two feet in bounds. We all know a catch when we see one, it’s not that freaking difficult to determine. Today’s ref’s and their ridiculous guidelines ruin the game, and often the outcome.

  24. godzilla13 Says:

    I agree with what Warren Says, I would like to see an analysis on penalties called against the Buccaneers compared to penalties called against big market teams? It is obvious something is going on. Coaches need to teach players how to play without committing penalties, inform players on referees tendencies and have accountability/peer pressure with the players. Practice it, preach it, live it.