Yellow = Blue

November 5th, 2021

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Bruce Arians thought he had it all behind him.

He was wrong, so wrong.

The 2020 Bucs were on the proper side of the penalty ledger throughout most of the season, a contributing factor in their championship run. Including the playoffs, Tampa Bay was flagged 17 times less than the opposition, along with a plus-376 yard advantage in penalty markoffs.

That represented a major improvement from the previous year, when the Bucs finished 7-9 in Year 1 under Arians.

A familiar pregame sight often joked about at One Buc Palace. Refs cautioning center Ryan Jensen.

But starting with the 2021 season opener against Dallas, when the Bucs overcame 11 penalties, clamping down on discipline has emerged as a major priority once again. Another 11 flags were hurled in Tampa Bay’s direction on Sunday, generated from all angles.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

There were three flags for offensive holding and two for roughing the passer. Add in a defensive offside, a false start, a neutral zone infraction, a defensive holding, a taunting and a horse collar and you have the makings of a frustrating Sunday in the Superdome.

No wonder Arians began his postgame news conference by characterizing it as “an embarrassing display of football.”

Here comes the bye week, right on time.

League Leader

The numbers tell the tale of just how significant this penalty issue has become. The Bucs rank second to Philadelphia with 59 penalties and Tampa Bay’s 580 penalty yards are No. 1. This club has been flagged 28 more times than the opposition through eight weeks, creating a 275-yard gap that is short-circuiting Tampa Bay drives and extending drives for the opposition.

Consequently, the Bucs have registered 12 first downs by penalty to their opponents’ 22.

Although Tampa Bay was flagged only once in trouncing the Bears at home, Arians knew the Bucs were stepping up in class in the noisy Superdome against a regular-season nemesis.

“It’s time to clean it up,” Arians said last week. “You can’t go into a game against these guys and beat yourself.”

Poor discipline reflects poorly on a coaching staff that Arians is justifiably proud of. Ten of Sunday’s 11 penalties came courtesy of returning starters, so injuries are no excuse for a sloppy performance that drew New Orleans within a half-game of Tampa Bay.

“It’s definitely frustrating when we’re keeping their drives alive with penalties,” says Ndamukong Suh.

It’s worth noting that the 7-1 Rams have committed the fewest penalties for the fewest penalty yards in the league. Arians harps on minimizing pre-snap penalties, but the Bucs aren’t listening because Tampa Bay’s 23 pre-snap flags rank No. 1 while the Rams and Packers are last with 10 apiece.

Donovan Smith

For the season, Donovan Smith is the primary culprit by generating six penalties, including three false starts and two holds. Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis have each been flagged twice for pass interference.

Arians will spend a good part of the bye week trying to figure out how to get his message across to a talented roster that has turned careless far too often.

The 2020 Bucs averaged 5 penalties and 42.4 penalty yards en route to a championship. The 2021 Bucs are averaging 7.4 flags and 72.5 penalty yards.

That’s a big jump — or a big slide — depending on your point of view. What can’t be disputed is sloppy play can and will get you beat in this league.

At the moment, Buc fans have every right to feel downright blue about all that yellow.

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16 Responses to “Yellow = Blue”

  1. Bobby M. Says:

    For Smith…the false starts are terrible, other than that I’m okay with the holds and hands to face, he’s protecting the blind side for Brady….it happens.

    More concerned with the defense extending drives when we are getting to 3rd downs. those are really deflating. I think the situation in the secondary is getting other positions to press a bit, possibly play a bit less disciplined and it ends up making matters worse. JPP has been known to freelance….White as well….defense needs to get healthy and disciplined.

  2. Bradinator Says:

    After every great play, I’m looking for the flag that destroys it. I don’t believe I should have Flag Anxiety. Am I wrong?

  3. Hodad Says:

    Joe do you think now that the Bucs have the rep as the most penalized team, it causes the refs to throw even more flags their way? I mean yeah, the pre snap penalties need to be cleaned up, but some of the calls the Bucs have gotten this year have been pretty questionable also. I think the refs now have it in their heads that if they think they see something, yeah it’s the Bucs throw the flag.

  4. Mike C Says:

    The taunting penalty by 45 had me wanting to toss my TV out the damn door!

  5. Medicated Pete Says:

    Pete guarantees the team is tired of Devin White’s antics

  6. SlyPirate Says:

    Mike C … I agree. I can live with a false start on 3rd on Long. I can live with Ghoston’s bumping the QB. You’re going to get BS calls.

    Taunting is STUPID. Taunting is black and white. Don’t do anything directly towards the opponent. It’s easy. Yet, White’s selfish BS cost the team 15 yards!!!

  7. Beeej Says:

    I remember that hands-to-the-face they called on Smith, it was utter BS

  8. Guadalajara, Mexico Fan Says:

    If Gholston just would had stopped one step before hitting the QB with his chest, the play have finished as Interception by Winfield and 3 point haven’t been scored. At that point I was mad about all the flags. Hope all the players take their time to think about this frustrating situation.

  9. zzbuc Says:

    I think Gholston penalty was way wrong…..It should have been called holding against the OL…and also ilegal use of hands by the OL too…

    But I agree that the taunting penalty was one of silliest penalties ever on Bucs history…..#45 should make some kind of eastern meditation before every single game

  10. DoooshLaRue Says:

    I’ve been assured that my thinking is flawed and that Durable Donnie is a top tier talent.

    I’m just a clueless hater.
    Probably racist too, huh?


  11. gbobucsfan Says:

    Got into a heated argument with an Aint’s fan at the game over these penalties. Can’t believe they are only .5 game back and will prob lead the NFC South after Sunday. Let’s go Falcons?!?!?!?

  12. unbelievable Says:

    Well said Ira.

    Slop shall not be tolerated! Time to step up and do something about it BA!

    (Let’s be real, Brady is the one who will probably address it)

  13. Defense Rules Says:

    There’s an excellent site that details all the penalties by team. Doubt that the Bucs are being ‘singled out’ because we’ve had 8 different crews referee our 8 games thus far. And Medicated, White had an atrocious game penalty-wise against the Saints, but those 3 penalties are the only penalties he’s picked up this season, so there’s no real ‘trend’ there.

    Bucs now have 59 penalties for 580 yards, roughly 10 yds per penalty. That’s atrocious. The breakout by offense, defense, and STs though tells the story:

    o Offense: 21 penalties for 153 yds (7.3 yds/penalty avg)
    o Defense: 32 penalties for 377 yds (11.8 yds/penalty avg)
    o S/Ts: 6 penalties for 50 yds (8.3 yds/penalty avg)

    Donovan leads the offense with 6 penalties for 43 yds (the rest of the OLinemen have 6 penalties TOTAL for 50 yds). Bucs offense has been tagged for 11 false starts & 8 offensive holding for 134 yds lost … those are the 2 main culprits.

    Dean leads the defense with 4 penalties for 76 yds, followed by Davis with 4 penalties for 47 yds (both Dean & Davis have 2 DPI apiece that ran up their yardage). Bucs defense altogether has been tagged for 10 DPIs for a total of 204 yds lost … that’s the main culprit.

  14. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Donovan leads the offense with 6 penalties for 43 yds (the rest of the OLinemen have 6 penalties TOTAL for 50 yds).

    Donnie is an over-achiever…….always has been.

  15. Colonel Angus Says:

    I, too, suffer from flag anxiety. Good one Bradinator. The Rams having the fewest penalties tells me they are who the league wants in the Super Bowl. L.A. is the 2nd biggest TV market and would play in their own stadium, making it back to back home teams in the big game. I don’t think the games are necessarily rigged, but I believe the refs understand the wishes of their overlords. I joke, but not really. That Rams game and the Saints game definitely weren’t called evenly. Throw in the Cowboys game too. Bucs aren’t getting the benefit of doubt from the zebras this year. That’s why winning it all this year will be extra sweet.

  16. gp Says:

    I’m sorry, but there seems to be a trend of bad officiating adding to this trend of penalties.
    Holding is a penalty that can be called on almost every play in the NFL.
    Taunting is a judgement call based on the officials view of the situation.
    Pass interference is a clinical call that the officiating is very biased in calling, in my opinion.
    Can we clean this up?
    Yes, we can play cleaner football, but the refs “seem” to be just a little biased in their calls, and their bias is just about, almost, OK, Patently blatant.

    Why should I expect anything different…It’s a Buc”s Life!!!