The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had 123 penalties last season, which ranked fourth in the NFL, behind only the Raiders (of course), Seahawks and dirty, dirty Lions. For head coach Greg Schiano, that amount of penalties is — well, actually, it's just about right. Greg Schiano is the rare coach who embraces penalties.
Via Sports Radio Interviews, Schiano told WDAE in Tampa that he doesn't want his team to lead the league in penalties, but he doesn't want a bunch of penalty-free choir boys, either. Get out there, get dirty and draw some laundry, boys.
"It's a fine line between being a physical, aggressive football team and getting a flag. You gotta be careful. I don't ever want to be the least penalized team in the league, because I don't think you're trying hard enough then. But I certainly do want to be in the top 10. That's where you should be. You should be — five through 10 is a great place to be as a penalized team."
I'm not sure if Greg Schiano ranks No. 1 the most penalized team in the league, or No. 1 as the least penalized team in the league. In either case, he wants his Bucs out there picking up some penalty yardage.
So where's the best place to be? There were two teams last year tied with the least amount of penalties in the NFL with 76. One was the Indianapolis Colts, and no, you wouldn't want to be them. Their defense had all the aggression and physicality of the team horse dancing event at London 2012, and they went 2-14.
But the other was the Green Bay Packers, and it was pretty good to be them last year, right up until the NFC championship game. The Packers, with only 76 penalties, play some defense.
At five through 10 (Schiano's ideal range if he means that No. 5 is the fifth-most penalized team in the league) were, in order, the Dallas Cowboys (114), Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers (tied with 113), St. Louis Rams (112), Kansas City Chiefs (110), and Minnesota Vikings (109). Aside from the 49ers, it's not a particularly distinguished group.
Notably, the Packers, Patriots, Ravens, Falcons, Giants, Saints, Texans and Steelers all ranked in the bottom half of the league.
I understand Schiano's point, though, and I doubt that he's really going to chastise his team if it doesn't have enough penalties in Week 6. A defense that's aggressive and physical will occasionally pick up a penalty — that is a fact of life. You don't want to be the kind of namby-pamby team that never has a penalty.
There's not much evidence suggesting that a lot of penalties are beneficial, though. The best strategy is probably to get good at getting away at cheating. Failing that, though, you'll probably just want to play clean, hard-nosed physical football and live with the consequences of that.
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