Flag these guys down when there's a penalty on the play
Who are the most penalized players in the NFL? With the help of ESPN researchers, Mike Sando starts naming names of the players who fill the laundry baskets -- and even some of those who don't.
The Giants' front five has committed only five false-start penalties all season, helping New York get a jump on most of the NFC. Speaking of getting jumps -- no teams get more of them than the Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams.
10 most penalized players, 2004-07
That's the word from ESPN researchers Noel Nash, Matthew Weeks, Ben Lerner and Paul McGhee. They crunched league-wide penalty totals since 2004, providing enough data to identify trends without reaching beyond average career lengths. They broke down penalties by type and even situation, singling out offenders most likely to hurt their teams in the fourth quarters of close games.We break down the highlights -- or lowlights, as they might be -- halfway through the NFL season.
1. Habitual offendersOffensive linemen tend to play nearly all the snaps. Most need to get off the ball ASAP to handle superior athletes on opposing defenses. They would rather risk holding than allow their quarterbacks to take direct shots. But some of these guys can't function within the rules. Eleven of the 15 most-penalized players since 2004 are offensive linemen. Oakland's Gallery was the second player chosen in the 2004 draft, but he ranks first on the list of the most-penalized players over the past 3½ seasons. Gallery also makes his penalties count. He's the only player with more than 300 penalty yards, although a couple of defensive backs came close.
Most penalized players 2007 only
Green Bay's Woodson (12) and Al Harris (seven) lead all cornerbacks in penalties this season. The San Diego Chargers' Quentin Jammer leads all corners with 33 penalties since 2004, tied with Houston Texans guard Chester Pitts and Miami Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor for the eighth-most penalties in the league, regardless of position.The Packers are setting a dubious standard for defensive backfields. Woodson has 31 penalties since 2004, second-most among corners. Former teammate Ahmad Carroll somehow ranks third with 30 penalties -- even though he's out of the league. This leads us to the Tennessee Titans' Pacman Jones and Arizona Cardinals' Antrel Rolle. Both entered the NFL in 2005. Jones hasn't played this season, while Rolle lost his starting job. No matter. Jones ranks 12th among defensive backs with 21 penalties since 2004, one more than Rolle. Carson Palmer's 24 penalties lead quarterbacks since 2004. David Carr (23), Kerry Collins (23) and Steve McNair (21) are the only others with more than 17. Peyton Manning (14) and Tom Brady (12) have the 11th- and 17th-most penalties, respectively, among quarterbacks during that span.
2. Getting personal
The Cardinals weren't happy when officials hit safety Adrian Wilson with a personal-foul penalty following a collision with Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap. The call appeared questionable upon review, but Wilson's reputation might have contributed to the ruling.Wilson leads the NFL with a dozen personal-foul penalties since 2004. That includes a league-high five fouls for unnecessary roughness and four more for grabbing facemasks. Only the Philadelphia Eagles' Omar Gaither has as many 15-yard facemask penalties during that stretch. Wilson has three more personal-foul penalties for roughing the passer, pushing him past Washington safety Sean Taylor, who has 11, for the league lead.
Most personal fouls since 2004
|Kyle Vanden Bosch||8|
3. Good guys
The best players shouldn't need to bend the rules. The crafty ones know how to avoid detection.Perennial All-Pro guards Will Shields and Steve Hutchinson each had only two penalties from 2004 through last season, despite ranking first and fourth, respectively, in snaps played by offensive linemen. Hutchinson has zero penalties this season. Shields retired in April.
Cornerbacks always will rank among the most-penalized players. It's the nature of the position, particularly with the league eager to facilitate passing.Most corners with extensive playing time since 2004 are well into double-digit penalties, but a few have managed to do their job without attracting much heat. The short list includes Buffalo's Terrence McGee (seven), Miami's Renaldo Hill (seven), New England's Asante Samuel (eight), Minnesota's Antoine Winfield (nine) and Denver's Champ Bailey (10).
With so much scrutiny on the St. Louis line, officials have flagged Rams quarterback Marc Bulger only five times, fewest among regular starters at the position. Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger drew only six.
4. Setting the pace in 2007Woodson, Sims, Gallery and Taylor already have hit double digits in penalties this season. Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens (eight), Cleveland Browns tight end Kellen Winslow (seven) and Cardinals tight end Leonard Pope (seven) jump out from a list heavy on linemen and cornerbacks. No other receivers or tight ends have more than five penalties. Chad Pennington lost his job as the New York Jets' starting quarterback, but he remains the most-penalized quarterback this season. He has nine touchdowns and six penalties. Woodson and Harris aren't the only repeat offenders in Green Bay's secondary. Safety Atari Bigby drew two of his five penalties during Denver's opening drive on Monday night two weeks ago. Woodson, Harris and Bigby have 24 penalties in eight games. Five players have three personal fouls this season: Philadelphia's Gaither, Arizona's Wilson, Miami's Taylor, Tennessee's Odom and the Giants' Antonio Pierce. Miami's Jay Feely gets special commendation as the only kicker penalized for unnecessary roughness. He took out Browns return man Joshua Cribbs with a hit out of bounds.
5. On the line
Seattle and San Diego own the least-penalized offensive lines since 2004, with 86 penalties apiece. The Steelers, Jets and Patriots aren't far behind, ranging from 90 to 92. Those teams claimed nine division titles over the past three seasons.Winning teams face fewer obvious passing situations, cutting down on holding penalties, but there's more at work here. Buffalo hasn't won as much in recent seasons, but the Bills' line has the sixth-fewest penalties since 2004. Discipline counts for something.
Most penalized O-lines 2004-07
The Rams' line has racked up 1,055 yards in penalties since 2004, more than doubling the division-rival Seahawks in total penalties (177 to 86) and yardage (1,055 to 479). The Rams' 113 false starts were 36 more than runnerup Detroit and nearly triple Seattle's league-low 35.
6. The anti-clutch
There's nothing quite like a boneheaded procedural penalty to doom your team during the fourth quarter of a close game.Gallery saved 15 of his league-high 46 penalties since 2004 for the final quarters of games with a score differential of seven or fewer points. Barron (11), Dallas tackle Flozell Adams (10) and Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister (10) also made the list, no surprise given their broader tendencies.
Most penalties in 'clutch time' 2004-07
7. D'oh Awards
Since 2004, Green Bay's defense leads the league with nine penalties for 12 men on the field. Oakland (eight), New Orleans (seven), Miami (six) and Seattle (six) also have more than five. Washington, Atlanta and the Giants have been busted only once, fewest in the league.Denver and San Francisco have four such penalties since 2006.
Darrell Jackson hasn't done much in his first season with the 49ers, but he leads NFL receivers with five false-start penalties since 2006. Matt Jones has scarcely played for Jacksonville, but he has four, tied with Randy Moss for second in the league among receivers.Moss has 12 false-start penalties since 2004, more than any other receiver. Coaches cringe when their players run into opposing kickers, turning fourth downs into first downs. Atlanta's Demorrio Williams and San Francisco's Brandon Moore and Keith Lewis are the only NFL players with two such penalties since 2004. All are still employed.
Roethlisberger has zero penalties during the fourth quarters of games when the point differential was seven points or fewer. Bulger (two) and Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb (two) also fall well down the list. Collins, Carr (eight), Palmer (seven) and Aaron Brooks (seven) have been most likely among quarterbacks to draw penalties during crunch time.
All-Flag TeamPlayers with most penalties at their positions since 2004. Players with fewer than 20 penalties are not ranked among league leaders:
|CB||Ahmad Carroll||Former Packer||30||17th|
MORE NFL HEADLINES
- Chiefs sign Charles to contract extension
- Broncos' Bowlen has Alzheimer's, steps down
- Davis ends holdout, reports to 49ers camp
- Suggs wants Flacco to be more vocal leader