FanPost

A Ninja Goro Analysis : Defensive Penalties  (long)

On Monday, the Dennis Allen era officially began as he and his coaching staff had their first official work-day with the team and for 9 weeks Allen et al are going to begin installing the offensive and defensive systems and instilling in the men what the New-Era "Raider Way" will be. Now, you know what the very first order of business is going to be? The same thing EVERY Raider coach has said it will be in the past : correct the penalty problem.

You've heard it before in various forms and various ways. "We're going to get rid of the stupid penalties without losing our aggressiveness." "We have to fix the penalties." "We're going to be more disciplined." And that culminated in what? 2011 was historic, setting an all-time NFL record in both number of penalties and penalty yardage. Wow.

But there's always been an underlying, tacit (and sometimes not so tacit) thought that perhaps some of those penalties actually HELP the Raiders. "We're the Raiders, man. We do what we want. We intimidate." etc etc. But, really that era is long gone. The other quite vocalized commentary is that the NFL is explicitly picking on the Raiders. It's hard to be definitive about that, but i will say, It certainly FEELS that way sometimes.

Penalties are expensive. We know that. They can alter games. We've seen that. But how much do they affect a team? Can we track penalties across a season, looking for patterns and then extrapolate some data and come to some conclusions? I think we can and it should be an interesting little exercise especially considering 2011 is an All-Time "Great" year!

Let me preface this analysis by stating up-front that the results I'll be presenting are not meant to indicate what WOULD have happened, but rather to give an insight into the level to which the penalties have affected the defense. There are many factors that go into causality when penalties are involved and those are discounted when simple extrapolations are involved. That's understood. Still, I believe when we look at these numbers and see the drastic results in place, we get a more palpable feel for what penalties (and especially the penalty level of the 2011 Raiders) can do to a team.

My process was an involved one and admittedly a bit insane. I went back thru all 16 games of the 2011 season and tracked each penalty (while I logged and tracked both accepted and declined, mostly focusing on accepted penalties). I then organized them and analyzed them, in a sorted fashion and then in a more aggregate fashion. By looking at itemized penalties, you get a feel for who, what, when. By aggregating, you get a larger-scale view (with the accompanying loss of specifics and precision).

Disclaimer : I did as much sanity checking as I was willing to do, but I'm sure that there are a couple of mistakes here or there (I have actually found a couple here and there and corrected them). So while it shouldn't be taken as definitive, I believe it to be pretty close.

Anyway, here are the numbers. The full analysis is on my blog in two separate posts [general penalties link ] [defensive link] but I'll present the major points here:

Penalty Count By Game:

Week Opponent Penalties Yardage
1 Broncos 15 131
2 Bills 8 85
3 Jets 7 55
4 Patriots 9 85
5 Texans 11 89
6 Browns 5 35
7 Chiefs 14 120
9 Broncos 15 130
10 Chargers 7 45
11 Vikings 12 117
12 Bears 6 44
13 Dolphins 10 91
14 Packers 11 89
15 Lions 10 86
16 Chiefs 15 92
17 Chargers 8 64

Penalty Count by Player :

Player Penalties Yardage
Routt, Stanford 17 167
Seymour, Richard 11 95
Veldheer, Jared 11 89
Barnes, Khalif 11 70
Kelly, Tommy 7 45
Houston, Lamar 7 43
Lechler, Shane* 6* 30*
Curry, Aaron 5 65
Van Dyke, Demarcus 5 54
Satele, Samson 5 47
Wisniewski, Stefen 5 45
Mitchell, Mike 4 50
Johnson, Chris 4 40
Jones, Taiwan 4 35
Bryant, Desmond 3 35
Carlisle, Cooper 3 35
McClain, Rolando 3 25
Wimbley, Kamerion 3 25
Blackstock, Daryl 3 23
Palmer, Carson 3 20
Sheppard, Lito 3 17
Boss, Kevin 3 15
Heyer, Stephon 3 15
Branch, Tyvon 2 27
Groves, Quentin 2 20
Moss, Jarvis 2 20
Gordon, Richard 2 15
Myers, Brandon 2 15
Boyd, Jerome 2 10
Ford, Jacoby 2 10
Porter, Joe 2 10
Giordano, Matt 1 15
Huff, Michael 1 15
Jackson, Hue 1 15
Shaughnessy, Matt 1 15
Hagan, Derek 1 10
Heyward-Bey, Darius 1 10
Schilens, Chaz 1 10
Cartwright, Rock 1 6
Ausberry, David 1 5
Chekwa, Chimdi 1 5
Defense, Raiders 1 5
McFadden, Darren 1 5
Moore, Denarius 1 5
Murphy, Louis 1 5
Offense, Raiders 1 5
Pryor, Terrelle 1 5
Scott, Trevor 1 5
Tonga, Manase 1 5

*5 of Shane Lechler's delay of games penalties were intentional

Penalty Count By Penalty :

General Penalty Type :

Penalty Type Penalties Yardage
Blocking 7 59
Coaching 4 30
Defensive Backfield 32 291
Formation 5 25
Holding 31 277
Personal Foul 26 372
Pre-Snap 53 259
QB 1 10
Special Teams 2 20
WR 2 15


62 "Stupid Penalties" : 4 Coaching penalties, 5 Formation penalties, and 53 Presnap penalties (10 Delay of Game, 19 false starts, 24 offsides) for a total of 314 yards (excluding Lechler's 5 intentional Delays brings it down to 289 yards).

At least half of the Personal fouls (and probably more) are also of the stupid variety. That's about 75 for 500 yards of totally avoidable, useless penalties that really should be cleaned up. Penalties that Dennis Allen et al need to clean up. Obviously you don't want the other stuff, like the 38 penalties for Holding or Illegal Blocking, but that happens. The 32 defensive backfield penalties are brutal, but that's secondary (pun) to the nonsense penalties.
Individual Penalties:

Penalty Type Penalty Penalties Yardage
Blocking Clipping 1 4
Blocking Illegal Block 3 30
Blocking Illegal Chop Block 1 15
Blocking Ineligible Downfield 2 10
Coaching 12 Men on the Field 2 10
Coaching Challenging Unchallengeable Play 1 15
Coaching Illegal Substitution 1 5
Defensive Backfield Defensive Holding 12 59
Defensive Backfield Illegal Contact 6 30
Defensive Backfield Illegal Use of Hands 2 15
Defensive Backfield Pass interference (Defense) 12 187
Formation Illegal Formation 3 15
Formation Illegal Motion 1 5
Formation Illegal Procedure 1 5
Holding Offensive Holding 31 277
Personal Foul Face Mask 4 57
Personal Foul Personal Foul 6 80
Personal Foul Roughing the Passer 5 75
Personal Foul Throwing a Left Jab 1 10
Personal Foul Unnecessary Roughness 8 120
Personal Foul Unsportsmanlike Conduct 2 30
Pre-Snap Delay of Game 10 50
Pre-Snap False Start 19 95
Pre-Snap Offsides 24 114
QB Illegal Grounding 1 10
Kicking Roughing the Kicker 1 15
Kicking Running into the Kicker 1 5
WR Illegal Touching 1 5
WR Pass Interference (Offense) 1 10



Penalty Count By Player And Penalty (detail) :

Player PenaltyName Penalties Yardage
Ausberry, David Illegal Touching 1 5
Barnes, Khalif False Start 6 30
Barnes, Khalif Illegal Formation 1 5
Barnes, Khalif Illegal Substitution 1 5
Barnes, Khalif Offensive Holding 3 30
Blackstock, Daryl Illegal Block 1 10
Blackstock, Daryl Offensive Holding 1 8
Blackstock, Daryl Running into the Kicker 1 5
Boss, Kevin False Start 3 15
Boyd, Jerome Defensive Holding 1 5
Boyd, Jerome Personal Foul 1 5
Branch, Tyvon Face Mask 1 12
Branch, Tyvon Unnecessary Roughness 1 15
Bryant, Desmond Offsides 1 5
Bryant, Desmond Unnecessary Roughness 2 30
Carlisle, Cooper Illegal Chop Block 1 15
Carlisle, Cooper Offensive Holding 2 20
Cartwright, Rock Offensive Holding 1 6
Chekwa, Chimdi Illegal Contact 1 5
Curry, Aaron Offsides 1 5
Curry, Aaron Personal Foul 1 15
Curry, Aaron Unnecessary Roughness 2 30
Curry, Aaron Unsportsmanlike Conduct 1 15
Defense, Raiders 12 Men on the Field 1 5
Ford, Jacoby False Start 2 10
Giordano, Matt Personal Foul 1 15
Gordon, Richard Ineligible Downfield 1 5
Gordon, Richard Offensive Holding 1 10
Groves, Quentin Offsides 1 5
Groves, Quentin Roughing the Passer 1 15
Hagan, Derek Offensive Holding 1 10
Heyer, Stephon False Start 2 10
Heyer, Stephon Illegal Formation 1 5
Heyward-Bey, Darius Offensive Holding 1 10
Houston, Lamar Clipping 1 4
Houston, Lamar Delay of Game 1 5
Houston, Lamar Offensive Holding 1 5
Houston, Lamar Offsides 3 14
Houston, Lamar Personal Foul 1 15
Huff, Michael Face Mask 1 15
Jackson, Hue Challenging Unchallengeable Play 1 15
Johnson, Chris Defensive Holding 1 4
Johnson, Chris Illegal Contact 1 5
Johnson, Chris Pass interference (Defense) 2 31
Jones, Taiwan Illegal Motion 1 5
Jones, Taiwan Offensive Holding 1 10
Jones, Taiwan Offsides 1 5
Jones, Taiwan Roughing the Kicker 1 15
Kelly, Tommy Offsides 6 30
Kelly, Tommy Roughing the Passer 1 15
Lechler, Shane Delay of Game 6 30
McClain, Rolando Illegal Contact 2 10
McClain, Rolando Unnecessary Roughness 1 15
McFadden, Darren False Start 1 5
Mitchell, Mike Defensive Holding 1 5
Mitchell, Mike Defensive Holding 1 5
Mitchell, Mike Pass interference (Defense) 1 25
Mitchell, Mike Unnecessary Roughness 1 15
Moore, Denarius Illegal Formation 1 5
Moss, Jarvis Offsides 1 5
Moss, Jarvis Roughing the Passer 1 15
Murphy, Louis Delay of Game 1 5
Myers, Brandon Offensive Holding 1 10
Myers, Brandon Offsides 1 5
Offense, Raiders 12 Men on the Field 1 5
Palmer, Carson Delay of Game 2 10
Palmer, Carson Illegal Grounding 1 10
Porter, Joe Illegal Procedure 1 5
Porter, Joe Offsides 1 5
Pryor, Terrelle False Start 1 5
Routt, Stanford Defensive Holding 8 40
Routt, Stanford Illegal Use of Hands 1 5
Routt, Stanford Pass interference (Defense) 7 107
Routt, Stanford Personal Foul 1 15
Satele, Samson Illegal Use of Hands 1 10
Satele, Samson Offensive Holding 4 37
Schilens, Chaz Pass Interference (Offense) 1 10
Scott, Trevor Offsides 1 5
Seymour, Richard Face Mask 2 30
Seymour, Richard Offsides 6 25
Seymour, Richard Roughing the Passer 1 15
Seymour, Richard Throwing a Left Jab 1 10
Seymour, Richard Unnecessary Roughness 1 15
Shaughnessy, Matt Roughing the Passer 1 15
Sheppard, Lito Illegal Contact 2 10
Sheppard, Lito Pass interference (Defense) 1 7
Tonga, Manase False Start 1 5
Van Dyke, Demarcus Illegal Block 1 10
Van Dyke, Demarcus Offensive Holding 2 12
Van Dyke, Demarcus Pass interference (Defense) 1 17
Van Dyke, Demarcus Unsportsmanlike Conduct 1 15
Veldheer, Jared False Start 2 10
Veldheer, Jared Illegal Block 1 10
Veldheer, Jared Ineligible Downfield 1 5
Veldheer, Jared Offensive Holding 7 64
Wimbley, Kamerion Defensive Holding 1 5
Wimbley, Kamerion Offsides 1 5
Wimbley, Kamerion Personal Foul 1 15
Wisniewski, Stefen False Start 1 5
Wisniewski, Stefen Offensive Holding 4 40



Those are the are the raw numbers for the Penalties (as I counted them) from the 2011 season.
Now here's a look at the Defensive Side of the ball and some of the implications therein.
Results of Drives with at least one Penalty:

Drive Results With at least 1 Penalty:

Result of Drive Number of Drives Percentage
Touchdown 24 41%
Field Goal Attempt 14 24%
Punt 11 19%
Interception 6 10%
Over on Downs 2 3%
Fumble 1 2%
End of Half 1 2%

These are the drives where the Raiders are on defense and the defense commits at least one accepted penalty. So, 24 drives with a penalty resulted in a TD for a 41% rate. So, on average, 4 times out of 10, when there's a penalty, the opposing team scored a touchdown. In addition, 14 times, the opposing team reached field goal range and attempted a FG for a 24% rate. That means that 65% of the time, a penalty resulted in a scoring chance for the opponent. In contrast, only 19% of the time did the Raiders defense hold the opponent to a punt. Let that sink in for a moment. 65% scoring rate. 19% punting rate. Ok, so how bad is that, really? To put that into context, let's take a look at Raiders defensive drives without penalties:

190 Total Defensive Drives

59 Defensive Drives with at least 1 penalty

131 Defensive Drives Without penalties

And then looking at the 131 defensive drives without penalties, we find:

Drive Results Without Penalties:

Drive Result Drives Percentage
Punt 58 44%
Touchdown 23 18%
Field Goal Attempt 14 11%
Interception 11 8%
End of Half 10 8%
Over on Downs 8 6%
Fumble 6 5%
Safety 1 1%

In drives without penalties, Raiders were forcing punts at a 44% rate, allowing TDs at 18% and FGAs at 11%! Huge difference. If you've managed to stay with me this long, we're almost there. We're getting a look at how badly the defensive penalties affected the team.

Here's a comparison of rates of punt/td/fga of drives with 0, 1, or 2 penalties :

Drive Result Rate comparison 0, 1, and 2 Penalties:

2 Penalties 1 Penalty No Penalties
Touchdown 47% 39% 18%
Field Goal Attempt 13% 29% 11%
Punt 20% 20% 44%

That's a drastic change. Raiders go from surrendering scores 60%-70% of the time When they commit a penalty to below 30% of the time if they do not; they go from forcing punts only 20% of the time if they commit a penalty to 44% of the time if they do not. Those are basically REVERSED numbers!

Now here's the big Finale for you to take and do with what you'd like: In 2011, the Raiders Defense was 29th in points allowed with 433 points. For a moment, if we project out a full season with ZERO defensive penalties and use the No Penalties-rate (18%-11%-44%) for each of the 190 defensive drives in 2011, we get a total of 302 points surrendered for the year, an improvement of 131 points. That's more than a TD per game (8.2 points per game).

The 2011 Top 5 defenses in Point Allowed were:

1. Pittsburgh : 227

2. SF : 229

3. Baltimore : 266

4. Houston : 278

5. Cleveland : 307

The 302 points allowed would have place the Raiders FIFTH overall, just ahead of Cleveland and behind the 4 ELITE defenses in the NFL. 131 points difference is equivalent to almost 19 TDs. Seriously. As bad as the Raiders defense played at time and with all the problems with coordination, injuries, and just poor play, simply cleaning up the defensive penalties could potentially show a drastic improvement. Getting better defensive play along the way (hello, Mr Wheeler, Mr. Spencer, Mr Bartell,...) would also be a big contributor.

Here are the results from 2011:

Week 1 : (+3) Denver : W 23-20

Week 2 : (-3) Buffalo : L 35-38

Week 3 : (+10) Jets : W 34-24

Week 4 : (-12) Patriots : L 19-31

Week 5 : (+5) Texans : W 25-20

Week 6 : (+7) Browns : W 24-17

Week 7 : (-28) Chiefs : L 0-28

Week 9 : (-14) Denver : L 24-38

Week 10 : (+7) Chargers : W 24-17

Week 11 : (+6) Vikings : W 27-21

Week 12 : (+5) Bears : W 25-20

Week 13 : (-20) Dolphins : L 14-34

Week 14 : (-30) Packers : L 16-46

Week 15 : (-1) Lions : L 27-28

Week 16 : (+3) Chiefs : W 16-13

Week 17 : (-12) Chargers : L 26-38

Total : (-74) 359 PF - 433 PA

0 Penalty Projected : (+57) 359 PF - 302 PA

So, keep this in mind when we talk about getting the penalties squared away and what the Raiders' potential is. Raiders could surprise in 2012.

If you managed to get this far, thank you. If you tl;dr'd it, I don't really blame you, but maybe you'll finish this post and grok it over a few readings?

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