NFL Penalty Flag

Not Your Dad’s NFL Stats

If you want to build something different it starts with innovative data

We don’t scrape and regurgitate readily available NFL data because that’s just plain boring. Our goal at ArmchairAnalysis.com has always been to provide cutting-edge NFL stats that can be used to build innovative NFL-related applications that push the boundaries of grid-iron analysis.

Take our breakdown of NFL penalties as one example.

Here’s a fun little fact: Between the 2000 and 2013 there were roughly 50,064 penalties called in the NFL with a total of over 352,500 penalty yards being assessed in the process.

That’s no small number and it adds up to a huge impact on hundreds of game outcomes.

All penalties are not created equal; however, and our goal is to provide you with the metrics that will help you determine what does, and doesn’t, matter when it comes to game outcomes; fantasy point totals — you name it.

Over the past few seasons, we’ve come up with the following 7 categories that account for 99.6% of all flags thrown in the NFL.

#1 False Start Penalties (Offense)

This is one of the most common of all penalty calls and deserves it’s very own category

#2 Offensive Holding Penalties

This category consists mostly of holding calls on the Offensive Line.

Most common flags: Offensive Holding, Offensive Pass Interference & Illegal Use of Hands.

#3 Playbook Execution Penalties

This is my favourite category. These tend to occur more often at the start of the season, and, against teams that try and skimp on headsets for the coaching staff (had you going there, right?).

Most common flags: Illegal Formations, Passes, Substitutions, Procedures and Motion; Intentional Grounding, 12 On Field, Delay of Game.

#4 Defensive Line Penalties

It’s all about the timing. And, not drinking excessive amounts of caffeine too close to game time.

Most common flags: Defensive Offside, Encroachment, Neutral Zone Infractions.

#5 Defensive Secondary Penalties

Cornerbacks and Safeties have a tough job, but, some just do it better than others.

Most common flags: Defensive Holding, Defensive Pass Interference, Illegal Contact & Use of Hands.

#6 Dumb Penalties

Teams that are overly aggressive on defense (I’m looking at you Ravens) are more likely to draw these types of flags. Emotion aside, some of these really are just plain stupid.

Most common flags: Taunting, Roughing the Passer/Kicker, Face Masks, Unsportsmanlike Conduct.

#7 Poor Fundamentals

This is a category of penalties where the quality of a team’s defensive coach and staff can be measured. Some like tripping, border on dumb. But, if you need to trip someone in the first place it’s usually because you’re not doing your job very well.

Most common flags: Illegal Blocks, Crackbacks, Tripping, Horsecollars, Clipping.

Here is our list shown in a handy table, revealing the actual number of penalties for each category and the average yards-per-call.

Category #Flags Yards Avg
False Starts 9,363 45,890 4.90
Offensive Holding 10,842 85,514 7.89
Playbook Execution 6,652 28,477 4.28
Defensive Line 5,662 22,126 3.91
Defensive Secondary 7,506 61,916 8.25
Dumb/Aggressive 7,343 85,067 11.58
Poor Fundamentals 2,493 22,442 9.00

This is just one example of our quest to innovate and present NFL data that is just plain fun to explore. Stay tuned for many more examples to come!

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