Diagnosis: Winning is the cure for everything, or so the Snake-Oil Salesmen that are NFL pundits claim. However, the New York Jets victory over the Bills came at the heels of TWENTY penalties (not including one that was declined and another that was offset). Penalties are mental errors committed by a player that hurt the team as a whole. These little yellow flags are the equivalent of self mutilation for an NFL team. Despite the 300+ yard passer, two 100+ yard receivers, and the 140+ yard rusher, the Jets hurt themselves enough that the Bills managed to tie it up in the fourth. Winning can’t cure this degree of self mutilation and if the Jets keep committing penalties at this rate, the winning won’t continue much longer.
- Stalled drives
- Seeing flying yellow cloth
- Blowing leads
- Angry letters to NFL officials
- Change of momentum
- A profusion of face palms
Understanding the Seriousness of the Issue: A summary of Sunday’s transgressions may help put this issue into perspective…
1. Holmes – Holding (10 yards on 1st & 10)
2. Ducasse – False Start (5 yards on 2nd & 3)
3. Cumberland – Offensive Holding (10 yards on 2nd & 3)
4. Ducasse – Face Mask (15 yards on 1st & 10)
5. Wilkerson – Offside (5 yards 3rd & 4)
6. Cromartie – Pass Interference (9 yards on 3rd & 5) [Gave the Bills a new set of downs]
7. Colon – Holding (10 yards on 1st & 10)
8. Ducasse – Holding (10 yards on 1st & 10) [Pushed the Jets out of the Red Zone]
9. Ducasse – False Start (5 yards on 1st & 20) [first and twenty five….]
10. Wilson – Pass Interference (24 yards on 1st & 10)
11. Winslow – Offensive Pass Interference (10 yards on 1st & 10) [Immediately followed by INT]
(OFFSET) On a third-and-six at the Bills’ 24, Wilson is flagged for defensive holding
12. Wilson – Illegal Contact (5 yards on 3rd & 6) [Immediately following offset holding]
13. Wilson – Personal Foul (5 yards on 1st & 10)
(DECLINED) DL Sheldon Richardson is also flagged for illegal use of hands.
14. Wilson – Personal Foul (15 yards on 1st & 10)
15. Holmes – Illegal Shift (5 yards on 1st & 10)
16. Coples – Offside (5 yards on 3rd & 10)
17. Coples – Offside (5 yards on 3rd & 5) [Immediately following other offside, first down Bills]
18. Wilkerson – Offside (5 yards on 3rd & 4)
19. Hill – False Start (5 yards on 2nd & 8)
20. Geno Smith – Delay of Game (5 yards on 4th & 3)
The two biggest culprits were Ducasse and Wilson who each had four. Wilson in particular had a mental breakdown and was temporarily benched. It looks like Stevie Johnson got under his skin late in the game, as three of his four penalties (plus the fifth that was offset) came in the fourth quarter. Winslow’s PI put Smith in a position where he tried to make a play and ended up turning the ball over. Ducasse’s consecutive penalties pushed the Jets out of the Red Zone when they could have put the game away. Finally, Coples’ consecutive penalties gave the Bills a first down and led to the game tying score. In total, the Jets’ twenty penalties yielded more yards to the Bills than the Giants managed to produce all day.
Immediate impact of these penalties aside, the last team to win a game with 20+ penalties was the 1951 Cleveland Browns. The Jets lead the NFL (through three games) with an average 11.3 penalties per game. For perspective, the 2012, 2011, and 2010 penalty leaders (Saint Louis – 8.2, Oakland – 10.3, and Oakland – 9.2 respectively) had a combined record of 23-24.
Get Down and Give Me 10: Organizational push ups are a tool that Rex Ryan uses to instill accountability in his players. When one player commits a penalty the whole organization gets down on the turf, except the guilty player. Said player is forced to watch the ball boys, Owner Woody Johnson, his teammates, and coaches all work together to atone for his folly. One can imagine this experience being pretty humiliating. This strategy has helped focus the players in the past and make them more conscious of how their mistakes effect the team as a whole.
Concentration: These mistakes are the result of numerous issues. The main problem, however, is mental lapses. Ducasse needs to not fall for his own quarterback’s hard count. Coples needs to attack at the motion of the ball, not the inflection of the opposing passer’s voice. Wilson needs to cool down. It’s a matter of getting the player’s heads in the game. Simple.
Bias?: When asked about Sunday’s Penalty-palooza Kellen Winslow had this to say:
“What can I say about that? Especially that one (fourth quarter) drive. I mean come on. It was beyond ridiculous. The league needs to take a look at that because that can’t happen. Let us play, ya know? Every play was like a call. It must have been six or seven calls. Come on, you got to let us play a little bit. I’ll leave it at that.”
He may be on to something there. Many fans undoubtedly found the plethora of penalties ridiculous. It felt like the Jets were being targeted all day. Perhaps they were. These weren’t “head-to-head collision-preventing” or “quarterback-babying” calls mind you. Winslow expresses what many players and fans believe should be the mantra for officials, let em play. However, many of their twenty penalties were blatant errors and should have been called. How can you ask a ref to choose which mistakes to call and which to ignore? Still, you can’t blame Winslow for being irritated.