Browns need to focus on reducing costly penalties

Browns helmetThe Browns’ offense has been called for 60 penalties this season, for a total of 546 yards. That places them third in number of penalties and second in penalty yardage. On defense the Browns are in the middle of the pack, committing 50 penalties for 427 yards.

When you have been struggling to score points and win games, giving away yards, first downs and field position isn’t the way to help.

Against the Chiefs, Cleveland racked up Nine penalties for 70 yards including two big holding penalties in the fourth quarter. The first holding call helped knock the Browns out of field goal range when they were down only three points. The second pushed the Browns deep into their own territory and created a second and 20 when the team was trying to move into range to tie the game.

Joe Thomas was the Brown who was flagged for those two holds, but the rest of the team has certainly had it’s share of gaffes at inopportune times. False starts, hands to the face calls and unnecessary roughness penalties have all cost the team late in games.

Against Detroit, the Lions had just taken a 21-17 lead. Cleveland got the ball and committed three penalties to stall any chance at a response drive, including a false start and an unsportsmanlike conduct. Those mental mistakes are magnified in the closing minutes of games.

The Browns are the second youngest team in the league, and as such you might expect them to commit a few more penalties. However if they want to take the next step and be a winning team, they will need to cut down on mental mistakes.

Where did the Browns rank last year in penalties? The offense was second last year as well in penalty yards, marching 1,005 yards backwards. The defense was one of only four teams penalized for over 1,000 yards. The defense has improved slightly in that area this season.

For the most part, penalties are about discipline. Players have to control their actions and concentrate on various assignments and and techniques. If the Browns are going to be successful against the Ravens or any of their upcoming opponents, making an effort to reduce these mistakes is paramount.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Offensive penalties are generally more controllable, and Thomas has been flagged a LOT this year, often for trying to get a step ahead. (And he’s come close a bunch more times.) The holds I’m less concerned with when it’s him because they often seem to be to avoid a sack. But the motions/false starts/delays/et al should never happen.

    Defensive penalties are much harder, and it’s easy to think of a number of PIs (most of the ones on Skrine/Haden) and roughness penalties that the Browns have gotten that are questionable (Groves vs DET, Gibson vs GB, etc.).

  • nj0

    Sour grapes warning, but officiating seems worse than ever this year. Arbitrary, that’s the word that I think of.

  • nj0

    Yeah, I was going to say: I don’t know if I agree with the widely held belief that “penalties are about discipline”. A good portion are, especially the offensive ones you mention. But a good portion actually seem to be about luck and the refs.

  • maxfnmloans

    The ones that drive me up a wall are the procedure penalties: illegal formation, false start, delay of game, 12 men in the huddle, etc.

  • Harv 21

    Haden’s first-drive roughing penalty was not only obvious, unnecessary and brainless, those 15 yards led to a field goal rather than a punt. It’s a killer when team leaders play stupid, trying to make “statements,” retaliating or whatever. Probably the residue of entering the league on a team that doesn’t know how to win

  • maxfnmloans

    I agree on stuff like holding on offense, and PI on defense. Its up to the refs sometimes whether its a PI and a spot foul for 30 yards or defensive holding and only 5 yds, That’s if they even see the infraction.

    Most recently, there were a couple horrendous calls in the game last night for what looked like legal hits. One personal foul was for a hit on Kellen Clemens where the DE was already in the air when he threw the ball and one where a db and a receiver were both going for a ball, they both dove, and even though it was obvious the Db was going for the INT and not playing the man, they flagged him anyway)

  • maxfnmloans

    “It’s a killer when team leaders play stupid, trying to make “statements,”
    /tosses helmet

    -Dwayne Rudd

  • hash

    I’ve noticed Thomas being called for a lot of penalties this year, I wonder if he’s finally losing a step.

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