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Study: Steelers’ Preseason Penalties

Ahhh, the penalty. We love to talk about them; we love to criticize the calls, and we most certainly love to make our judgments off of them. They’re what make a lot of games even more interesting; just ask Vontaze Burfict, or Adam Jones. And yes, they can be dull and make the games drag on like The Wolf of Wall Street (don’t get mad at me, I actually really liked the movie, but 3 hours? C’mon!) Nevertheless, they’re an important aspect of the game. And that’s why Mike Tomlin has put an emphasis on these since his arrival in the ‘Burgh.

Last year, the Steelers were among the most disciplined teams in the NFL, posting the 7th fewest offensive penalties and the 3rd fewest defensive penalties in the league per Sporting Charts’ analysis. The caveat, of course, is that these statistics are a little fickle, but we can at least use them as generalities. They show Pittsburgh being a sound team when it comes to errors resulting in penalties, and the hope, obviously, as that they can continue the trend going into 2016.

We’ve crunched the preseason totals so far, and while they are expectedly higher than last year’s averages, they weren’t a major blow to any of the games, which provides some encouragement.

Below you will find a breakdown of penalties incurred in each of the 3 preseason contests, and they are also divided into offensive and defensive categories.

Total Penalties v. Detroit: 7

Offense

Offensive Line: 4

Alejandro Villanueva: 1

Chris Hubbard: 1

Valerian Ume-Ezeoke: 1

Jerald Hawkins: 1

Tight End: 1

Xavier Grimble: 1

Defense

Defensive Back: 2

Sean Davis: 1

Ross Cockrell: 1

Total Penalties v. Philadelphia: 5

Offense

Offensive Line: 1

Cody Wallace: 1

Tight End: 1  

David Johnson: 1

Wide Receiver: 2

Sammie Coates: 1

Demarcus Ayers: 1

Defense

Linebacker: 1

Travis Feeney: 1

Total Penalties v. New Orleans: 8

Offense

Offensive Line: 3

David DeCastro: 1

Ryan Harris: 1

B.J. Finney: 1

Tight End: 1

Xavier Grimble: 1

Quarterback: 1

Landry Jones: 1

Defense

Linebacker: 2

Lawrence Timmons: 1

Vince Williams: 1

Defensive Back: 1

Will Gay: 1

As is the usual with most teams, the offensive line was responsible for a good portion of the penalties, committing 7 of the 20 total penalties. But for the most part, they’ve remained quite disciplined throughout. There’s no telling at this moment how this will translate to the regular season, given that we’ve only seen starters for small portions of games, but penalties often times reflect on coaching and Tomlin has been one of the best at instilling this mindset into his players.

With just over 2 defensive penalties/game last season, and under 4 offensive penalties/game, the Steelers are primed to avoid those self-defeating, and often times game-changing, flags that have plagued many organizations in the NFL. The discipline will be something to watch this Thursday when they take on the Panthers in the final game of the preseason.

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