This is not a good team stat to have after 4 games
Tomlin's team holds dubious distinction
After Sunday's win over Philadelphia, Mike Tomlin's Steelers have more penalty yards than rushing yards.
Posted: Monday, October 8, 2012
By Mike Bires [EMAIL="firstname.lastname@example.org"]email@example.com[/EMAIL]
PITTSBURGH – Mike Tomlin didn’t like the line of questioning when asked repeatedly about the Steelers’ ongoing penalty problems. But two things to consider: The team he coaches leads the NFL in infractions per game and it was him who first brought up the subject.
In his opening statement Monday at his weekly press conference, Tomlin addressed the nine penalties for 106 yards that were called against the Steelers in Sunday’s 16-14 win over the Eagles.
The Steelers have the dubious distinction of leading the league with 9.2 penalties per game.
In their four games, they’ve been penalized 37 times. They have more penalty yards than rushing yards (346-331).
“Penalties hurt you in a lot of ways,” Tomlin said. “They put you behind the chains. They eliminate explosion plays and limit field position. They minimize scoring opportunities.”
On the Steelers’ second possession Sunday, they were flagged five times over a span of eight plays.
Two calls were holding violations against left guard Willie Colon (one was declined). Another was an illegal formation penalty called against wide receiver Mike Wallace that negated a 24-yard run by running back Rashard Mendenhall.
The Steelers’ coaching staff was furious about the Wallace penalty that wiped out Mendenhall’s run to the Eagles 30-yard line. But an official ruled that Wallace was too close to the line of scrimmage, and thus “covered up” tight end Heath Miller.
“I’m not concerned about close,” Tomlin said when asked specifically about Wallace’s penalty. “It was called and it was justified. It was illegal. We have to fix that. We can’t beat ourselves in that manner.”
In the third quarter, both of the Steelers’ safeties were flagged for 15-yard personal fouls that aided an Eagles’ touchdown drive. The referees ruled that Ryan Clark hit tight end Brent Celek late and that Ryan Mundy drilled wide receiver Jeremy Maclin with an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit.
“I’m not disputing these penalties in here with you (media),” Tomlin said. “I’ll do it in the proper manner with the people at the league office if I have a beef. I’m not going to do it in here. That’s unprofessional as far as I’m concerned.
“Those (officials) are doing the best they can, particularly in light of some of the instances that we have in today’s NFL regarding player safety. Just know that we’re trying our very best to play within the rules and it’s disappointing for us when we don’t. We have a desire to play within the rules. We also have a desire to increase our chances of winning, but when you’re picking up 30 yards in penalties in one drive, that’s going to give people an opportunity to score.”
So far, Colon has been the most penalized Steeler. He’s been flagged eight times, six for holding and two false starts.
Cornerback Ike Taylor has been flagged four times, three times for pass interference and once for holding.
Cornerback Keenan Lewis has also been called three times for pass interference.
In fairness to Taylor, one of his pass interference penalties in the Week 2 win over the Jets was hailed by USA Today as “the worst pass interference penalty you’ve ever seen.” Taylor never touched Santonio Holmes on the play.
And remember, for the first three weeks of the season, the “replacement refs” struggled to get it right while the regular officials were locked out over contractual matters.
“We’re no different than anybody else in the National Football League in regards to dealing with some of those types of penalties we’re talking about,” Tomlin said. “We had an opportunity to sit the week out last week (with our bye) and I saw similar things from other teams. We’ll continue to do the best that we can and understand that we have a high level of respect for how the game needs to be played today.
“I’m less concerned about judgments and interpretations and so forth. I’m more concerned about playing in the manner that the flags stay in the pocket.
"It's my job to get them fixed," Tomlin added of the Steelers' penalty problems. "We will work on that this week."
The Steelers (2-2) play the Titans (1-4) on Thursday night in Nashville, Tenn.
I was harping a few days ago about penalties and lack of discipline but upon further reflection I think there are reasonable assignable causes:
- new offense being installed and players not completely comfortable
- new players at key positions
- young players with not a lot of game time
- new defensive leadership
- trying too hard
- thinking too much
If things don't improve as the season progresses, then some blame can certainly go to the coaching staff as well.