Originally written on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 8/15/12

When you’re watching a football game and a graphic comes across the screen telling you that one of the teams is the least penalized team in the league, that is typically seen as a positive characteristic. The fewer the penalties, the more disciplined the team. That’s the line of thinking for many fans and coaches, but not for new Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano. In his opinion, if you aren’t getting penalized you aren’t giving it your all.

“The silly penalties are the ones where you line up offsides. That’s just silly, right?” Schiano said during an interview with WDAE’s Ron and Ian on Tuesday. “You’re just not paying attention to details. And then there’s the execution penalties, where you’re playing hard and you happen to fly over the top and hit somebody out of the hit zone. You’re going to get a penalty for that. I don’t want to slow our guys down too much that way.

“It’s a fine line between being a physical, aggressive football team and getting a flag. You gotta be careful. I don’t ever want to be the least penalized team in the league, because I don’t think you’re trying hard enough then. But I certainly do want to be in the top 10. That’s where you should be. You should be — five through 10 is a great place to be as a penalized team.”

Opinions on penalties vary depending on coaching style and schemes, but Schiano has a point. The Bucs ranked 29th in the NFL last season with more than seven penalties per game, so obviously they had a discipline problem. However the Colts, Jaguars and Redskins were all among the five least penalized teams in the league, and we saw how their seasons turned out. The 49ers, who were widely considered to have the NFL’s best defense, ranked 25th. The Super Bowl champion Giants were right in the middle of the pack at No. 14.

The Bucs are leaning on Schiano to help them fix a number of things this season. A simple look at the number will tell you that penalties don’t tell nearly the entire story.

Thanks to Sports Radio Interviews for transcribing the quotes
Photo credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

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