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Fast Facts: Seahawks haven’t cleaned up the penalties in 2018

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Seattle Seahawks v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

In 2017 the Seattle Seahawks missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011, finishing the season having led the entire NFL in penalties committed. It was truly a group effort in this regard, with all three units performing poorly when it came to drawing flags.

The defense led the way, with 64 accepted penalties, which ranked 32nd in the entire NFL, but the offense and special teams units were not far behind coming in 29th and T28th, respectively. The offense committed 60 penalties which were accepted for a total of 534 penalty yards, while the special teams units had 24 penalties accepted for 202 yards.

So far in 2018 the Seahawks defense has addressed many of their penalty issues, and the unit has improved from last in the league to a tie with four other teams with 26 penalties so far this year. Here’s how the league standings look for defensive penalties.

Defensive penalties by team in 2018

Team Defensive Penalties (Accepted) Defensive Penalty Yards Defensive Pre-snap penalties
Team Defensive Penalties (Accepted) Defensive Penalty Yards Defensive Pre-snap penalties
Philadelphia 16 166 4
Tennessee 16 161 4
New England 17 118 1
Dallas 19 148 4
NY Jets 19 168 10
Buffalo 20 252 6
Carolina 20 206 7
Oakland 22 259 5
Baltimore 23 261 0
New Orleans 23 199 6
Washington 24 248 2
Cincinnati 24 281 4
Green Bay 25 293 2
San Francisco 25 257 6
Atlanta 25 236 8
Seattle 26 246 6
Chicago 26 237 3
Jacksonville 26 180 7
Arizona 26 288 3
LA Rams 26 230 4
Denver 27 190 8
Indianapolis 28 217 15
Houston 28 184 17
NY Giants 28 330 5
Detroit 28 235 3
Cleveland 29 258 5
Miami 29 191 9
Minnesota 29 290 12
Tampa Bay 30 262 12
LA Chargers 32 262 11
Pittsburgh 35 351 8
Kansas City 41 331 11
Team Defensive Penalties Defensive Penalty Yards Presnap Defensive Penalties

Interestingly, former Seahawk Michael Bennett has drastically cleaned up his penalties in 2018. He has just four penalties so far this season, with only two of those penalties being for jumping the snaps (One neutral zone infraction and one offside penalty). Bennett drew a whopping 15 flags in 2017, and while he has seen his snap count drop significantly in Philadelphia, he is seeing flags thrown his way far less often. After averaging a flag once every 62 snaps played in Seattle in 2017, he is averaging a flag once every 104 snaps so far in 2018.

The Seahawks special teams have done the best of the team’s three units in terms of cleaning up penalties so far in 2018. After tying for 28th most penalties in the league in 2017, Brian Schneider’s special teams unit currently boasts the third fewest penalties of any special teams unit in the NFL.

Special teams penalties by team

Team Special Teams Penalties Special Teams Penalty Yards
Team Special Teams Penalties Special Teams Penalty Yards
Minnesota 5 40
Tennessee 5 43
Seattle 6 42
Miami 7 65
San Francisco 7 78
Tampa Bay 8 70
Atlanta 8 89
Kansas City 10 98
Washington 10 73
Denver 10 82
Chicago 10 100
New Orleans 10 105
Carolina 10 65
Cincinnati 11 94
NY Giants 11 85
Dallas 11 107
NY Jets 11 91
Buffalo 12 95
Indianapolis 12 102
Houston 12 89
Oakland 12 79
Baltimore 13 96
Arizona 13 114
Green Bay 14 140
New England 14 127
Cleveland 15 123
LA Rams 15 140
Philadelphia 15 144
LA Chargers 16 162
Jacksonville 16 143
Detroit 16 147
Pittsburgh 19 188

Aiding the Hawks special teams in penalty reduction this season may be the replacement of assistant special teams coach Heath Farwell, who left to join the Carolina Panthers in the same capacity during the offseason. Farwell joined the staff in 2016, after spending 2015 on injured reserve, and in the two seasons Farwell was an assistant the Seahawks special teams ranked T23rd and T28th in most penalties.

Filling the void as special teams assistant has been Larry Izzo, a three time Pro Bowl special teamer for the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. Izzo helped Tom Coughlin turn around the New York Giants special teams in 2011, and so far seems to have contributed greatly to the Seahawks special teams seeing a drastic reduction in penalties.

As for the team’s third unit, the offense, overall 2018 has not been that much different from 2017 when it comes to penalties. In fact, it is arguable that 2018 has been worse. In 2017 the Seattle offense finished 29th in the NFL with 60 accepted penalties, however in 2018 they are so far in 31st place with 43 accepted penalties, with only the Kansas City Chiefs having more offensive penalties accepted so far this season. Here is how all 32 teams stack up.

Offensive penalties by team

Team Offensive Penalties Off Penalty Yards Offensive Penalties Presnap
Team Offensive Penalties Off Penalty Yards Offensive Penalties Presnap
New England 16 119 8
Detroit 21 178 9
LA Rams 21 163 11
Minnesota 23 167 13
NY Giants 23 160 12
Pittsburgh 24 191 8
Miami 25 199 8
Arizona 26 176 16
New Orleans 26 209 13
Carolina 26 201 15
Jacksonville 27 225 11
Cincinnati 27 200 13
Chicago 28 200 17
Atlanta 28 215 13
Tennessee 28 243 10
LA Chargers 29 225 15
San Francisco 29 212 16
NY Jets 29 211 16
Green Bay 30 232 15
Dallas 30 233 13
Philadelphia 30 235 15
Cleveland 32 255 13
Baltimore 32 225 17
Tampa Bay 33 260 14
Houston 33 230 19
Oakland 33 237 17
Indianapolis 34 278 11
Denver 34 300 6
Washington 40 338 15
Buffalo 42 325 21
Seattle 43 312 24
Kansas City 46 385 20

Astute observers will also note that the Chiefs have a bye this weekend, meaning they have already played eleven games to the ten that the Seahawks have played. Thus, while Kansas City is averaging 4.18 accepted offensive penalties per game this season, the Seahawks actually clock in worse at 4.3 accepted per game. That puts the offense dead last in the NFL when looking at it on a penalty per game basis.

Thus, while the defense and special teams are doing a far better job of avoiding yellow flags in 2018, the offense continues to drag the team down overall. Here is how things stack up for overall penalties so far this season for every team across the league.

Total penalties by team in 2018

Team Accepted Penalties Penalty Yardage
Team Accepted Penalties Penalty Yardage
New England 47 364
Tennessee 49 452
Carolina 56 472
Minnesota 57 465
NY Jets 59 450
New Orleans 59 575
Dallas 60 508
Miami 61 554
Philadelphia 61 540
Atlanta 61 540
San Francisco 61 547
Cincinnati 62 542
NY Giants 62 575
LA Rams 63 543
Chicago 64 537
Detroit 65 560
Arizona 65 470
Oakland 67 575
Baltimore 68 520
Green Bay 69 665
Jacksonville 70 661
Denver 71 572
Tampa Bay 71 592
Houston 73 503
Buffalo 74 672
Indianapolis 74 597
Washington 74 692
Seattle 75 600
Cleveland 76 569
LA Chargers 77 649
Pittsburgh 78 730
Kansas City 97 814

Obviously, there are still six weeks left in the season for things to change, but if things continue the way they have thus far in 2018, the Hawks appear on pace to once again finish near the top of the list for most penalized teams in the NFL.