Ravens turn last year's penalty problem around

November 04, 2010|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

One of the biggest turnarounds with the Ravens this season can be traced back to owner Steve Bisciotti.

In his end-of-the-season address in February, Bisciotti let it be known that he was tired of seeing penalty flags. "As an owner, you'd love for your team to be the least-penalized team in the league," Bisciotti said nine months ago. "I'm certainly not happy about it. I'm not going to lie to you."

Taking their owner's words to heart (and more importantly to the field), the Ravens have gone from producing the most penalty yards in the NFL in 2009 to drawing the most penalties from other teams in 2010.

This season, Ravens' opponents have committed an average of 9 ½ penalties per game. The Ravens haven't been flagged more than the other team in any game this season. In fact, the Ravens have averaged 32.7 fewer penalty yards than their opponent through seven games.

One reason why the Ravens have improved comes from practice. Since John Harbaugh was named Ravens coach in 2008, he has used college officials at practice. This season, he instructed them to call the workouts very tight, which conditioned the players to stick within the rules.

The Ravens are also very pro-active in sending questionable plays to the league office to get further explanation. By understanding how certain rules are interpreted, Ravens coaches can better teach the players about how to avoid penalties.

The result has been nearly two less penalties per game from 2009 (average of 7.1 penalties) to 2010 (5.2).

"To me, it comes down to playing fast with great technique," Harbaugh said recently. "If you play fast and you play with attention to detail as it relates to technique, then you have a chance to play within the rules and not get called. We have done a good job of that so far this year."

Discipline could be a major factor in the Ravens' next two games. The Miami Dolphins, who play at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, have been called for the fewest penalties this season. The Atlanta Falcons, who play host to the Ravens four days later, have committed the second-fewest.

The team that wins could be the team that doesn't beat itself.

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jamisonhensley TeamPenalties PGAvg. yardsDolphins431.1Falcons4.347.1Bills4.842.1Teams who are best at drawing penalties from other teams … TeamPenalties PGAvg. yardsRavens9.582.1Rams963.3Titans8.677.7Teams who commit the fewest penalties …

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