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Official Review: The Numbers

Official Review was meant to be a series of posts delving into the wonderful world of NFL officiating.  I am not trying to count missed calls and pass judgement.  It is meant to give us a higher understand of NFL officiating and which crews call which penalties.  For those of you who don't remember, I also work as a High School Baseball Umpire so this topic has great interest to me.

Some of you may have read the first post in this series.  It is available HERE.   It focused on the new umpire position that caused so much havoc last year at this time (doesn't that seem like ages ago with all this lockout stuff?).  This time around we will look NFL wide at the number of penalties called each game and what variety of infraction is called most often.

I pulled play by play data from every game last season and complied it into one big list (almost 42,000 plays).  My breakdown after the jump.

Penalty Breakdown Games Played Total Plays Penalties Penalties/Game Colts Games Penalities in Colts Games Penalities/Colts Game
2010 256 41977 3436 14 16 174 11

First thing I see.  14 penalties a game.  I would have guessed a few more than that.  But I guess that's not that surprising.  Colts games average a few less each game at just under 11 per game.    That's to be expected as well as the Colts are one of the least penalized teams in the league.  Penalties called on 7% of the plays last year.

What kinds of penalties are called most often?  I'll tell you, Holding and False start got called most often last season at 659 and 647 respectively.  Now, we all know what a False Start is, but what about holding?  I like to think I know holding when I see it, but it is much more of a judgement call.  Let's look at some of the more judgement based calls.

Penalty Breakdown Offensive Holding OH/Game Pass Interference PI/Game Illegal Contact IC/Game Defensive Holding DH/Game
2010 659 2.57 212 0.83 80 0.31 139 0.54

The big thing we need to pull from this are the averages for each game as a whole.  We can now see that, on average, there are 2.5 holding calls a game.  That seems about right to me.  The defensive penalties are a little less than I expected.  Just over 1 Pass Interference and Illegal Contact per game is fewer than I thought.  Do the crews of Ron Winter and Ed Hochulli call fewer holding penalties?  Only the numbers will tell.  Now that we have a base line, we can compare that average to each individual officiating crew in the next installment.  

Remember these, burn them into your memory because you will be tested on them next week.  In the next article I will pull the averages for each officiating crew and compare to the league.  Maybe we can be prepared for what each crew will bring us before the game each week.  After that we will look specifically at the Colts games and how these breakdowns compare for our offense and defense.