Penalty points

At the rate they're going, the Dolphins not only are going to break the team record for penalties in a season, they're going to shatter it. Not only are they going to shatter the team record, they're going to smash the NFL record. Amid all the concern and consternation over the yellow flags, there also are questions. Such as: Why does this keep happening? Can anything be done? Is there any end in sight?

It's a topic that's been discussed ad nauseum already this season because it started on opening day and hasn't stopped.

The Dolphins have reached double digits in penalties every game, with a high (or low, if you will) of 18 Sunday against Buffalo.

The Dolphins are starting to get compared to the Oakland Raiders, who always commit a lot of penalties, but it's not a totally valid comparison.

That's because Oakland always seems to draw a lot of personal fouls, penalties that reflect an overaggressive, undisciplined approach.

The Dolphins are committing a ton of pre-snap penalties, either false start or offside.

For example, of the 18 penalties against Buffalo, six were for offside and five for false starts. Both numbers are absurd.

Those penalties indicate a lack of concentration and/or an over-eagerness that should't be happening with professional players.

Rex Hadnot has been the biggest culprit on offense, with six false starts in four games. That's a joke.

On defense, the biggest culprit has been Jason Taylor, who has been offside five times. This is more tricky. Taylor relies on a quick first step to get to the quarterback, so you'd hate to take away his edge there but he's got to focus on the football instead of the quarterback's voice to time his jump.

Of course, a lot was made Sunday of the taunting penalty assessed on Randy McMichael for sticking the ball out at safety Lawyer Milloy as he was crossing the goal line on his touchdown.

There is no question it was a stupid penalty. McMichael said afterward he showed bad judgment; no, he showed zero judgment.

But too much was made of the penalty in the aftermath of the 20-14 loss to the Bills because the reality is the Dolphins had the ball inside the Buffalo 15-yard line with a chance to win before Ronnie Brown's fumble.

Still, what McMichael's penalty -- along with the 17 others -- did was reduce the Dolphins' margin for error.

And as we've said before, the Dolphins don't have that big a margin to begin with. This is a solid team that plays good defense and has weapons on offense, but it's not an overpowering team.

The penalty problems figure to get fixed because they're very fixable and also because the law of averages says the high number of penalties is bound to go down.

But in the meantime, the Dolphins are just making things a lot tougher on themselves than they should be.


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