The Green Bay Packers were guilty of 105 accepted penalties last season, a dramatic increase compared to the 78 infactions during the Super Bowl season of 2010 and the 76 during the 15-1 run of 2011 and significantly more than its 92 penalties in 2014.
The most-frequent targets were left tackle David Bakhtiari (12 penalties, seven for holding), left guard Josh Sitton (eight penalties, six for holding), right tackle Bryan Bulaga (seven, five for holding) and quarterback Aaron Rodgers (six, five for delay of game).
With linemen occupying the top three spots, it should be no surprise that the Packers were among the league leaders for holding penalties — a 29th-ranked 36 times, according to NFL data. (Note: That number includes holding by skilled-position players and on special teams. Also, that number includes accepted and declined penalties.)
Green Bay’s offense was guilty of 22 holds that were accepted, according to team data — seven more than its average of the previous seven seasons. In 2011, when the Packers fielded one of the most productive offenses in NFL history, that number was only seven.
Only seven offensive linemen were penalized more than Bakhtiari and only three were flagged more for holding, with the Rams’ Greg Robinson leading both categories with 16 penalties and 11 holds.
What irks McCarthy are pre-snap penalties, and that was a mixed bag last season. While there were far too many holding penalties, Green Bay’s offense was called for only 11 false starts — tied for the fewest over the past eight seasons. Its 13 false starts (including special teams) were the fifth-fewest in the NFL. On the other hand, Rodgers was on the hook for the bulk of the six delay-of-game penalties, a tally that ranked a middle-of-the-road 17th. Still, that was the most of his time at quarterback, more than doubling the previous seven-year average of 2.9.
In the secondary, the Packers might have missed Charles Woodson’s big plays and leadership but they didn’t miss his penchant for grabbing. Green Bay was flagged four times for pass interference and five times for holding last season for a combined nine infractions. Woodson averaged 9.3 penalties from 2009 through 2011.
On the plus side, Green Bay won the yearly penalty battle. While its 105 penalties were its most since its 119 in 2009 — fourth-most in franchise history — its opponents were flagged 120 times, giving the Packers winning margins of plus-15 in penalties and plus-201 yards. The big numbers from that perspective? Green Bay was flagged four times for 109 yards on pass interference compared to 14 times for 364 yards by its opponents. Plus, Green Bay committed only six third- and fourth-down penalties that resulted in a first down. Opponents gave away 26 first downs with their third- and fourth-down infractions.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.