(Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

NFL’s most penalized teams in 2015

There is a reason coaches preach discipline on the field, as the most penalized teams in the NFL last year were watching the playoffs instead of participating in them.

NFL coaches preach discipline and there is good reason for it. Just look at the penalty report from the 2015 season for proof.

The four most penalized teams in the NFL last year – the Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders and Miami Dolphins – were all non-playoffs teams. Combined, those three teams went 27-37 with only the Bills among them reaching .500. The Bucs and Dolphins were both 6-10 and last in their respective divisions, and the Raiders were 7-9 and third in the AFC West.

Those four teams were the only ones to have more than 150 penalties called against them during the regular season, with the Bills leading the way with 169. Tampa Bay had 165, Oakland had 160 and Miami had 156.

Like most teams, the Bills were plagued by offensive holding calls. Of the 32 NFL teams, offensive holding was the most-called penalty for 27 of them.

However, the Bills did it their way, because easily their most penalized player was not an offensive lineman or even an offensive player. Despite 38 offensive holding calls on the team, it was defensive lineman Jerry Hughes that led the Bills with 14 penalties, including four neutral zone infractions and three defensive offsides.

Instead, the offensive linemen for the Bills shared the blame. Richie Incognito, Seantrel Henderson and Cordy Glenn were each called for seven penalties. Offensive holding was charged four times against Incognito, three times against Henderson and all seven of Glenn’s infractions were offensive holding.

For the Bucs, Gosder Cherilus had far more than his share of penalties. He was flagged 15 times, close to the most of anyone in the NFL. Five of those were offensive holding, four were false starts and three of them were illegal formation. Donovan Smith, who was penalized 13 times for Tampa Bay, had six holding calls against him.

The Raiders went 7-9 and were flagged 160 times. But, unlike most teams, their most frequent infraction was false starts – called against them 30 times last year. Despite that, their two most penalized players were both on defense (D.J. Hayden with 13 penalties and Neiko Thorpe with 11). Still, three of their seven most penalized players – Austin Howard, Donald Penn and J'Marcus Webb – were offensive linemen.

For the Dolphins, 32 of their 156 penalties were offensive holding. Still, their top two most penalized players were both defensive linemen. Ndamukong Suh, who gained a reputation as a dirty player early in his career with the Detroit Lions, was penalized 15 times, but eight of those were neutral zone infractions. In fact, none of his penalties were of the 15-yard variety. In addition to the neutral zone issues, he was called for encroachment three times, defensive offside twice, defensive holding and illegal use of the hands.

Defensive end Olivier Vernon, one of the top free agents this year, was flagged 11 times, and six of his penalties resulted in 15-yard mark-offs – five for roughing the passer and one for unnecessary roughness.

It wasn’t until Jason Fox’s 10 penalties that the Dolphins started to get into offensive holding calls. He was flagged six times for that.

For the record, the playoff team with the most penalties was the Seattle Seahawks, who advanced to the postseason with a 10-6 record and 138 penalties against them in 2015.


Buffalo 169
Tampa Bay 165
Oakland 160
Miami 156
New Orleans 146
Baltimore 145
St. Louis 143
San Diego 140
Cleveland 138
Seattle 138
Philadelphia 136
Washington 133
Cincinnati 132
Dallas 132
Denver 130
Indianapolis 130
San Francisco 130
Green Bay 129
Atlanta 127
Jacksonville 126
Kansas City 126
Houston 123
Detroit 122
New York Giants 122
Chicago 116
Carolina 115
Tennessee 115
New England 112
Pittsburgh 112
Arizona 110
New York Jets 108
Minnesota 105

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