Friday, October 22, 2010

Phillips vs Parcells - Penalties

I received a massive amount of feedback from our look at the penalty problem from Wednesday, so since we have an extra day to prepare for Monday Night, allow me to address that feedback today and then do the Game Plan for the Giants on Monday morning.

At the heart of many emails was the issue with Parcells vs Wade. Here is what I wrote on Wednesday:

Since the start of 2007, only Oakland has committed more penalties than the Cowboys.
Since the start of 2008, nobody has committed more penalties than the Cowboys.
Since the start of 2009, only Oakland has committed more penalties than the Cowboys.

And for those of you who think "this team had a penalty problem under Bill Parcells, too", let me put that to rest.

From 2003-2006, "the Bill Parcells era", the Cowboys ranked 25th in the NFL in penalties during his tenure. 25th! Only 7 teams in the NFL committed FEWER penalties than the Cowboys did under Parcells. The only teams that had fewer flags than the Cowboys: Chiefs, Browns, Colts, Steelers, Broncos, Seahawks, and Jets.

Many of you left comments about this commentary, so let me share one with you:

Craig writes:


I love your work. But I'm going to have to ask you back up your stats about the Parcells era vs now.

A quick check over at stats show the Cowboys in bottom half of the league in penalties. Their Defense even lead the league in penalties in 2005! Now there aren't team totals available for 3 year spans but it's hard to see how below average performance on both sides of the ball added up to 7th best after 3 years.

Thanks, Craig. I am happy to show my math. may divide the penalties by unit, but let's keep things simple here and just look at the ideas of the Dallas Cowboys penalty report card.

For context, let's start with the Dave Campo era:

YearNFL Penalty RankTotal PenaltiesNFL Pen Yard RankPen Yards

HTML Table

Now, the Bill Parcells era:

YearNFL Penalty RankTotal PenaltiesNFL Pen Yard RankPen Yards

HTML Table

And finally, the Wade Phillips era - (including this year through 5 games - perhaps most alarmingly is the fact that on a per game basis, the Cowboys are actually #1 in 2010):

YearNFL Penalty RankTotal PenaltiesNFL Pen Yard RankPen Yards

HTML Table

i think the raw numbers are not as important as the ranks. The reason is that from year to year there are different NFL initiatives that may raise or lower overall penalty calls. 100 team penalties in 2001 may not mean the same as 100 penalties in 2009. That is why the rank within the league in a given year is more important to me.

I think when you look at these numbers, it is pretty clear that Wade Phillips' teams have a far greater issue with penalties than Bill Parcells' teams. All you need to do is look at the number of times that they were ranked in the Top 10. Parcells' teams were never ranked in the Top 10 in total penalties (although they were very close in 2006), whereas, Phillips' teams never ranked outside of the Top 10.

Penalties are not everything. In fact, many of you have properly pointed out that Wade Phillips' teams also have a higher win percentage (.654 vs .531) and playoff wins (1 vs 0). But, when discussing this topic, we should try to remember that perception is not reality.

There was a phase when Parcells was challenged about penalties (we all remember his "I don't coach penalties" quote), but that was likely in 2006 when his era had quite an uptick in flags. But, even in his most horrendous year in penalties, he still didn't crack the Top 10 in the NFL.

And Wade has never been outside of the Top 10 most penalized teams in the NFL while in Dallas.

1 comment:

rncantu said...

And again...


The Cowboys must lead the league in ten-yard penalties, right? Do you know if they breakdown the penalties as pre-snap or in-game penalties?

It seemed like the Parcells Cowboys had more pre-snap penalites while the Wade Cowboys have more in-game penalties.

It's those ten-yard penalties that kill the Cowboys.