Of all the problems the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had in 2011, we haven't mentioned penalties much. That may have been caused by the simple fact that penalties seem rather minor when compared to the multitude of other things that went wrong for the Bucs in 2011. Yet penalties were a massive problem nonetheless: the Bucs were penalized a whopping 148 times for 1,027 yards, nullifying 277 yards and giving up 33 first downs in the process. For comparison, opponents committed just 95 penalties for 786 yards, nullifying 330 yards and giving up 23 first downs. Over the season, the Bucs gave up 10 more first downs and 221 more yards than opponents on penalties.
This speaks simply to the lack of discipline under Raheem Morris' final year in control of the Buccaneers. Oddly enough, this wasn't really a structural problem for Raheem: in 2009, the Bucs had a positive penalty yardage differential, while in 2010 they had a negative differential, but were still some 200 yards below 2011's feast of penalties.
The disappointing part of penalties is that they are often preventable: false starts, offside, unnecessary roughness, various forms of pass interference and a whole list of other offenses are mostly caused by a lack of concentration. That is undoubtedly a focus for Greg Schiano as well: his old-school approach based on fundamentals and discipline will not stand for stupid penalties. Hopefully, we will be able to see the difference on the field during the 2012 season.