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One Easy Area To Get Better for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Penalties

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were penalized 114 times for 837 yards of penalties and an additional 311 nullified yards. That sounds like a lot, right? Well, it's just about league average. The 114 penalties ranked 13th and the 837 yards ranked 14th in the NFL. Some of these penalties were more or less unavoidable - the Bucs were penalized 27 times times for Offensive Holding, 4 of which were declined. This is simply a sign of the quality of a player more than intelligence or focus - oftentimes a player either holds, or gives up a sack or tackle for loss. There are exceptions, but this isn't likely the type of penalty to go down with better focus, only with more skill. Defensive Pass Interference penalties are similar, of which the Bucs had 4 for 53 yards.

But there's one specific group of penalties that are easy to avoid: procedural penalties. The Bucs had 5 Delay of Game penalties that weren't part of the punting strategy, they had 1 Defensive 12 On The Field penalty, 2 Illegal Substitution penalties, 18 False Starts, 3 Illegal Shift penalties and 3 Illegal Formation penalties. None of those penalties need to occur, well, ever. They're just a result of sloppy, unfocused play. In fact, during the first couple of weeks the Bucs kept getting penalized for Illegal Shift and Illegal Formation penalties, because Freeman shifted the formation with too little time remaining on the play clock to get it right. But after week 10 the Bucs didn't have even one of those penalties, because Freeman learned from his mistakes. Perhaps this is part of being a young team, but it's an easy part of the game to fix, and an easy way for the Bucs to get better in 2011.