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October 17, 2016

Eagles on pace for historic number of penalties

Eagles NFL
101716MatthewStafford Rick Osentoski/AP

You can't rip the quarterback's helmet off of his head, guys.

Over their last two weeks, the Philadelphia Eagles have had an inordinate number of flags thrown against them, to the point where their games have been difficult to watch.

Against the Detroit Lions a week ago, the Eagles were penalized 14 times for 111 yards. Against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, they were penalized 13 times for 114 yards. Here are the Eagles' penalty counts so far on the season:

 OpponentPenalties Yards 
 Steelers10 99 
 Lions14 111 
 Redskins13 114 
 TOTAL49 404 

The Eagles' 9.8 penalties per game lead the NFL, while their 80.8 penalty yards per game are second only to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

MORE ON THE EAGLES: Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Redskins game | After latest Eagles loss, reason for concern on both sides of ball | Eagles Twitter account generates buzz for mocking NFL social media policy | Instant observations: Redskins 27, Eagles 20

In fact, the Eagles are on pace for a historic number of penalties. They are on pace for 156.8 penalties this season, which would be third most in the history of the NFL, behind only the 2011 Oakland Raiders and the 1998 Kansas City Chiefs:

 TeamTotal accepted penalties 
 2011 Oakland Raiders163 
 1998 Kansas City Chiefs158 
 2016 Philadelphia Eagles156.8 (on pace)
 1994 Los Angeles Raiders156 
 1996 Oakland Raiders156 

Unfortunately for the Eagles, this may not just be an anomaly, at least on the defensive side of the ball. Throughout his career, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has coached teams that committed a consistently high number of penalties:

 TeamAccepted penalties/game NFL Rank 
 2009 Lions6.13 20 
 2010 Lions8.5 31 
 2011 Lions7.94 30 
 2012 Lions6.44 20 
 2013 Lions6.88 24 
 2014 Bills 7.7531 
 2016 Eagles (through 5 games)9.8 32 

"It starts with me," said Doug Pederson after the Eagles' loss to the Redskins. "I have to go back and evaluate, and it's a discipline thing. I have to look and see if guys are in position, are they out of position, are they moving their feet, not moving their feet. Whatever they're doing, to cause the penalties – some of them are legit, obviously – but it's an area that we definitely have to clean up."

There was some unquestionably incompetent officiating in the Lions game Week 5, but that in no way excuses the inordinate number of penalties the Eagles have committed so far this season. They are playing very undisciplined football, and if it doesn't get better, the Eagles' 3-0 start to the season is going to be wasted.

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