Speaking to the media during Buccaneers OTAs head coach Dirk Koetter emphasized the need to improve the rate of penalties called against them from 2015.
"“We’ve had a lot of educational sessions about penalties and how they hurt us [last] year. I do feel like having officials on the field helps reinforce the fact that there’s a consequence for some things we do.” – Dirk Koetter"
Last season the Bucs tied for dead-last in the NFL for penalties assessed against the team with 143 going against them. Only the Buffalo Bills joined them at the bottom and they were the only teams to eclipse 140 violations on the year.
Of the penalties accepted 53 of them came pre-snap, placing them third worst in the league.
While Koetter didn’t get into specifics on what the team was doing to combat penalties in a camp which is contact restrictive, it’s smart for the new head coach to get a jump on solving one of the team’s glaring problems.
Last season, the Buccaneers finished as one of the five most penalized teams in four different violations: Neutral Zone Infractions (1st), Illegal Use of Hands (3rd), Unnecessary Roughness (3rd), and Offensive Holding (4th).
Tampa was flagged the most for holding with 29 infractions followed by 19 false starts and 11 neutral zone infractions.
Improvement in any of these main areas will greatly improve the Bucs’ ability to get off the field defensively and sustain drives on offense, and the presence of officials in practices and training camps should show dividends, especially with young players like William Gholston who led the defense in penalties called against him. Four of those penalties were for Unnecessary Roughness which carries a 15-yard Personal Foul penalty and an automatic first-down for the opposing team.
The Buccaneers’ most penalized offensive player in 2015 was right tackle Gosder Cherilus who looks to have had his role reduced to a back-up as long as the starting five can stay healthy.
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Something to look for when the teams get into full situational practices is game management by quarterback Jameis Winston. While the team wasn’t the worst in the league by a long shot, the team was assessed six delay of game penalties (11th most in the NFL), and an improvement in that area should be an easy fix with practice and attention to detail.
As for the presence of officials at Bucs training, expect it to become a regular thing as Koetter stated,
“We’re going to have several opportunities to work with officials in training camp similar to this, and then when we work against both Jacksonville and Cleveland.”
As for its effectiveness, the coach continued, “I think our guys are responding to it, it’s never going to be perfect, but we’re working to get better.”