The Philadelphia Eagles had a disturbing trend of third-down penalties in 2011 that kept their opponent’s drive alive. So far through two preseason games in 2012, that trend has continued.
Against Pittsburgh, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie committed a killer penalty when he launched himself at Byron Leftwich to make a tackle. It was 3rd and 16 and the pass had fallen incomplete.
However, instead of punting the ball away, the penalty gave the Steelers a first down and they ended up scoring a touchdown on the drive.
Against New England, it happened not only once, but twice…on the same drive!
The Patriots had a killer 13-play, 80-yard drive resulting in a touchdown that was aided by two third-down penalties on the defense.
The first one, on 3rd and 7, negated an interception by DRC. The penalty on this play, though, was a very ticky-tack call by the ref. Fletcher Cox was called for a late hit on the QB but it was in no way vicious or excessive…it was more like a follow-through tackle.
Regardless, the refs could very well make that same call all year.
The next one was a defensive holding call on Nnamdi Asomugha that killed a third-down sack by Trent Cole.
So again, instead of punting or getting that interception, the two penalties gave the Patriots new life that ultimately resulted in seven points.
As I detailed extensively earlier this summer right here, this is how the Eagles’ penalties shaped up last year:
- Had the 11th most penalties in the NFL with 107. The only two teams with more than that who made the playoffs were Detroit and San Francisco.
- Out of the 107 penalties, 52 were on the defensive side
- They were in the top two for the most off-sides and roughing-the-passer penalties (signs of an aggressive or undisciplined defense?)
- They ranked 17th in the NFL in penalty yardage differential with a -40 (they were penalized 40 more yards than their opponents)
Out of the Eagles’ 52 penalties on the defensive side of the ball, 12 came on third down. That equates to 23%, or almost one-fourth of the unit’s total penalties.
Out of those 12 third-down penalties, eight of them ended up with the opponent scoring.
So far through two preseason games this year, the Eagles’ defense has a total of seven penalties. Three of them have come on third-down, or roughly 43%.
Out of the three penalties on third-down, 100% of them led to points for the opponent.
Obviously, this is just the first two games of the preseason so sloppy play is somewhat expected. However, just like Vick and injuries, it appears to be part of an ongoing trend with this team.
And it’s something that needs to stop, quickly.