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The Miami Dolphins Were Top 5 In...Penalties?

No easy way to put it, the Miami Dolphins have to help the zebras keep the yellow in their pocket.

Houston Texans v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

This is not a narrative on the “celebration” penalties that Adam Gase has already addressed at the meetings in Phoenix:

“That was bad when we’re watching the celebration tape and we’re on there like five times for the taunting and I’m going, ‘God this is not good.'” Gase said Tuesday. “Everybody’s probably looking at me like we’re the most undisciplined team in football.”

This story is (mostly) about all the others.

No matter how you slice it, the Miami Dolphins were in the top 5 in penalties: 5th in penalties per game, 3rd in penalties per play. But just like the box scores, you have to dig past the surface.

Let’s play some Dolphins penalty trivia:

  • The position group that had the most penalties? The secondary (38 - Maxwell [8...5 of them being pass interference calls] and McCain [6...3 PI calls]).
  • The player with the most penalties? Ja’Wuan James (12...8 holding calls).
  • Miami was tied for the 6th best team at: not having false starts (.88/game)
  • Miami led the league in: taunting (4), encroachment (9...more than twice the 2nd most flagged team...Jordan Phillips had 5 of the 9 encroachment penalties, which would have led the league all by himself), unsportsmanlike conduct (8).
  • Miami was 2nd in the league in: neutral zone infractions (9).
  • Miami was 3rd in the league in: facemasks (6).
  • Miami was 6th in the league in: illegal contact (6).
  • Of all 8 of the accepted penalties by Ndamukong Suh, all of them were pre-snap.
  • The secondary accounted for more than 25% of Miami’s penalty yardage, and Miami had the 7th most defensive “passing penalties” (holding + PI + illegal contact + roughing the passer) in the NFL.
  • Tight ends only accounted for 3 penalties all year.
  • The Dolphins had 22 pre-snap penalties on offense (15 false starts, 2 illegal formation, 2 illegal shift, 2 delay of games, 1 illegal motion).
  • Between 2012-2016, only Ryan Fitzpatrick has more roughing the passer penalties called against him than Ryan Tannehill.

This was not meant as an exposé, but rather a sharing of raw data. There are many conclusions to draw, and all data is meant to be considered in context. What do we make of all this information?

In my opinion, the main conclusion to draw is that Miami has way too many pre-snap penalties on offense and defense. On defense, we simply committed too many penalties overall between the DL and secondary.

Oh, and by the way, the New England Patriots were the least penalized team in the NFL in 2016. I’ll show myself out.

(All raw data courtesy of