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Laremy Tunsil’s 2017 False Start Penalties: A Case Study

One of the oft-cited drawbacks to Tunsil’s 2017 campaign was a proliferation of penalties, especially false starts. Let’s investigate each one and see what conclusions you draw.

NFL: Miami Dolphins-Training Camp Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Pre-snap penalties are the equivalent of going to check your kid’s diaper only to discover poo is on your finger because it’s already up their back. Pre-snap penalties stunt drives and put you farther behind the down-and-distance demon, and the Miami Dolphins simply had too many poor down-and-distance situations.

It’s understandable that Laremy Tunsil’s 8 false start penalties are an area of concern. I believe Laremy Tunsil possesses a high ceiling, but you want your stalwart, blind-side protector to not make as many mental mistakes.

However, I’m the type that likes to roll up their sleeves and look at something for myself. In an interdependent sport like football, nothing is ever as simple as it seems. The sample size was small enough that it wasn’t too time-consuming to collect the tape. Shall we take a look? Let me know your thoughts on each play in the Comments Section!

The Tape

This is clearly on Laremy Tunsil. We know we’d go on to win this game, but you don’t like to have your 2nd play on offense be a pre-snap penalty.

3rd play on offense. This false start is attributed to Laremy Tunsil, but you can clearly see Mike Pouncey with the ball in his hand. That’s a snap count issue and not on Tunsil. In other words, if anyone mentions that he had 8 false start penalties, you already know it’s actually 7.

There’s a few weird things that happen on this play. Jermon Bushrod sees the nickel blitz, and looks like to me, to make a false start. BUT, if you argue Bushrod had his head turned and was just settling down in his stance, then you can argue that the Atlanta Falcons jumped offsides. Either scenario, I don’t really see Tunsil do anything here. On my personal scoresheet, that’s already 2 false starts that ought not be attributed to Tunsil and we’ve only seen 3 plays.

Blatant. This is 100% Tunsil. 1st play of the game, too.

Another one vs. Baltimore Ravens. A head scratcher, and 100% on Tunsil.

This one was pretty close, but the right call was made in my opinion.

I don’t really see him do much here, but he must’ve rocked back a little bit more than this camera angle suggests. The body language of those around it suggest to me it was a justified penalty. Pre-snap penalties in the red zone make me sad.

Another slight false start, but a false start nonetheless. He clearly breaks his stance before his OL compatriots, but Tunsil is aggressive getting outside quickly to negate speed rushers and sometimes it backfires. It’s also possible he expected the snap when the center pops his head up. You’ll notice the center pops his head up, but then dips his head back down again and an ever-so-slight pause before hiking, which may have been the difference between a good snap and a false start.


Sooooo, it’s not 8 false start penalties, but 6 in my opinion. Perhaps we could have a nuanced discussion and you could convince me to whittle down to 5. You still don’t like to see your left tackle get 5 or 6 false starts, but it’s not 8 either.

We reduced the total by 25% just by looking at the plays ourselves. Yet, that’s not to discount that the refs may have missed a penalty for Tunsil as well. If you happen to hear a fervent fan lamenting how Tunsil had 8 false start penalties, you know to take it with a grain of salt at the very least.

Two other tidbits: a majority of the false starts occurred on the road, and 3 penalties in the 1st 3 plays of the game (although the snap count thing vs. the New York Jets should not be on Tunsil). Hopefully his 2nd year in the league at left tackle will reduce the early game jitters, especially away from Hard Rock Stadium.

Did I miss anything? Let me know what you think down below!