FLOWERY BRANCH – On their march to the NFC South title last season, the Falcons played near penalty-free football with just 58 penalties. The Falcons have incurred 27 infractions and been fined $47,500 by the league over the first quarter of the season.
They are on pace to register 108 penalties. Last season, Arizona was the seventh most penalized team with 108 penalties. The Oakland Raiders led the league with 148 infractions.
One of the Falcons’ trademarks under coach Mike Smith has been their ability to play solid, fundamentally-sound football and not shoot themselves in the foot with penalties. In addition to leading the league last season with the fewest penalties, they had the third fewest (71) penalties in 2008 and fourth fewest (78) in 2009.
Here’s what the Falcons are saying about their penalties . . .
CB DUNTA ROBINSON
We just have to be more conscious of it. In this league you can’t give teams opportunities. We just have to be more conscious of it. Just take care of our business. Penalties, most of them are mental mistakes. It’s a sign of not thinking in certain situations. We just have got to get that back. We don’t want to be a team that’s penalized. We have to do whatever we can to make sure we cut those penalties down.
DT PERIA JERRY
Everybody knows that we have a fast d-line so they are going to hard count us to slow us down. We just have to close out our ears and watch the ball.
LB SEAN WEATHERSPOON
It’s something that we want to change. It’s something the coaches have been talking about. I think it’s pretty much on special teams, it’s all about running. Like our coach Keith [Armstrong] says, if you’re running, you won’t be the guy getting the penalty or be the guy hitting somebody in the back. I think on defensive and offense you just have to be smart in certain situations. You have to be accountable to your
teammates. You don’t want to be that guy that gives up that big penalty that extends the drive. That’s something that we can learn from the previous weeks and get better.
Procedural penalties and those special teams penalties are usually spot fouls. They are a little bit more tougher. We have to be more accountable. I know I don’t want to be that guy that they are pointing to with the penalties. I take that into account and try not to be that guy. We’ve been emphasizing it for awhile. We look forward to cutting that number down.
RT TYSON CLABO
Focus. In my opinion we just have to really focus on our jobs. Part of our job is not to have procedural penalties. I don’t know what else can be done. That’s an individual thing. There is no amount of coaching in the world that can fix that.
LG JUSTIN BLALOCK
If you play aggressive football there will be times that you might get a flag or two. You can live with guys being aggressive. Procedural things, things of that nature, are things that you really can’t live with.
TE TONY GONZALEZ
It’s the pre-play penalties that you can tolerate. You can’t have them. When you are getting offsides or delay of game or something like that, those really hurt you.
We know we have to fix that because it affects the game. It really, really does. We have to be smarter than that.
WR RODDY WHITE
We just have to fix those things. We can’t jump offsides. Pre-snap penalties and stuff like that. We have to stay away from that. We are not a team that gets penalized. Over the last three years, we were in the top 10 for not getting penalized in the NFL. We have to cut back on the penalties and cut back on the turnovers and get a couple of more turnovers. We need to score when we do get them.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog