I'll have a post or two later this week on the all-22 from the season finale against the Jaguars, then we'll probably be starting our normal offseason positional analyses. Before that, though, I have a data dump-type post or two I want to run, and I'll start with the one today on penalties.
Were the Titans a heavily-penalized team or one not hurt very much by penalties in 2012? It seems like it should be an obvious question to answer one way or the other, but it's kind of both. On the one hand, the Titans were flagged 135 times for penalties, and their 106 accepted penalties against ranked them in the top ten in the NFL in that category. They were clearly a far cry from the almost amazingly flag-resistant Falcons, who had a mere 55 penalties accepted against them last year. Then again, the Falcons were an extreme outlier, ranking first by an amazing 17 penalties. Despite their nominal ranking of tenth, the Titans were nearly as close to the Vikings, who had the fourth-fewest penalties, than the Ravens, who had the second-most.
On the other hand, all those penalties didn't hurt the Titans that much, especially comparatively speaking. Though they ranked tenth in penalties against, they only ranked eighteenth in penalty yardage at 847 yards. True, that's more than double the yardage of the extreme outlier Falcons, but it's also nowhere close to the Ravens, who had 1,127 yards in penalties, or the Steelers, who averaged more than 10 yards per penalty against. The better ranking in penalty yardage implies the Titans committed relatively fewer long penalties, especially long pass interference penalties, than did other teams. While teams didn't get those free yards, though, they did get plenty of extra chances to stop the Titans on offense or gain yards on a Titans defense. On the whole, I would say that even though yardage wasn't a big issue, those extra chances against bad units hurt the Titans.
To get a better idea of just what type of penalties hurt the Titans in 2012, I'll go through position group by position group.