Over in this thread I laid out my early intentions of assessing the "harm" done by each penalty and coming up with a rating system.
I didn't explain it well there, but the intent is to fill a huge gap in penalty discussions. Current data supports some nice objective metrics like yards/count and the like, but the gap is one of context. In many discussions on penalties I keep seeing the same thought process play out over and over with no good answer...
Are the Bills shooting themselves in the foot worse than other teams?
This is usually some concept of "sure they have a lot of penalties, but which ones are backbreakers and which ones are boo-boos?"
Now then, I CAN go through the game logs at NFLpenalties.com, and give narrative reasoning and assessments of each penalties. However, this means a paragraph or so on EVERY penalty with the reasoning explained. Reasoning which might become repetitive. How many times does it take for me to say "that holding call on 1st and 10 didn't really hurt that much because they were already backed up on their own 2" before it becomes a waste of words?
Ideally, I could rate penalties, assign them a number and then do game recaps with a nice easy format rating penalties with this new metric. Narratives then could be saved to look at anomalies, or especially interesting penalties.
I proposed three types of harm and lean toward a cumulative approach of adding all three types together for each penalty.
For any newcomers, the three areas were:
- Points affected or changed due to penalty
- Distance lost (measured from spot before penalty compared to spot after)
- Opportunities given. What amounts to allowing an opponent's drive to continue by giving up a first down, or negating a takeaway by your team
- 0.1 units for every yard given up. This creates a maximum 9.9 points for yardage (a 99 yard DPI penalty for instance)
- 1 unit for every point on the scoreboard affected. After debate from the other thread, I have decided that this will ONLY be assessed during the play in which the penalty happened. I used a holding by Urbik against the Giants as an example. There was an actual TD on the play and it cleanly follows then that the penalty actually removed the points from the board. I am currently defaulting TDs to 7
- 1 unit for every down changed via penalty. So for instance, an automatic first down penalty is calculated based off the difference between the pre and post penalty downs. So giving a first on 4th down would be 4-1 or 3 units. Giving up a first down (DPI for instance) on a first down yields 0 units but would still calculate the yardage assessed. This will also be calculated for offense despite not mattering too often. Intentional grounding for instance though does yield a down change and would be assessed the 1 down difference of 1 unit
- Penalties that negate a takeaway will be assessed with a similar thought process as the last bullet. As they "cost" your team a full set of downs, it will be considered as a 4 unit assessment.
- E. Manning throws incomplete pass from NYG 38 on 2nd down (I had this wrong in the comments last time). Gilmore assessed DPI for 8 yards. 8 yards penalty + 0 yards affected by penalty + 1 down given + 0 points affected. This is 0.8 + 1 + 0 = 1.8 Units
- E. Manning incomplete pass at NYG 6 on 3rd down. L. Donnell false start assessed for 2 yards. Down replayed. 2 yards penalty + 0 yards affected by penalty + 0 Downs + 0 points = 0.2 Units
- Manning pass to D. Harris for 13 yard gain on 1st and 10 (NYG 44 to BUF 43). S. Vereen called for OPI for 10 yards. 10 penalty yards + 13 yards affected + 0 downs + 0 points = 2.3 Units
- Here's a fun one... J. Brown kicks 44 yard FG which is good on 4th and 2 from BUF 25. K. Williams called for illegal formation for 5 yards. 5 penalty yards + 0 yards affected by penalty + 3 downs - 3 points (yes that's a minus, as he erased 3 points). That's 0.5 +0 +3 -3 = 0.5 Units of harm
- T. Taylor from NYG 31 runs for TD on 1st down. K. Urbik called for holding and assessed for 10 yards. 10 Penalty yards + 31 yards affected by penalty + 0 downs + 7 points = 11.1 Units of harm