The Buffalo Bills hosted the Philadelphia Eagles and lost a one-sided affair. While there’s plenty of blame to go around on all sides of the ball, one area that was surprisingly not a catastrophe was penalties. Make sure to read all the way through as the first section will make it seem like I’m lying.
Standard and Advanced Metrics
This certainly suggests the Bills had a bad day, as they went a little over league average on both assessed flags and flags thrown. It also looks like they had a much worse day than the Eagles did, sitting at twice the amount of flags assessed. Just hang on a minute, though.
For trends, the league averages fell very slightly for the second week in a row. As is tradition, fan complaints and teams settling in lead to fewer flags as the season goes on. The Bills have the tenth-most flags this year, which if you recall my rule of four is usually high average. Sadly, most of the teams above them have played an extra game. At 8.43 penalties per game, only the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns have been worse.
Penalty yards are generally a better indicator of how rough a day was as not all flags are created equal. While the Eagles still have the edge, both teams are below average. The Bills are almost certainly within the range of normal, but they’re still sitting on the right side of it.
When factoring in yards negated by penalty, the Bills stay put. An extra nine yards on a relatively clean day has the Eagles nearly catching up.
With only six penalties this should be pretty quick. Especially when most don’t have compelling stories. A flag for running into the kicker and one of the illegal formation calls were both declined and result in zero harm.
Malcolm Jenkins was flagged twice on the same drive with only one play between the two penalties. Both the roughing call and the unnecessary roughness call were tacked onto the result of the play. The Bills successfully converted on both plays, meaning the flags were yardage only. The roughness call was reduced slightly as it was assessed at half the distance to the goal.
Zach Ertz was called for unnecessary roughness after Philadelphia’s successful two-point conversion. The yardage was assessed on the kickoff and didn’t impact the play it occurred on. Let’s check in as this was about as interesting as it got. It wasn’t egregious but a good call to keep control of the game (see below).
The other illegal formation call occurred on 2nd-and-11. A Carson Wentz pass to Dallas Goedert went for nine yards and was called back. The five yards assessed + nine yards negated comes to 1.4 Harm.
The cumulative harm for the Eagles came out to 5.7 Harm. Anything under 10.0 should be considered a pretty good day. The Eagles’ mark was the best penalty performance so far this year.
The Bills have a few more based on count, but none of those bars are shockingly high. There’s a ton of boo-boos as well. In addition to the two declined (ineligible downfield and one offside), false starts by Jon Feliciano, Ty Nsekhe, and Lee Smith were all assessed yards only. Offside calls against Trent Murphy and Shaq Lawson also were assessed yards only.
Lee Smith’s holding call wiped out a ten-yard gain on first down. The 20-yard total swing leads to 2.0 Harm. Smith was only outdone by Tre’Davious White and a defensive-pass-interference call. In addition to the seven yards called, White’s flag came on third down, giving two free downs to the Eagles for 2.7 Harm. Remarkably, this was the only flag for either team that affected downs.
Jon Feliciano’s unnecessary roughness call preceded the one by Ertz and was also following a score. Assessed after the Bills’ extra point, it too led merely to a different starting position for the ensuing kickoff. Also like Ertz’s, this is the most interesting one for the Bills as well, so let’s take a look.
Notice the number on the jersey. Feliciano is giving a little extra to Malcolm Jenkins. This penalty capped off the drive in which Jenkins was called for roughing the passer and his own unnecessary roughness flag. Both of those were hits to Josh Allen. It’s hard to be upset at this flag.
The Bills came in at 8.7 Harm, which isn’t a bad day at all. It’s their third game under 10.0, with both games in New Jersey having a slight advantage to this one.