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Year One Under Jonathan Gannon Saw Penalty Improvement

Cardinals had significant drop in pre-snap flags

Back in October, Jonathan Gannon got philosophical about his view on penalties.

"Things that we've been getting called for we want to try to clean up, but penalties, you guys know how I am," Gannon said. "They kind of come and they go. It's kind of like takeaways and bang-bang plays. We educate our guys on the refs in what they like to call and the volume that they call them with, but each game is kind of a separate entity.

"There are certain penalties that you can't have. I call those non-negotiables and we've done a good job with the non-negotiables since Week 1. That's something that has to stay consistent. You can't plug in one hole and then another hole opens up, so we've got to keep doing a good job with that. It falls on the coaches first."

The "non-negotiables" would include pre-snap penalties and post-whistle personal fouls. Gannon's first year showed improvement in that area, with the Cardinals flagged 33 times pre-snap, tied for the Rams for 21st in the NFL (First would be the most flags). That's compared to the 52 pre-snap penalties the Cardinals had in 2022, the most in the league. 

Overall, the Cardinals had 101 accepted penalties (of 115 flags, which was 17th), which was tied with the 49ers for 11th most in the league at 5.9. By comparison, the Cardinals were at 6.9 in 2022, 6.7 in 2021, and 7.1 in 2020. In 2020, they had the most overall penalties; in 2022, they had the most accepted penalties. 

Not surprisingly, given the nature of their positions, starting tackles Paris Johnson and D.J. Humphries notched the most flags. Johnson had 11 flags, seven of which were accepted. Humphries was flagged 10 times, with nine accepted. (The duo was flagged 12 times for holding; by comparison, the starting tackles of the Super Bowl-bound Chiefs were flagged 15 times for holding.)

Cornerback Antonio Hamilton was the most penalized defensive player, with seven.

Interestingly, the one place that didn't see improvement was in "stalled drives" -- which happens when no points were scored on a drive and no first down was achieved following a penalty. The Cardinals had 37 this season, compared to the 38 in 2022. (They only had 22 in 2021, a playoff season).

Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Jonathan Gannon during the Week 17 regular season game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Dec 31, 2023 in Philadelphia, PA.