There are ways to rationalize the Jets' 2017 totals of 119 penalties marked off for 1,035 yards. It was a franchise aberration. The totals were high but didn't lead the NFL. Penalties have been up league-wide the past four seasons. The Seahawks led all teams in yellow flags in 2013 and '14, then went to two Super Bowls and won one.
Those are not arguments Todd Bowles wants to hear.
"You don't write it off at all — you address it," the Jets head coach told reporters at the NFL owners' meetings in Orlando this week. "And there's a lot of things I have planned to address it, as soon as they get back in the building. But it was a big deal."
The Jets' penalty and yardage totals were both fifth in the league last season. Both numbers were also the team's highest since the 1995 team was flagged 121 times for 1,078 yards.
Bowles emphasized the issue last season and progress was made in the second half. Buster Skrine had a team-high 13 penalties (11 accepted) but only two came in the six games after the bye. Morris Claiborne had nine flags but only two in the last seven games. Teamwise the Jets reduced penalties walked off against them from 8.1 per game pre-bye to 6.3 post-bye.
But Bowles wants even better numbers in 2018.
"There are no factors, there's no specific person," he said. "We just can't have 'em. You can't have 'em at certain times. We have to be more aware of where we are on the field, where the next person is. Whether it's an offensive holding or a DPI, we've got to be better than that. Penalties hold us back. They hold us back from getting off the field, from continuing drives. So we know we've got to get better than that."
Football coaches since the leather helmet days have tried different methods to reduce penalties. Todd wasn't tipping his hand about how he's planning to do it, but he's definitely got a few ideas.
"We have some things in place that we're going to start when they get back about addressing those things," from the start of the offseason program next month, he said. "And that'll continue throughout the year.
"I wouldn't call it punishment. There are just certain things we'll do to make sure we get our penalties under control."