Since head coach Mike Smith took over the Falcons in 2008, the team has consistently been one of the least-penalized teams in the NFL. Despite the 4-12 record in 2013, that didn’t change much.
The Falcons were penalized 91 times in 2013, the second-highest mark under Smith. In 2011, they were flagged 96 times, still good enough for tenth in the NFL. This season’s penalty total was No. 9 among the least-penalized teams. Those tenth- and ninth-place finishes are the lowest the Falcons have ever been under Smith, a pretty impressive feat considering they still rank the Falcons among the top third in the league.
The Falcons have finished No. 1 in the NFL twice, in 2012 (60) and 2010 (65).
The 2013 finish is surprising because at times during the season, it seemed like the Falcons were drawing flags at a record-breaking rate, but in the end, they remain one of the least-penalized teams in the league. If you’re looking for positives moving forward into 2014, penalties is one place to start. It’s even more impressive when you consider the Falcons led the league in rookie snaps in 2013.
The Falcons averaged 5.7 penalties per game in 2013, up from 3.3 in 2012. The primary offenders in penalties were false starts (19) and offensive holding (16). There were 10 unnecessary roughness penalties and eight defensive pass interference penalties. While rookie corners Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford took big steps toward becoming key players on Atlanta’s defense, they did garner many of the pass interference penalties. Six of those penalties went to Trufant (4) and Alford (2), not bad numbers for rookies playing a ton of snaps.
Trufant, who had one of the top seasons as a defensive rookie, didn’t draw a pass interference call after Week 11.