In today’s NFL, every team understands how it feels to be penalized more than their fair share. There is often extensive debate over the degree to which officiating should intrude on the physical nature of the game. But no matter what anybody says, the rules are the rules, and the Browns must abide by them as every other team does.
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The first two weeks of the year weren’t bad in the penalty category for Cleveland, but issues in this department returned in Week 3. Most of these penalties are overlooked due to the insignificant feel they have. Is a five-yard false start or delay of game really a big deal? How about an offsides or illegal contact? For many, it is just a nuance that slows down the excitement of the game.
But to the Browns, it is much more. The issues with penalties on both sides of the ball must be addressed, or else possessions will continue to be derailed at an alarming rate. Last week, the team committed 13 penalties that cost them a total of 91 yards. Five of these were on right tackle Austin Pasztor for either flinching before the snap or holding. Unfortunately, this has become too much of a staple for Cleveland’s offensive line, as they seem to ruin drive after drive by going backward more than forward.
Defensively, the problem remains. Illegal contact penalties in the secondary only cost a team five yards, but it also ensures the opposition a first down. The Browns’ secondary is especially vulnerable to this due to their inexperience. Regardless, the unit must emphasize discipline. Mistakes will be made, but playing a clean game on both sides of the ball is still attainable. If this is accomplished, the Browns will take a key step in notching their first victory of 2016.