2013-in-review: Bears penalties

Each week, I’ll provide some statistical analysis from the 2013 Bears season for the other stats nerds out there who miss Bears football.

This week, let’s take a look at how disciplined the Bears were — in some areas — during the season.  

Overall, the Bears had 98 total penalties on the season, their fewest since recording 95 in 2008. Thirteen of those penalties were declined, and the Bears finished with the seventh-fewest charged penalties in the NFL.

“My biggest concern always as a head football coach is being a disciplined football team. That is No. 1. Discipline translates connectively to each and every phase of our football,” Marc Trestman said last week. “It’s about real estate. It’s about where the line of scrimmage starts. It’s about going downhill on an offensive drive or leaving an offense backed up on a defensive drive. And overall, we were very good discipline-wise in terms of penalties.”

Phil Emery singled out how disciplined the offensive line was, recording only 16 penalties compared to 38 in 2012. “To me, that is 22 less sacks,” he said.

Here are some other notes about the Bears’ penalties in 2013, with some thanks to NFLPenalties.com:

• The team finished with nine false starts, one fewer than the Giants, who led the league. It also matches the nine false starts the Bears had in 2001.

• The Bears had 20 holding penalties, 10 fewer than last season.

• They led the league with five horse-collar penalties. Charles Tillman had two.

• The four unnecessary roughness penalties were tied for second-fewest in the league, and keep in mind two of those were questionable late hits on quarterbacks by Julius Peppers (vs. Baltimore) and Shea McClellin (vs. Green Bay).

• Martellus Bennett led the team with seven charged penalties — three holdings, three false starts and one offensive pass interference.

• Rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills combined for only five penalties up front.

Trestman and Emery did mention the problem that the special-teams unit had in terms of its discipline. “The one area of concern of penalties for us overall was special teams,” Emery said.

• The Bears were penalized three times for being offside on a kickoff. Only nine teams in the NFL got penalized for that all year. One was Eric Weems on the attempted onside kick against Washington, and another could have been costly when Michael Ford was offside to start overtime against Baltimore. The Bears hadn’t received a single penalty for being offside on a kick since 2005.

• Of the Bears’ five penalties for illegal blocks above the waist, four of them occurred on kick returns. 

• According to the Chicago Tribune, 18 of the Bears' penalties came on special teams for 143 yards.

-Kevin Fishbain

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