St. Louis Rams penalty problems starting to add up

Brian Bahr

Jeff Fisher's team is getting way too many flags these days, and it's giving opponents a decided advantage.

On Monday afternoon, Jeff Fisher will deliver his usual post-game press conference. The St. Louis Rams head coach will talk about the tie game in San Francisco on Sunday, update the media on injuries and probably will say something about all the penalties his team is incurring lately. I hope.

Playing more disciplined football ranks as one of the most frequently cited talking points in the NFL. Only "better execution" gets more mentions from players and coaches struggling to find something to say. Disciplined football has been a priority for the Rams since Week 1, but Fisher's team has yet to find its way to a more controlled game.

On Sunday, the Rams drew a season high 13 flags from the officials, one was declined, including a call in overtime that erased what should have been the game-winning drive. The 49ers gained an extra 85 yards on flags. Those penalties nullified a grand total of 142 yards for the Rams, most notably Danny Amendola's 80-yard reception on the first play of overtime.

The Rams have drawn a total of 84 penalties this season. Add it up, and those flags have given opponents an extra 573 yards. Penalties have nullified 226 yards for the Rams, with Sunday's overtime call being the most costly to date.

Balance that out with what the Rams' opponents are getting in penalty yards. Of the nine teams the Rams have faced, those opponents have drawn a total of 53 penalties for a total of 436 yards.

Against Washington, the Rams benefited from the Redskins' 11 penalties. No other opponent has drawn more than eight.

Unfortunately for Fisher's squad, the problem is actually getting worse. Over the Rams' last four games, the team has incurred 43 penalties. That's just ten less flags than the Rams' opponents have gotten all season. During that same four-game stretch, opponents have been penalized just 23 times. The Rams are 0-3-1 during that same period.

Offensive holding and false starts are the main problem, accounting for 31 of the team's penalties. Barry Richardson, who has been the Rams starting right tackle since Week 1, has five penalties, three false starts and two holding calls, which is the most among offensive linemen. Recently added Shelley Smith has already picked up four flags, which can probably be attributed in part to joining the team so late.

Sam Bradford leads the team with seven penalties, five of those have been for delay of game. Why is this happening? Is there a miscommunication with the sidelines on the play clock? Crowd noise? Each call is probably tells a different story, but it all points to problem that needs to be fixed.

I named a few names, but the Rams' penalty problems can't be laid on any single player, not when the team is picking up flags by the dozen. Fisher's one of the smartest, most well-prepared coaches in the NFL. His teams are known for playing at a high level.

Penalties happen, and teams can win even when the group ends up on the high side of the ledger. Unfortunately for the Rams, the high number of penalties are giving opponents a distinct advantage, and time and again that results in a loss ... or a tie. It's time to get this problem fixed.

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