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A closer look at the Rams penalty problems

The Rams struggled with penalties again this season. But the kind of penalties they struggled with say more about the team than the numbers do.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Bernie Miklasz did a thorough job fisking the St. Louis Rams and their complete lack of discipline on Monday morning, following all-talk, no-action loss to the Seahawks to finish the season.

Teams that can't finish the season at .500 should probably start by concentrating on mastering the fundamentals of the game instead of shooting themselves in the foot. There's not much more to add to what Bernie said. Instead, I thought we'd dive into the penalty numbers the Rams posted this season, since it turned out to be their most notable numbers.

The Rams finished the season with 143 penalties. Only 19 of those were declined. The good news, I guess, is that those 143 penalties are seven fewer than the Rams had last year. All together, it's the highest number of penalties among all 32 NFL teams over the last two years.

The most frequently occurring penalties for the Rams last season were (number of incidents): Holding (31), false start (25), defensive offsides (13) & neutral zone infraction (11).

For 2013, the most frequently occurring penalties were: Unnecessary roughness (18), offensive holding (14), false start (14), and defensive offsides (14).

The good news is that they cut down on stuff like holding and false starts, part of the improved offensive line play this season. The bad news is that they found other, more costly ways of taking penalties.

Those 18 unnecessary roughness penalties led the NFL.

St. Louis was called for unnecessary roughness in nine games. They were 4-5 in those outings. In games with multiple unnecessary roughness penalties the Rams were 1-4.

Eugene Sims had three unnecessary roughness penalties; Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Cortland Finnegan each had two, not bad for a pair of players who didn't even play for a full season. Also, all three of those guys are experienced veterans.

The Rams had five personal fouls penalties this season, three more than last season. They were 1-3 in four games where they incurred a personal foul.

They had five unsportsmanlike conduct penalties this season, four came in Sunday's loss to Seattle.

This season's most penalized Rams player was Janoris Jenkins, who collected 12 flags in his sophomore season for a total of 121 penalty yards. He got flagged six time for pass interference.

Eugene Sims and Chris Long tied for second place with 10 flags apiece. Trumaine Johnson and Kendall Langford had nine penalties each. Ray-Ray Armstrong had eight, Brandon McGee seven and Cortland Finnegan had 6. Harvey Dahl and Jake Long had five penalties each, the only offensive players among the top ten.

Of the ten most-penalized players, only two were rookies, which makes it hard to chalk up to inexperience.

The Rams lost a total of 1,024 yards to penalties this season. By comparison, they only rushed for 1,752 yards and threw for 3,125 yards.