Penalties can be overcome, often aren't

As the Texans prepared to face the Denver Broncos last week, interim head coach Wade Phillips noted that although he's focused on eliminating Houston's penalties, they can be overcome.

He used the Broncos as an example.

He's right. Denver is tied for fourth in the NFL with 109 penalties. But it takes extraordinary circumstances, such as having one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game or a transcendent secondary.

Among the 11 teams with the most penalties this season -- including the Texans, who have committed 107 -- nine have at least seven losses. The other two are the Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks.

Seattle has committed more penalties than any other team, followed by the Oakland Raiders (4-11), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11) and St. Louis Rams (7-8).

When Phillips took over as interim head coach, the Texans were coming off a game in which they tied a franchise record with 14 penalties against the Jaguars. They lost 177 yards on said penalties.

You'll recall when Phillips took over as interim head coach, he brought in Big 12 officials to call penalties during practice. Those who committed them were put in "timeouts" to try and shame them out of doing so. In the Texans' first game after trying that tactic, they committed another 14 penalties.

Last week, Houston committed only four penalties. It was among the lowest total in the league, though it's hard to attribute that to anything in particular given the small sample size.

When you talk about what went wrong this season for the Texans, the reasons are plentiful. Though fewer penalties might not have cured every issue, flags certainly contributed to the mess that became 2013.