NFC West Penalty Watch: Week 3

A weekly in-season look at penalty issues in the NFC West:

The Arizona Cardinals made reducing penalties a priority when Ken Whisenhunt took over as head coach in 2007.

Penalties were down for Arizona in 2009, but they're back up this season. Only the Oakland Raiders (37) and Dallas Cowboys (35) have committed more than the Cardinals (33) through three games, counting declined penalties.

In fact, only the Raiders have committed more penalties than Arizona -- 441 to 430 -- since Whisenhunt took over. Fifteen teams committed more penalties than Arizona from the 2001 through 2006 seasons.

The subject came to mind after officials ejected Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes from a Week 2 game against Atlanta for making contact with a game official. It was one of two personal fouls against Rhodes in the game.

Overall this season, officials have flagged Arizona five times for penalties labeled as unnecessary roughness, unsportsmanlike conduct or personal foul, according to data from Hank Gargiulo of ESPN Stats & Information. Only the Tennessee Titans (42) and Baltimore Ravens (39) have more.

The chart shows league-wide totals in these categories since 2007. More specific 15-yard penalties (roughing the passer, etc.) were excluded.

Seattle has fewer of these penalties than any team -- 10, or one fewer than the Cardinals had in 2008. Some of that has to do with the swagger and aggressive style Arizona has favored over the years.

Dirty Laundry