Under former head coach Jim Schwartz, the Detroit Lions gained notoriety for being a “dirty” team. They ranked in the bottom three in penalties per game in both 2010 and 2011.
However, under Jim Caldwell, the Lions have taken on a completely different persona. They are now generally regarded as a level-headed team that keeps its emotions in check. In fact, the team has sometimes come under fire for being too calm and not showing enough fire on the field.
However, SportsFacts.org put together the “All-Penalty Team” based on the players who received the most penalties during the 2016 season and two Lions players made the team: cornerback Nevin Lawson and receiver Anquan Boldin.
Both of these players are actually unfairly on this list, but for two different reasons. Lawson not only made the list, but by penalty yardage, he was the most penalized player in the league with 134 yards. This is extremely misleading, however, because in Week 3, Lawson was tagged with the longest penalty in at least 30 years. That 66-yard penalty accounts for nearly half of Lawson’s penalty yardage, and the NFL even told Lions coaches that the call was wrong.
Take away that long penalty, and Lawson was only flagged five times for 68 yards. To put that in perspective, Johnson Bademosi was called for six penalties for 68 yards. That is still the most on the Lions, but it’s not even in the top 20 among defensive backs league-wide.
As for Anquan Boldin, his inclusion on this list should be met with pause because it includes the postseason. Boldin was tagged for two personal foul penalties in Detroit’s Wild Card matchup against the Seattle Seahawks, and while he absolutely deserved those calls, it’s not exactly fair to include them considering more than half of the teams in the NFL didn’t play in a postseason game. During the regular season, Boldin had six penalties for 58 yards. Granted, that still would have placed him among the top five in the NFL.
Overall, however, the Lions remain one of the most disciplined teams when it comes to penalties. During the regular season, the Lions had the ninth-fewest penalties enforced on them (100) and the fourth-fewest among all NFL Playoff teams.