The Eagles beat the Panthers on Thursday night despite a major imbalance in the number of penalties called on the two teams.
Philly was flagged 10 times for 126 yards while the Panthers were penalized once for one yard, which was unusual enough that Eagles coach Doug Pederson was asked about whether the team would be looking for an explanation from the league this week. Pederson said they would go through the usual practice of asking for clarification on particular calls and he was then asked about a longer-lasting disparity in the way penalty flags are thrown when the Eagles play in games officiated by referee Pete Morelli’s crew.
As several people pointed out on social media in the wake of Thursday’s game, the Eagles have been penalized 40 times in the last four games featuring Morelli’s crew. Their opponents have been penalized eight times over that span.
“Well, I think the league is aware of it,” Pederson said in comments distributed by the team. “I’m not going to get into all of that. It’s just we have to do a better job. We have to coach it and not be — we can’t be getting these flags if they are flags. And then listen, a lot of them were legit. I am not saying they weren’t. A lot of the flags last night were legit calls. So, we’ve got to do a better job there. But, for whatever reason, it is what it is. But moving forward, we can’t worry about it. Bottom line is, we won the game. We figured out how to do that, and that’s the bottom line.”
A 5:1 ratio in penalties in one game might not look that out of whack, but it’s certainly curious to see such a gap over an extended period of time. While Pederson’s right to keep the focus on what his team can do better, it’s worth a look to see what’s gone on to create such a big disparity and whether anything can be done differently to avoid one in the future.