Perhaps the most significant of this NFL season’s many taunting penalties happened in the fourth quarter on Thursday night, when Philadelphia’s Genard Avery gave up 15 yards and an automatic first down for taunting Leonard Fournette. That gave the Bucs their initial first down in what turned into a six-minute game-ending drive.
Many observers thought Avery shouldn’t have been flagged, but Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said he’s not putting it on the officials. Instead, Sirianni says he needs to do a better job coaching players not to put themselves in a position where they even give the officials a chance to flag them for taunting.
“That’s first on me,” Sirianni said. “I’ve got to do a better job of cleaning up all those things. We know we can’t make those self-inflicted wounds. I know that, they know that, we’ll continue to harp on that, we’ll continue to work to get it right. But again, that was unacceptable, and that falls on me first. So I’ve got to do a better job of getting everybody doing the right things out there, and keeping our composure out there.”
Right or wrong, the NFL’s taunting emphasis has been made very clear to every player and coach in the league, and at this point, players need to know not to say or do anything that an official might flag. Privately, Sirianni probably had some harsh words for Avery, but Sirianni is also acknowledging publicly that it’s up to the coach to make sure his players don’t make such mental mistakes.