Penalties hurting Washington

ASHBURN, Va. -- The problem isn’t that the Washington Redskins have been issued 17 penalties. It’s that when they’re not doing anything else right, those penalties become magnified.

Washington committed seven penalties for 78 yards in Sunday’s 38-20 loss to the Packers. The Redskins do not lead the NFL in penalties, though only four teams have been issued more. And it’s not as if penalties equal bad teams, especially when you consider those ahead of Washington are Detroit (19), Denver (21), Seattle (19) and San Francisco (23). The last three teams are considered Super Bowl contenders.

“You always want to be disciplined,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “A lot of times a team plays extremely hard and you have unnecessary penalties because of aggression. You want to keep your poise. Baltimore had a lot of penalties and they won the Super Bowl.”

Baltimore ranked 31st in penalties last season, averaging 7.5 per game. Washington was 28th at 7.0 per game. And four of the bottom eight teams in 2012, in terms of penalties, reached the postseason (with Seattle and San Francisco being the other two).

However, the Redskins had an opportunistic defense and an explosive offense in 2012. Right now, both units are struggling. So the penalties stand out more, especially when four of them occur on special teams -- and two are for 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct calls against long snapper Nick Sundberg and gunner Niles Paul.

“We’re going to work on that to eliminate those silly mistakes,” Shanahan said. “You don’t want to beat yourself.”