As Wade Phillips once explained, penalties don't necessarily have a correlation with winning and losing.
A good pass protector often is called for false start because he gets a quick step off the line to stop a rushing defensive lineman. Likewise, a great pass rusher might be prone to more offside flags.
That was the case for DeMarcus Ware in 2011. The 10 fouls that were called against him this year tied left tackle Doug Free for the team lead. Of those, eight were of these offside of neutral zone infraction variety, a career high for Ware. Only one was declined.
Of course, Ware also had his second-best season in terms of sacks, registering 19.5. The year he had 20.0 sacks, 2008, was also his previous most-penalized year, when he was flagged for being offside seven times.
Ware was 0ffside more than any of the league's premier pass rushers this year. Minnesota's Jared Allen, who led the league with 22.0 sacks, only had two fouls of the neutral zone or encroachment type. Jason Babin of Philadelphia, who finished third with 18.0 sacks, actually had 13 total penalties called against him, seven for jumping offside.
The Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul (16.5 sacks) only had one encroachment called against him, and San Francisco rookie Aldon Smith (14.0) was only flagged for offside once. Terrell Suggs of Baltimore tied Smith for fifth in sacks, and jumped offside four times.
So, the Wade Phillips penalty theorem doesn't necessarily hold up. None of the offside calls against Ware gave the opposing offense a first down, but they each created better down and distance situations.
It's probably nitpicking, but as Jason Garrett puts it, everyone on the Cowboys has to get better. There's no harm in looking for ways even the best players can improve. For Ware, one way might be getting caught offside less often.
The Cowboys' 114 penalties in 2011 ranked fifth in the league.