Peter King noted yesterday that former first-rounder Alex Barron, who is being traded from the Rams to the Cowboys this week, was flagged for 43 false starts in his five NFL seasons. To put that in perspective I crunched some numbers.
In terms of Expected Points (EP), Barron's false starts were responsible for the loss of 24.4 potential points for the Rams, or about 5 points per season. In terms of Win Probability (WP), his false starts cost 0.62 wins, or about 0.12 wins per season.
Barron's numbers are in line with league-wide averages in terms of cost per false start. Since 2000 there have been 7,478 false starts costing a total of 3,880 EP, for an average of about half a point per flag. In terms of WP, false starts cost a total 97.4 wins for an average of 0.013 WP per flag.
During the 5-year span of Barron's career, the Rams committed a total of 171 false starts, which means he was responsible for a full quarter of them. By far his worst season was 2006 in which his false starts cost about 9 EP. Barron has improved, as his last two seasons have been his best (or 'least worst' I suppose). His flinches have cost about 3 EP in both 2008 and 2009.
There's no doubt that's very costly, but even the most focused offensive lineman can be expected to have at least an occasional false start. Still, 43 must be some kind of record!