Anytime you’re declared the best at something there is a certain amount of pride that comes with the honor. Unless that honor isn’t anything to be proud of…like…I don’t know…setting the NFL’s single season record for penalties and penalty yards.
Well, that is exactly where the 2011 Oakland Raiders stand. 4 flags and 11 penalty yards away from standing alone in the record book.
What began with Tom Cable has continued with Hue Jackson. Both coaches share a large portion of the credit for the culture change in the East Bay. However both coaches also continued a trend that began long ago.
Everywhere the silver and black go to play a friendly game of football yellow flags seem to follow.
Coach Jackson proclaimed early on that his mission was to change the bad habit but that clearly hasn’t taken effect this year. Perhaps next season.
Be it some conspiracy theory or just bad play the continued penalization of the Oakland Raiders is staggering. I’m sure Jackson has berated his players plenty so enforcement can’t be the issue. The defensive players took it upon themselves to start a swear jar of sorts for penalties. Currently $7,800 sits in the pot with the promise of more to come.
What is it going to take to change this problem?
First, let’s address the conspiracy theories out there. To be sure there is some truth in all the wild speculation. Some teams just draw the focus of the league unlike others. The Raiders aren’t alone in this, just ask the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Throughout this season we’ve seen plenty of questionable calls that you feel are geared towards singling out the Raiders. A couple instances that come to mind revolve around Aaron Curry. An athletic and aggressive defender Curry seems to always walk the line. However a couple calls stand out. One was a personal foul against the Vikings in which Curry was said to have hit a defenseless receiver. One problem. The supposed defenseless receiver was actually turning to run up field. Since when is that defenseless? I guess we can chalk that up to some of the new flag football rules invading the NFL.
However a call last week in Kansas City was very troubling.
Curry again was in the middle of the stir as he was called for a delay of game. What did he do? Curry thought a Chief had fumbled so he picked up the ball and began to run the opposite direction and continued to do so after the whistle was blown. I’ve seen something similar occur at least once in every NFL game I’ve ever watched and never seen a delay of game called.
Questionable calls for sure.
Now on the other side of the fence are pre-snap penalties. For these there is no need for a conspiracy theory. These are the flags that are indisputable.
False starts, illegal formations, neutral zone infractions, the list goes on and on. All of these are caused by a lack of focus. This is all about the coaching staff.
Again, how do the Raiders go about correcting these issues?
Step one is admitting there is a problem. But that has been done over and over. So step two has got to be keeping a level head and remaining focused in the heat of battle.
Certain franchises are targets. That is just the way it is. Therefore it is on the players and coaches to make sure they’re not giving the officials added reason to reach for their back pockets 10+ times a game.
Coach Jackson gets a lot of credit for what he’s done in just two years on the job. However now that he’s one year deep into head coaching it is time to figure out a way to solve this issue. If the Raiders are going to win another Lombardi then they’ll have to stop being their own worst enemies. This was the absolute worst record to break during a breakthrough year.