The Oakland Raiders are notorious for many things: their lethal Black Hole territory at the Oakland Coliseum; their intimidating Silver & Black uniforms; their penchant for drafting track stars; and, unfortunately, committing penalties during games.
No matter what year it is, who their head coach is, or if they’re playing on the road or at home, the Raiders see more flags during a season than a United Nations assembly. So far, this season has been no different.
Despite a new head coach and a revamped confidence coming off a 8-8 record last season, the Raiders are back to their old habits, penalized for any—and everything—this year, ultimately costing them games that they cannot afford to lose.
Week 9's game against the Denver Broncos in Oakland was the Raiders’ latest example of flag football. Oakland earned a season-high 15 penalties, good for 130 yards. The 15 flags added to their league-leading total of 84—an astonishing average of 10.5 per game.
But, again, this is not new territory for the Silver & Black crew. Should the Raiders keep up their pace, they will not only top their current team record for penalties in a season (156 in 1884 and 1996), they’ll shatter the league record set in 1998 by the Kansas City Chiefs (158).
In doing so, Oakland will lead the league in penalties for the fourth time in the last nine seasons. More incredulous is that on those four different occasions—including this season—the Raiders have had four different head coaches.
There must be something about the Oakland Raiders; they simply can’t play football within the letters of the law. Much like a certain Hollywood starlet, the Raiders just don’t like following the rules, and they are always punished for their transgressions on the field (usually with an L in the loss column). It’s difficult to win ball games when your team accumulates that many penalties.
Coach Hue Jackson was steamed about his team’s recent performance. In his postgame press conference, he explained that the Raiders are not a very intelligent team at the moment.
Strong words coming from a man who just weeks ago proclaimed that the Raiders will indeed make the playoffs; telling words coming from a coach who boldly and brashly shook up his roster with the signings of veterans Carson Palmer and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
Though he does not lack confidence, Jackson is lacking explanation as to how his team can continue to trip over themselves and yellow penalty flags on the field.
Obviously the number of infractions is alarming, but, more grave is the instances of when they occur. On four occasions in Sunday’s game against the Broncos, the Raiders committed a penalty that gave Denver a first down.
Futher, all four were of the boneheaded variety: one roughing the passer, one roughing the place kicker, one face mask penalty, and one unnecessary roughness as the quarterback was out of bounds. Though they did not all lead to points on the board for Denver, what was lost during those drives was any and all defensive momentum, field position and time.
If the Raiders are to be taken seriously, they better clean up the overzealous behavior that causes them to make such demoralizing violations on the football field; particularly the defensive unit. The majority of post-whistle penalties occur on defense, so they need to right themselves during this tough stretch where they are transitioning with new player personnel.
If they don’t, the Raiders could suffer the worst penalty of all: missing the playoff for a ninth consecutive season. If that happens, they can only blame themselves for being penalized for boneheadedness.