The Raiders lead the league in penalties.
They’re on pace to shatter the single season record.
The Raiders’ defense now has a total of 17 personal fouls. The most defensive personal fouls since the merger is 19 by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1998. There are 6 games left to play.
But why are the Raiders consistently among the league leaders in penalties?
They obviously commit more penalties than other teams right?
The players are undisciplined and the coaches do not stress playing within the rules, right?
OK, let’s examine the whole penalty thing.
The Raiders have been at or near the top in penalties virtually every year, but the players and coaches have changed so frequently that the “undisciplined players and coaching” argument just does not hold water.
This argument makes even less sense when you look at the last (lost) decade of Raider football when players and coaches have been turning over at an alarming rate. Do these penalty-prone players and coaches somehow gravitate to the Raiders? Do the Raiders just continue to acquire players that are more apt to commit penalties? Hire coaches that don’t care or don’t coach discipline?
How can it be the environment when the environment changes so often?
All those reasons just don’t make sense.
Common sense tells us that there’s something wrong here.
I’m a mathematics major, but you don’t have to be one to see that there’s a pattern there. It seems pretty clear that regardless of the players they sign or the coaches they hire, the Raiders are just getting called for penalties more often than other teams.
It may not be an outright anti-Raider conspiracy, but it definitely appears to be a tendency of the officials. If there’s a doubt that it was a penalty, are they more likely to call it against the Raiders? Are borderline calls going against the Raiders? Is it psychological? Do their reputations precede them? Do some officials have the idea in their mind that the Raiders are the villains and if they succeed, they must be cheating?
The answer is probably yes in many of these cases.
Last Sunday’s game against the Vikings was particularly atrocious. Two Vikings’ scores were basically driven by Raider penalties. One drive had three, almost consecutive, highly questionable personal fouls called against the Raiders.
First, a roughing the passer call on DT Tommy Kelly, a hit against a defenseless receiver by LB Aaron Curry, and a face mask on S Tyvon Branch. Kelly was actually being held and took down the QB with one arm which the official called because he thought the arm grazed the QB’s helmet (or something). Curry’s hit was legal and after a completion. There was no defenseless receiver. He caught the ball and got smacked. Lastly, the Branch facemask simply never happened.
On another Viking possession, DE Desmond Bryant was whistled for a late hit, which he could have avoided only if he could have frozen himself in the air as the whistle blew.
Coach Hue Jackson was so frustrated after the Minnesota game that he took the chance of getting a fine from the NFL by commenting on it. Oddly enough, Coach Jackson has had officials in on Raider practices to clean things up and it seems to be worse than ever.
I had a Twitter exchange with sports writer Jerry McDonald where I asked him:
@Jerrymcd still haven’t heard a good explanation for Raiders leading league in penalties every year with different coaching staffs, players.
His sarcastic reply:
@xristos Easy. Because they commit the most penalties.
Do they commit the most penalties? Or do they simply get called for the most penalties?
I think the facts and statistics emphatically show us that the latter is true.
Sometimes, I think the only way to prove that there is a bias is if someone that the media loves, like Bill Belichick or Bill Parcells, comes to coach the Raiders to a year of league-leading penalties.
Never mind the common sense.