A great deal went wrong with the Oakland Raiders in 2011, as new head coach Dennis Allen well knows.
He’s looked at the film, done his homework and seen the stats.
One problem area certainly raised red flags: all those yellow flags.
Oakland was the most penalized team in the NFL, with 163 infractions for an amazing 1,358 yards.
As Allen told reporters in May, “Our philosophy is that we want to be a tough, smart, disciplined football team. Everybody talks about the penalties here and that’s part of discipline. We’re going to teach that message day in and day out. If we can uphold that and become a disciplined football team we’re going to have a chance at success.”
This month, CBS Sports’ Pat Kirwan detailed just how bad the Raiders were across the board when it came to penalties in 2011.
On offense, the Raiders’ offensive line was flagged for more holding infractions per pass play than any team in the league, one for every 21.8 passes thrown. By contrast, the Green Bay Packers were the best in the league, getting flagged for holding just once every 78.8 passes. The league average was one for every 40.3 passes. Clearly, the Raiders have some work to do this training camp and preseason to cure this ill.
In addition, the Raiders secondary also was the worst in the league in committing pass interference penalties last season, getting flagged once every 33.3 pass attempts. The NFL average was one pass interference infraction per 63 pass plays.
The Raiders’ starting cornerbacks last season, Chris Johnson and Stanford Routt, have both been released and signed with other teams, so the cast in this year’s secondary will be different. That in itself may be a step forward.
But, as Kirwan notes, the Raiders’ penalty stats in 2011 were a huge failing. By cleaning up their act this season – being more “disciplined,” as Allen says – perhaps the Raiders can give themselves a better chance of winning close games.
Former head coach Hue Jackson kept harping on the issue last season and promising his team would address the issue, but it never did.
Down the stretch, when the Raiders still had a chance to make the playoffs, Oakland fell flat.
With a new head coach, new GM and some offseason housecleaning, perhaps the Raiders will finally play a cleaner game in 2012.
Writes Kirwan: “Oakland was 8-8 and suffered some significant injuries in 2011. Don’t be surprised if they clean up some of their penalty issues and stay healthy. They will be a factor in 2012.”