Raiders need to police themselves on penalties


The trend was, oh too disturbing for the Oakland Raiders in Sunday's 25-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

            For all the good things Oakland did – there were enough flags for a Fourth of July party. Well, penalty flags. Both teams combined for 29 infractions for 291 yards. Oakland was hit for 18 penalties for 180 yards. That's nearly two football fields of going backward for those scoring at home.

            Some people may attribute coaching, and of course the NFL conspiracy theory against the Raiders, for their constant penalties. The former is a simplistic view at best and hallow at worst.

The 1951 Cleveland Browns held the record for penalty yardage in a game (209) until 1999 when Tennessee recorded 212 infraction yards against Baltimore. What's the point might you ask? That Browns team was one of the best in NFL history and won four straight championships in the All America Football Conference.

Many people regard Paul Brown as the best pro football coach ever, regardless of era. But he couldn't prevent the Browns from setting the penalty record. To make another assessment, Tennessee head coach Jeff Fisher is considered a leader who commands respect and discipline but not even he could keep the Titans, who reached the Super Bowl that season, from racking up penalty yardage.

            It's not as if the Raiders did not look to address that problem in training camp after having 129 infractions for 1,094 yards last season in reaching their first Super Bowl since the 1983 season. There were several measures taken to help reduce the penalties. One example was players doing pushups after committing false starts.

            As for those who attribute penalties to the "Raider conspiracy," some may be controversial but when a team commits nearly two-football fields worth of penalties, at some point you can't blame outside forces.

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