Penalties and missed tackles run deep

You can say that Saturday night's game between the Dallas Cowboys is only exhibition game but for the Raiders, they need to use tonight to stop the same old mistakes from last season -- and years before -- recurring.

Those same problems existed when the Oakland Raiders reached the Super Bowl in 2002. They just were not costly. Heck, penalties were a problem when Jon Gruden coached the team from 1998-2001. He curbed that problem to a certain degree but only to the point where the Raiders didn‘t lead the universe in penalties.

The Raiders, truthfully, had more good than bad take place in a 33-30 win over the San Francisco 49ers. The Raiders, however, saw two very annoying habits from last year's 4-12 season take place -- penalties and missed tackles. Granted, the new 5-yard rule with receivers and defensive backs will take time getting used to but it does not connect with things like personal fouls and not knowing the snap count.

"Between Week 1 and Week 2 in the preseason you get a chance to clean up a lot of things," First-year Raiders head coach Norv Turner said. "It doesn't matter who we're playing. We're still so concerned about ourselves. We have to eliminate the penalties we had, those silly penalties. We have to tackle better. Offensively, there are some plays we missed that we need to make."

Last season, the Raiders were penalized 134 times for 1120 yards and were a terrible tackling team on the way to becoming the third worst defense in the NFL against the run. In the win over the 49ers, the Raiders were penalized 21 times and missed seven tackles on the opening drive alone.

Oakland players have raved throughout training camp about new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's ability to confuse offenses along with his aggressive scheme. There has also been positive reviews about new special teams coach Joe Avezzano's schemes. Then again, both units had far too many missed tackles against San Francisco and need to address it now. You have the greatest scheme in the world but if you don't secure tackles, it matters none.

Again, one can say that Saturday is only an exhibition but the fact that thee problems have been there for the last couple of years is all the more reason to address it now because it's easier to fix now than midway through the season.

It's one thing to have these problems happen in a 4-12 season but these same problems took place in 2002 when the Raiders reached the Super Bowl. The Raiders had over 1,000 yards in penalties that season but that team was so good it could get away with it. Oakland's tackling that year left something to be desired as well. It's just that the problem never got exposed because the team frequently got big leads early and forced teams to play from behind.

This Raider team might be better than last year but they're not good enough to get away with constant penalties and missed tackles against good opponents.

Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com


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