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Focus: Raiders’ 2013 penalty breakdown highlights improvements, areas to improve

The Raiders are through 7 of their 16 games and I was interested in finding out how they are doing with penalties, which has long been in issue in Oakland.

Looking at the overall numbers, we see some positive trends:
-2012 penalties: 109 for 939 for the year. 6.81 per game for 58.69 yards per game
-2011 penalties: 163 for 1358 for the year, 10.19 per game, 84.88 yards per game
-2010 penalties: 148 for 1279 for the year, 9.25 per game, 79.94 yards per game
-2009 penalties: 117 for 920 yards for the year. 7.31 for 57.5 yards per game

-To date, 2013: 2013 penalties: 50 for 375 yards tota. 7.14/game for 53.57 yards per game

Noting that some of the teams haven’t had a bye week yet, here is the penalty information at a high level and I will dive in for a closer look, below:

-Raiders are tied for 16th with 50 penalties through week 8. Leader is NYJ  with 68
-Raiders are 22nd in yards penalized with 375 total. Leader is Seattle with 582
-Half of Raiders penalties (25 of 50) are pre-snap penalties, both offensive and defensive. That’s T-4th in the league.
– Through 7 weeks, they are 2nd in the league in presnap penalties (25)

Now, taking into account what teams have had bye weeks versus the teams that have not:
-The Raiders are tied for 8th most penalties per game at 7.14 flags/game
They are 21st in league in penalty yards per game with only 53.57 yards/game

Here is how the Raiders’ penalties break down:
30 of 50 on offense
18 of 30 offensive penalties are pre-snap
8 of the 18 were False Start penalties
7 of the 18 were Delay of game
2 of the 18 were Illegal Formation
1 of the 18 was 12 men on the field.

Other offensive:
7 offensive holding
3 offensive pass interference
1 illegal forward pass
1 illegal touch pass

20 of 50 on defense
7 of 20 defensive penalties are pre-snap
Biggest offenders are:
7 defensive holding
4 defensive pass interference
2 defensive holding
2 neutral zone infraction
1 encroachment

Most flagged Raiders players:
8 penalties:
Khalif Barnes (4 false starts, 3 holding, 1 illegal formation)

6 penalties:
Terrelle Pryor (all delay of game)

4 penalties:
Mike Jenkins
Mychal Rivera
Jeron Mastrud
Lamarr Houston

3 penalties:
Mike Brisiel

2 penalties:
DJ Hayden
Marcel Reece
Denarius Moore
Jason Hunter
Tracy Porter
Sio Moore

1 penalty:
Stefan Wisniewski
Tyvon Branch
Chimdi Chekwa
Taiwan Jones
Brandian Ross
Kevin Burnett
Pat Sims
Andre Gurode
Matt McCants
Kaelin Burnett
Tony Pashos (1 false start)
Lamar Mady
Marquette King

Looking at the Raiders’ penalties, by game:
-The most penalties in a game was vs KC, flagged 11 times but only for 68 yards.
-The most penalty yards was vs SD, 85 total yards.
-The lowest penalized game both flags and yards was vs Washington, flagged 4 times for only 25 yards.

Raiders’ opponents have been flagged only 33 times, 3rd lowest. Raiders have only had 232 yards from those penalties, lowest earned in the league:
-Opponents highest game in both penalties and yards was Jacksonville, flagged 10 times for 70 yards.
-No other opponent has been flagged more than 5 times or more than 40 yards in a game with three opponents, Indianapolis, Washington and Pittsburgh, all being flagged only 3 times.
-The game the Raiders benefitted least from penalties was vs Pittsburgh, when the Steelers were flagged only 3 times for 12 total yards.

What do I make of this?
Good question! There are a few conclusions I draw from this data.

First, the Raiders are trending in the right direction. At this point, they are projecting to finish slightly higher this year versus last year in penalty flags by the end of the season but they are projecting to finish with only 857 penalty yards, which would be the lowest number they’ve achieved in many years. Putting that into perspective, 857 penalty yards would rank right around 18th in the NFL using last year’s final numbers.

Second, many of the penalties are easily fixable. The delay of game penalties, for example, should start falling off as Pryor gets more comfortable being behind center and getting his team organized in the huddle and ready to play the next snap.

The biggest offender, Khalif Barnes, is a necessary piece this year but if he’s still a starter next year, something has gone very wrong with the Raiders’ offseason plan to acquire more talent at the offensive tackle position.

Finally, the improvement under Dennis Allen is impressive and it speaks to his coaching teams’ focus on reducing penalties and playing the game the right way and it speaks to GM Reggie McKenzie finding players who, by and large, are playing disciplined, fundamental football – especially on defense.


For more Raiders thoughts and analysis, follow me on Twitter @AsherMathews