Oakland Raiders

Raiders ‘disciplined’ despite setting NFL record for penalties

Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio argues a call on the sideline during overtime of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, in Tampa, Fla.
Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio argues a call on the sideline during overtime of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. The Associated Press

Not only did the Raiders’ defense get flagged twice on one drive Sunday for having 12 men on the field, coach Jack Del Rio said, at one point his team tried to stop the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with 10.

“Talked with (defensive coordinator) Kenny (Norton Jr.) today,” Del Rio said Monday. “We’re going to see if we can go ahead and play with 11 all the time.”

Del Rio could joke about it after his team set an NFL record for penalties Sunday but won 30-24 in overtime at Tampa Bay. The Raiders were flagged 23 times for 200 yards – excluding four penalties that were declined or offset. But they improved to 6-2, their best start since 2001.

“I thought we earned some, and I thought some were questionable,” Del Rio said about the flags, “but what I like about our guys is we’re resilient. … (Sunday) we dealt with a large number of infractions that we don’t want to see but fought our way through it and came home with a win.”

163 Raiders’ league-record penalty total in 2011

The Raiders’ offense accounted for 15 penalties, the defense for seven and special teams for one. Calls were all over the map, including four flags for holding, four for unnecessary roughness, two for illegal formations, two for pass interference, two false starts, one taunting penalty and a delay of game.

Several were particularly costly. An offensive pass-interference call on Michael Crabtree nullified a Derek Carr touchdown pass in the second quarter. The defense committed both 12-men penalties on third and 1, prolonging a fourth-quarter Tampa Bay drive that ended in a touchdown. In overtime, two penalties deep in Buccaneers territory backed up the offense, and Sebastian Janikowski missed a 52-yard field-goal attempt.

“We’re not going to dwell on it,” Del Rio said. “We’re not going to spend any more time than is necessary to make the corrections, and then we move on.”

I know the truth. I know what it really is. We are a disciplined team. It may take awhile for others to recognize that. But we’re going to play hard, we’re going to be tough, we’re going to play smart, and we’re going to be disciplined.

Jack Del Rio, Raiders coach

The Raiders have a reputation for being undisciplined, having set the record for penalties in a season with 163 in 2011 under coach Hue Jackson.

Del Rio, however, does not. In his last full year as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ coach in 2010, the Jaguars committed just 83 penalties, seventh-fewest in the NFL.

This year’s Raiders are at 86 through eight games – the most in the league and 20 more than the second-highest total shared by the Jaguars and Washington Redskins. Yet Del Rio did not seem alarmed by those numbers Monday.

“It’s because I coach discipline,” he said. “And we’re a disciplined team. Because I know that, and because I know we coach it and stress it and I know our guys buy into it, I’m not going to overreact to circumstances that might indicate otherwise.

“I know the truth. I know what it really is. We are a disciplined team. It may take awhile for others to recognize that. But we’re going to play hard, we’re going to be tough, we’re going to play smart, and we’re going to be disciplined.”

Del Rio did specifically address two of the penalty categories. One was the two illegal formation penalties called on rookie tight end Vadal Alexander. Both times, Del Rio said, the Raiders felt Alexander correctly signaled he was lining up as eligible.

“We feel very good about those young men that have gone in to play the tight end position doing what they need to do,” Del Rio said. “So the illegal formation call, we don’t agree with what was called.”

There was no arguing the error of twice having 12 defenders on the field on third-and-1 plays late in the game. And Del Rio did not hide his displeasure at those mistakes.

“Our ability to exchange personnel and be in the groupings we’re calling for did not get executed the way it needs to,” he said. “That’s something you do at all levels of football. Heck, coaches at Hayward High are doing that. So we’ve got to be able to handle that, and we expect to do that better.”

Et cetera – Del Rio did not have an update on cornerback Sean Smith, who sustained a shoulder injury in the first quarter. He did commend David Amerson, who matched up primarily with Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans after Smith’s exit, on doing a “nice job.” The Raiders sent frequent double teams at Evans, who had four catches for 50 yards.

▪ Cornerbacks D.J. Hayden and T.J. Carrie also were pressed into playing more snaps. With the Raiders doubling Evans, Del Rio said, “Those other guys were left one-on-one a lot, and I thought they did a nice job covering their guys.”

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