Raiders fans rejoice! In just two weeks into the 2013 NFL season, the Silver and Black are showing signs, early seedlings if you will, that they are a more disciplined team this campaign. Through two games against the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars, respectively, the Oakland Raiders have tallied 13 penalties. Not exactly saintly, but it is not horrible either and is actually a whole ten penalties fewer than league leaders Tampa Bay Bucaneers and the San Francisco 49ers. While this may seem insignificant to many, it is huge for the Raiders who have been league leaders in penalties for several seasons making this is a welcomed change in the second year of the Reggie McKenzie era.
When we delve into the meat of this early total, a few things stick out. At only 81 yards accrued, the Raiders have not been responsible for egregious personal foul penalties that swing the pendulum of a game’s most critical moments. All we need to watch is the 49ers performance on Sunday night against the Seattle Seahawks to see why acting like petulant children is never beneficial. So far this season the Raiders have not been frustrated to the point where they let their tempers fly. They suffered a nervy loss to the Colts and beat the Jaguars in their home opener. Monday night against the rampaging Denver Broncos could change that, especially if Peyton Manning continues his current aerial annihilation.
Back to right now. Although the Raiders have not committed penalties that significantly shorten the field for opponents, they are not impervious to criticism. 10 out of the 13 penalties this season have occurred prior to the snap, six of which were on the offense. Delay of games, illegal formations, false starts; these are the type of penalties that should be avoidable. When yellow flags fly based on poor execution and mental errors, our blood boils as a fan and the drive suffers. Fortunately right now these errors have not been in abundance. On the flip side, they have been for Khalif Barnes, go figure. The offensive lineman who, I’ll admit has shown signs of improvement this season with protecting Terrelle Pryor, should still be evaluated in context. He can still regress back to his old habits of incompetence and currently leads the team with three penalties: an illegal formation, holding, and one false start.
After 120 minutes of football, it is an encouraging sign that Dennis Allen and the Raiders coaching staff have stressed and executed mistake free play. When those little yellow flags pile up into a canary behemoth, it can ruin a drive, a game, and if it is truly monstrous, an entire season. Let’s continue to watch how this season develops on this front. Monday night against the Broncos in Denver will be a massive test of execution and temperament for the Raiders and keeping those aspects in a positive light, will be an essential piece of a multi pronged puzzle needed to upend the NFL’s hottest team.
Follow Jeremy on Twitter @jermg11