Who says there’s no good news where the Raiders are concerned?
Either the NFL felt sorry for Al Davis and didn’t hold its annual “screw the Raiders” offseason meeting with officials this year or Tom Cable actually has an area where he can look at and have solid evidence of progress.
Through seven games, the Raiders have 41 penalties for 312 yards, tied for 12th in penalties and 21st in yardage. This is usually an area where the Raiders lord over the rest of the league like Rod Carew in a 1970s race to a batting title.
Projected through 16 games, the Raiders would 94 penalties for a scant 713 yards at the end of the season.
The Raiders have had 100 penalties or more in each of the last nine seasons, since having only 98 in 1999. They’ve had more than 800 yards in penalties in each of those yards and have marched backward for more than 1,000 yards in every season from 2002 through 2005. (Yes, 2002. Good teams overcome penalites).
If the Raiders were to stay in their current range of penalty yardage, it would be the lowest total since 1990, when they had 97 penalties for only 682 yards.
Their high-water mark for flags since returning to Oakland was 1996 (156 penalties, 1,266 yards _ if only they could find a running back with that kind of production).
In a 38-0 loss to the Jets, the Raiders had only three penalties for 41 yards.
Cable wasn’t about to wear a party hat, given the won-loss record and the fact that all three penalties were costly.
“That is something we are excited about, we are not giving away yards, but it’s just one area and we have to improve in a few areas,” Cable said.
The bad news is the Raiders still know how to get quality out of a penalty even if the quantity is down.
On the opening kickoff, tight end Brandon Myers was called for an illegal block below the waist, pushing the Raiders half-the-distance to the goal and starting at the 10-yard line instead of the 20.
Cable decided not to alter the script of sending four receivers on vertical routes despite being backed up, and the result was a lost fumble by JaMarcus Russell after being hit by Calvin Pace. The Jets eventually scored on a 1-yard run by Thomas Jones.
(Tackle Khalif Barnes was called for tripping on Pace’s sack, but it was declined).
With the Jets leading 14-0 and driving to the Oakland 39-yard line, Mark Sanchez threw incomplete on third down, but the Jets picked up the first down when Stanford Routt was called for defensive holding and an automatic first down. New York eventually scored on an 8-yard run by Shonn Greene.
The final flag came when Richard Seymour gave New York a first down on a third-and-4 play with a personal foul inside the 10-yard line. No reason to pull your hair out over that one _ the Raiders got a break when Jay Feeley missed a short field goal attempt.