Raiders' Jackson talks to league about penalties
For a franchise known for its propensity to commit penalties, the Oakland Raiders are reaching new highs - or maybe it is lows - this season.
And that has coach Hue Jackson fuming - not just at the guilty players but also at the referees.
Jackson talked to league officials on Monday, a day after he said calls against his team in a 27-21 win at Minnesota were unfair, complained that he could not get explanations of calls from referee Jerome Boger's crew and said he didn't ''even know what football is right now'' with the way some personal fouls were called.
''Obviously after yesterday I've probably reached my boiling point,'' Jackson said Monday.
After spending most of his first season as Raiders coach refusing to criticize officials publicly, Jackson snapped after the latest game that included four personal fouls, including three on one touchdown drive by Minnesota in the first quarter.
''All I ask is that when people deal with our football team, that it's done fairly,'' Jackson said. ''Now across the league everyone says everything is fair, and I'm not saying that it's not. But yesterday it was one game that I felt very uncomfortable with what had happened. I was able to address it today. I said what I said yesterday and felt very strongly about and still feel strongly about it today. But I'm going to move on from that because that does me no good, our football team no good.''
Jackson said he did not expect to get fined for his comments and the league would address the complaints publicly. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said coaches can call head of officiating Carl Johnson for explanations of any calls and that the league looked forward to answering Jackson's questions.
The latest penalty spree started on a first quarter drive when defensive tackle Tommy Kelly was called for a blow to quarterback Christian Ponder's head on a sack that would have forced a punt. Linebacker Aaron Curry then received 15 yards for what the officials called roughing a defenseless receiver on a completion to Kyle Rudolph and safety Tyvon Branch was whistled for a facemask on Percy Harvin.
Defensive lineman Desmond Bryant was later called for unnecessary roughness in the fourth quarter.
The Raiders have already committed 17 defensive personal fouls this season - more than double the total of 29 teams and the most in the league since the Chiefs had 19 in 1998.
''The thing about it is football is a game full of personal fouls,'' said Curry, who has three in just five games with Oakland. ''They're all personal. It all depends on whether a referee decides to throw his flag or not. Every hit we make, they're all borderline.''
Oakland finished the game with 12 penalties for 117 yards. That keeps the Raiders on a record-setting pace. At this rate, Oakland would finish the season with 164 penalties for 1,427 yards - surpassing the totals of 158 for 1,304 yards by Kansas City in 1998.
Jackson vowed at the beginning of the season to solve the penalty woes. He has had officials at most practices to try to curtail the infractions and the players have instituted fines for some penalties. They're still happening, so now Jackson is taking a different tack.
''At the end of the day, we still need to get better at doing what we do, but on top of that I just want to make sure that just because we do need to get better in some areas people aren't saying, `OK, let's have a great day throwing this flag today because there's the Raiders out here,''' Jackson said. ''I think it's been addressed and we'll go forward.''
In years past, penalties played a role in the Raiders' struggles. Oakland has committed at least 100 penalties every year since 2000, including during a run of eight straight seasons without a winning record.
So far, the Raiders (6-4) have been able to overcome the penalties and are in first place in the AFC West.
''We've got better players than we had in the past,'' Kelly said. ''I've been around here eight years so I pretty much know what we've had in this locker room and we have better players. But we're also making the job a lot harder than we have to. We say that to ourselves a lot on the sideline. But in the end all you've got to do is win the game.''
Notes: K Sebastian Janikowski is still hampered by an injured left hamstring and had a 49-yard FG attempt blocked. ... WR Darrius Heyward-Bey was feeling better a day after being carted off the field with his neck stabilized after a scary collision with Minnesota linebacker E.J. Henderson. ... Jackson said he would not know the status of running back Darren McFadden and receiver Jacoby Ford until later in the week. Both players have been sidelined by a sprained foot.