The Raiders know better than most teams the cost of penalties. But what of the gain from drawing a penalty? Often times it can be just as valuable to draw penalties as it is to make a play. Many times, the result is as good or better. Teams have been gaining advantages over the Raiders for years due to their penchant for penalties.
Two seasons ago the Raiders set a new record for penalties and yards. But last year, they turned the tables and now they have a player on each side of the ball among those who have drawn the largest percentage of penalties in the league according to a study conducted by Pro Football Focus.
On the offensive side of the ball, it was rookie wide receiver, Rod Streater who drew 7 penalties on 405 routes run. That is a penalty on 1.73% of his routes run which is 16th in the league. And no one in the NFL drew more flags than Streater with as few routes run.
On the defensive side of the ball, it was Lamarr Houston and his breakout season who landed among the most penalties draw in the NFL. He drew 8 penalties on 878 snaps which was seventh best in the league in penalty drawn percentage. There were only three defensive players to draw more total penalties. See the whole list here.
For a receiver, drawing a penalty is usually an automatic first down because it's usually holding, or pass interference. They can be a spot foul which is just as good as a catch. A receiver has to be a handful if the defensive back feels the need to get a handful of his jersey to keep from being burnt.
By the same token, a pass rusher like Houston will cause an offensive tackle to either jump in fear of getting beaten or hold him once he knows he's been beaten just to try and keep his quarterback from being killed. In either case, it is almost as good as making a play. The only difference is the offense gets to repeat the down. But it still means marching back 5-10 yards.
With some of the offensive tackles the Raiders have had in recent years, they know all too well the damage that can be caused by a false start or holding. The false starts always seem to come in third and short and the holding penalties always seem to negate a big play. Then there's the defensive pass interference penalties which were a regular occurrence with players like Stanford Routt.
It is nice to see the Raiders on the other end of the flag thrown spectrum. It didn't result in more wins last season but it could pay off. After all, we have seen for quite some time that having the most penalties isn't working. Drawing them instead might just be the way to go.