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Making sense of Raiders '12 men on the field' penalties

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Unravelling the Mystery of the 12th Man (twice) against the Buccaneers.

In previous games, the Raiders run defense has struggled against 3 TE run plays (ie., 13 Personnel). At times they seemed confused as to how to line up and what their gap assignments were. Since then these problems have been notably improved.

Against the 3 TE sets, the Raiders played their Base defense and looked the same as against a 2 TE set. Three down interior linemen (often in a Bear front) with Mack and Irvin outside and 2 ILBs, 2 CBs, and 2 Safeties.

In this game, the Buccaneers were primarily an 11 Personnel running team, meaning they ran from 3 WR sets, often from shotgun. Raiders were generally in their Nickel (5 defensive backs) subpackage.

When Tampa Bay ran from out of a 2 TE set (12 Personnel) a few times, the Raiders lined up in their Base defense. 3 Linemen, 4 LBs, 4 DBs.

Except there was one play in the 1st quarter when the Buccaneers lined up in 12 Personnel BUT they used Tackle Gosder Cherilus as a Tackle Eligible player.

With TB in 12 Personnel with Cherilus in, the Raiders went to a heavy front with 4 linemen, 4 LBs, 2 CBs, and only 1 safety (Nelson).

2-10-TB 37 (13:27) G.Cherilus reported in as eligible. A.Smith left end pushed ob at TB 43 for 6 yards (D.Hayden).

With TB having an extra offensive tackle in, the Raiders defense brings in an extra defensive tackle so that now Justin Ellis and Dan Williams are both on the field and Latham and Autry are also both still playing as defensive linemen.

Safety Karl Joseph goes off to make room for Williams.

This sets up a 4-4-3 defense with the OLBs Bruce and Khalil lined up on the LOS, giving a 6-2 look.

End Zone View

Autry is lined up at the weakside 3 technique with Jelly on the Nose (0 Tech) and Bruce Irvin in a standup 5. Dan Williams, Darius Latham, and Khalil Mack are covering each of the strongside blockers.

Over the course of the game, Tampa Bay did not use Goser Cherilus as an Extra Tackle until the 4th quarter when they were in 3rd-and-short.

On 3rd-and-1, TB uses 13 Personnel with Gosder Cherilus as an extra tackle. This Personnel group is 1 RB, 3 TEs (including Cherilus) and only 1 WR. It's a heavy, short yardage group and formation.

Here's how they line up and how the Raiders' defense responded.

3-1-TB 45 (7:44) G.Cherilus reported in as eligible. No Play. PENALTY on OAK, Defensive 12 On-field, 5 yards, enforced at TB 45

Tampa Bay takes out a WR and replaces him with a TE who lines up in the backfield as a FB.

The Raiders bring in Dan Williams again and have a similar frontline as before.

But this time Karl Joseph does not leave the field, so the Raiders now have 4 DL, 4 LBs, 2 CBs, and 2 S = 12 players.

End zone view :

From the endzone view, the defensive line's alignment is similar to before (slightly differing by half a technique position, though). Still, Center, weakside tackle, Strongside tackle, and both TEs are covered.

This appears to be designed and planned for the Tackle Eligible, 2 TE formation.

Video :

Later in the same drive, the Buccaneers once again faced 3rd-and-short. Once again they brought in their short yarage package which included the extra tackle Gosder Cherilus.

Here's how that looked.

3-1-OAK 12 (5:26) G.Cherilus reported in as eligible. No Play. PENALTY on OAK, Defensive 12 On-field, 5 yards, enforced at OAK 12

Again, the Raiders bring in extra DT Dan Williams but again Karl Joseph does not leave the field.

End zone view

Video :

It certainly appears in both of these cases that Karl is not quite sure where he is supposed to be lined up.

Formation-wise, the defense needs to have outside coverage for outside containment on runs as well as coverage for releasing receivers. If the outside TE were to try to run a quick flat pattern or a quick wheel route, there must be a player to cover him.

Personnel-wise, it can make sense to play with an extra safety instead of a cornerback against run personnel. 13 Personnel seems like a better fit for playing with 2 safeties rather than 2 CBs. In practice, Ken Norton has opted against that this year, most notably in games against Tennessee and Kansas City.

This could be because Karl has not learned the responsibilities of playing in that position or that he has not been worked into those packages. It may also have been because Tennessee features Delanie Walker and KC features Travis Kelce, both of whom are flex TEs with wide receiver skills.

While it is certainly possible in this game that Karl was to stay on the field and that DJ Hayden was to go off, it does seem unlikely.

The most frustrating part of this sequence is that after the first time, the mistake was not corrected so that it repeated itself in another crucial moment. Unfortunately at that point, the Bucs were driving and the focus was on getting the defense set for the next play. In the middle of a drive like that there's not a quiet moment to correct the player unless either calling a timeout or taking him off the field for a play.

And if the player himself does not realize it, he's bound to make the same mistake again.

It definitely makes most sense that the rookie would have made the error. With his work ethic and seeming high coachability, expect him to not err again like this.

There's an old saying  "Expect one loss in a season for each rookie that starts."  Little things like this is the reason for that sentiment.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but cue the "Young Players, Young Defense, Growing Pains"-mantra.