The Oakland Raiders are, and always have been, one of the NFL’s most penalized teams. It seems like any time the opposing team throws an incomplete pass on third and long, a yellow flag gets tossed into the air. This is part and parcel of being a Raiders fan- expecting the refs to insert themselves into the games they officiate with malice towards the Silver and Black.
The Raiders in 2017 were 25th in the league in penalty yardage per game with 63.1 yards lost to flags on average. The Seahawks were worst in the league at a whopping 83.9 yards per game.
But as far as individual Raiders being responsible for a multitude of penalty yards goes, it’s not so egregious. According to this piece from sportsfacts.org, the Raiders have only two players on top of the lists for penalty yardage at their positions for the 2017 season. And they’re not who you might think.
Oakland wide receiver Johnny Holton was the leading wide receiver in the NFL in penalty yardage, racking up seven penalties for 65 yards on the season. And Raiders kicker Giorgio Tavecchio led all kickers with one penalty for a whopping five yards. Whoa, slow down there, Giorgio! Clearly, Tavecchio’s penchant for playing outside the rules was a key factor in the Raiders bringing in former Florida Gators kicker Eddy Piniero to challenge for the starting job.
Other players of interest who led in penalty yardage are the Chargers’ Philip Rivers, who somehow managed to collect 13 penalties for 101 yards in 2017. That’s one penalty yard for each of his kids.
The biggest offender on the list is Saints defensive back Ken Crawley, who amassed a staggering 169 penalty yards on nine penalties. Cincinnati’s Dre Kirkpatrick was close behind with 155 yards on only seven penalties. You’ll be surprised to know that no Oakland defensive back was on the list, and in fact no Raider defender was tops at their position.
On the offensive side of the ball, the worst was Seattle’s offensive tackle Germain Ifedi, who has made a career out of holding and false starts. He was flagged 16 times for 120 yards in 2017. Almost as bad was Denver rookie lineman Garret Bolles, who was showered with laundry 12 times for 106 penalty yards. Maybe quarterback isn’t the problem in Denver after all!
We’ll see in 2018 whether Jon Gruden’s staff can further reduce costly penalties and keep this list free of Raiders in the future.