Undisciplined play, usually in the form of penalties, has been a major problem for the Raiders over the years.
In 2011, for example, the Raiders set NFL records for the most penalties and the most penalty yards in a single season. There’s a new regime running the show in Oakland after the death of Al Davis and they would like to eliminate those issues. That means focusing on cutting out the mistakes on the field that lead to yellow flags, obviously, but the Raiders are taking the focus on discipline even further.
“I mean, they’re real strict on discipline now as far as showing up to meetings (on time), they’re even making us check in for lunches and dinners now,” safety Tyvon Branch said, via Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. “We know that our discipline is what got us in trouble in the past,” Branch said. “That stuff trickles down on the field, and we need to cut down on the penalties if we want to be the team we want to be.”
There’s a lot of talk about changing cultures around football teams when new coaches or front office executives take over, but the challenge rarely seems greater than it does in Oakland. Davis had his hands in everything the team did for pretty much its entire existence, for better or worse, and unwinding that system isn’t something that can happen overnight.
Oakland seems to have settled on the best approach for fundamental change, though. Changing the atmosphere of meals and meetings might throw veterans like Branch, but new players will never know anything different when they get to Oakland and that should establish a new, more structured mode of operation around the team within a few years.
That doesn’t guarantee better results, but it certainly feels like a better approach than continuing down the same road and expecting different results.