Monday, January 02, 2012

Santonio or Antonio?

Steelers MVP Antonio Brown
Do you think the New York Jets would take a fifth-round draft choice for Santonio Holmes about now?  That's what the Jets sent to the Steelers for Holmes two years ago. The Steelers then flipped that fifth-round choice to Arizona for Bryant McFadden.

The Cardinals used the draft choice to select quarterback John Skelton (out of Fordham). 

So, maybe the question should be: Do you think the Jets would accept a trade of John Skelton for Santonio Holmes? Given the recent performance of Mark Sanchez, yeah, probably. Trouble is, the Cardinals probably wouldn't go for it.

Holmes, a Super Bowl MVP for the Steelers, can be an amazing and great receiver, but it's funny how NFL observers now are saying the Steelers knew what they were doing when they got rid of hm -- and, more to the point, how Pittsburgh seems not to miss him, not with the emergence of team MVP Antonio Brown, who was much, much more productive than Holmes this year. So, yeah, we're pretty happy with how things have worked out, and we'd rather have Antonio than Santonio.

On another front, columnist Joe Posnanski offers an awesome breakdown of the Oakland Raiders' All-Time Penalties Record and how they attained it this year. Picking up his column about halfway through ... (after the "Read More" jump, below):

"... The Raiders, of course, have a grand history of penalties. They showed a Top 10 list of the most penalized teams ever during the Raiders-Chargers game Sunday and I believe six or seven of the Top 10 were Raiders. I can't find that list, but I can find the Top 5:

Most penalties:
1. 2011 Raiders: 163
2. 1998 Chiefs: 158
3. 1994 Raiders 156
(tie) 1996 Raiders 156
5. 1989 Oilers 149

So that's three of the top five. The Raiders have now led the league (AFL or NFL) in most penalties 13 times*. But the point for many of those years is that the Raiders WANTED to lead the league in penalties or at least be near the top. This was Al Davis' way. He wanted his Raiders to play on the edge. To him, penalties were like speeding tickets -- the price you had to pay to get someplace fast.

*This is actually NOT the record. Papa Halas' Chicago Bears led the NFL in penalties FIFTEEN times, including six years in a row.

Well, of course, Al Davis died this past year, and so you might look at this NFL record as an homage to him. But I'm not sure that's really true. I'm not sure that these penalties were really in the spirit of Al Davis and playing on the edge … I think they were more in the spirit of, "Huh?" 

I have broken down the Raiders penalties for posterity -- my own homage to Al Davis.

The Raiders committed:
-- 29 offensive holding penalties
-- 26 defensive offsides or neutral zone infractions
-- 23 personal fouls of various kinds
-- 21 false starts of various kinds including one on a free kick
-- 12 defensive holds
-- 12 pass interferences
-- 10 delay of game penalties
-- 7 illegal contacts
-- 4 facemasks
-- 3 illegal blocks of various kinds
-- 3 illegal formations of various kinds
-- 2 ineligible passes
-- 2 special teams out of bounds penalties
-- 2 12 men on the field penalties*
-- 1 intentional grounding
-- 1 offensive pass interference
-- 1 illegal use of hands
-- 1 illegal substitution
-- 1 running into the kicker
-- 1 roughing the kicker
-- 1 clipping

I mention the fact they had just one clipping on the bottom because whoever is the clipping coach in Oakland deserves a raise.

*The Raiders actually had FIVE 12 men on the field penalties, but three were declined meaning the Raiders were really bad with 12 men on the field.

It looks like the Raiders had three touchdowns taken away by penalties, though one seems to have been overturned anyway by replay. An opponent took one field goal off the board because of a Raiders penalty and proceeded to score a touchdown. Considering the quantity of penalties, that actually doesn't seem so bad to me.

The Raiders committed 18 penalties that were declined or offset. The offensive line held every game but three. The defensive line jumped offside every game but two. The most personal fouls in a game was four, against the Vikings and they had a face mask in that game too. They did not commit a have an illegal formation in their first 13 games and then had two in the same series. They saved their best for Kansas City -- that really is the most underrated nasty rivalry in the NFL -- committing 14 and 15 penalties in those two games.

I watched the Raiders quite a few times this year, and to be honest I didn't often get the impression that they were out of control the way those 1998 Chiefs were. I thought the offensive line just held a lot, and the defensive line jumped into the neutral zone a lot. Raiders fans could probably offer a more complete analysis though.

One other thing -- the Raiders didn't really lose a lot of close games this year. They won a few -- close ones over Houston, Cleveland, Minnesota, Chicago and Kansas City. Of the losses, though, they probably should have won at Buffalo, but they were beaten pretty soundly by New England, crushed by KC, bludgeoned the second time they played the Broncos and destroyed at Miami and Green Bay. The one-point loss to the Lions in Week 15 was crushing, and penalties played a role in that one. But all in all, I would say that their amazing number of penalties really didn't make a huge difference. When the 1998 Chiefs set the penalties record, there were lessons and stories behind it -- lessons about abandoning your standards, stories about how frustration can tear you down and so on.

The 2011 Raiders I think were just a mediocre team, and like many mediocre teams they finished 8-8. They just happened to have a lot of penalties called on them.

No comments: