Rejoice Ravens fans, as this event comes but once every few years!
This week’s Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens game will be officiated by none other than Ed ‘Hercules’ Hochuli!
Ed Hochuli is one of the few officials in the NFL that everybody seems to like (except Panthers fans after he ‘allegedly’ called Cam Newton ‘too young’ last year). Is it his ability to call a fair game? Is it his soothing yet authoritative, lawyer-esque pipes? Is it his constant need to flex on every penalty call?
I’ll say all of the above.
We’ll delve deeper into the Ripped Ref later, but first let’s take a look at what we should expect from a penalty perspective in this week’s matchup.
O-Line Uncharacteristically Undisciplined
While the team as a whole has been pleasantly surprising when it comes to a lack of penalties (18 overall, tied for 18th most in the NFL), the offensive line has been the proverbial thorn in the team’s side.
Through 3 weeks of the regular season, LT Ronnie Stanley (three penalties) and RG Marshall Yanda (three penalties) account for 33% of the Ravens penalties. Add in another flag for Ricky Wagner‘s chop block in Week 2 and you’re looking at seven of 18 penalties on the offensive line alone.
Here’s the full breakdown of accepted penalties against the Ravens.
As we’ve previously noted, there are a few anomalies in the mix – Steve Smith Sr. with an uncharacteristic False Start, Joe Flacco with a Delay of Game while trying to get the Bills to jump in Week 1 – but the disparity between which side of the ball is at fault for most of the infractions looms much larger.
Again, a small sample size with only three weeks in the books, but it’s clear the offense has accounted for the bulk of the penalties so far, while the defense has played relatively clean ball (more on that later). For an offense that’s sputtering as it is, these self-inflicted wounds are only adding to their problems.
Of course it’s easy enough to chalk the O-Line woes up to one of many reasons – it’s early in the season,the line is continuing to gel, LT Ronnie Stanley and LG Alex Lewis are rookies and still learning the NFL game, etc. And Marshall Yanda…well 3 penalties in 2016 through three weeks versus three penalties in all of 2015 should tell you all you need to know about how out of the ordinary this is for him. He’ll bounce back.
And if you worry about the rookies on the left side of the line after three weeks in the books, just remember: Michael Oher had NINE penalties in his rookie year, with six of those going for False Starts.
It could be worse!
There is a silver lining to all of this though: In 2015, two of the biggest bugaboos for Baltimore came in the form of Unnecessary Roughness (they led the NFL with 15) and Defensive Pass Interference (they tied for second-most with 15). So far, the Ravens have yet to commit either penalty this season, while only committing a single Defensive Holding penalty to date.
Last week we discussed Jacksonville’s uncanny ability to draw flags right and left. But the Oakland Raiders? They’re the leading the pack, with 31 accepted penalties through three games (tops in the NFL) for 257 yards (2nd to Detroit’s 294 yards).
A few notable names, and a few former Ravens are among the guilty here.
Former Raven OG Kelechi Osemele has been hit with an Offensive Holding call (no surprise there, as KO had four holds in Baltimore last year), as has Brynden Trawick, times two (both on special teams play).
There’s also a glaring issue with skill players committing infractions for Oakland. Between WR Amari Cooper, WR Michael Crabtree, TE Clive Walford & TE Lee Smith, the Raiders have been flagged NINE times for various offensive penalties. In contrast, the Ravens skill players have been flagged only twice (Steve Smith Sr. & Dennis Pitta).
Looking at the Raiders breakdown by group, their penalties appear to be much more evenly distributed than those of Baltimore; however, there’s still a large portion of penalties committed by the offense.
Ed Hochuli’s Crew
As previously mentioned, Ed Hochuli & Co. will be officiating this weeks Ravens & Raiders game.
Taking a similar approach as we did for both teams, we can take a look at the crew’s penalty log to date in 2016.
Of course the above penalties are just the top nine calls through three weeks (11 other penalties tied with one each). While O-Holds and False Starts appear to be much more frequently called, understanding that those penalties are more frequently called league-wide, we see that Hochuli’s call frequency actually falls right into the norm with league averages.
His penalty distribution by group is not too shabby either!
Nearly identical on the offense and defense?
A thing of beauty…
What To Expect In Week 4
A few noteworthy items that may be of interest to the Ravens:
-Hochuli’s crew has thrown a flag for Leaping on special teams this season (one of only three in the league). With the Ravens’ ability to pressure and block/deflect kicks in recent games, as well as officials calling Ravens opponents for such infractions recently, this may come into play on Sunday.
-While Hochuli’s crew has called four DPI’s this season, the Ravens have yet to commit this infraction, nor have any of their opponents (only team in the NFL with 0 DPI’s for or against through three weeks).
– The return of Elvis Dumervil may loom large in this game, as an added pass rusher against an Oakland offensive line that has committed holding penalties at every position could likely result in a handful of backward movement for the Raiders come Sunday.
All things considered, I’m hoping to see the Ravens regress back to their Weeks 1 & 2 penalty shortage, as opposed to more of the same from this past week against the Jaguars. Meanwhile, Oakland is averaging a shade over 10 penalties per game, and I’d expect to see that continue.
With that said, I’m making the following predictions for this week’s dirty laundry:
– With Oakland’s inability to pressure the quarterback (two sacks on the year), I don’t expect we’ll see any missteps from the Ravens offensive line, who will play a fairly clean game (one False Start, one O-Hold).
– The Ravens secondary will be flagged for it’s first Pass Interference penalty of the season (Shareece Wright on Amari Cooper).
– Mike Wallace will draw TWO DPI’s downfield after getting behind the Raiders defense. One will be declined, as the play results in a touchdown.
– Late in the game (and down two scores) Michael Crabtree gets feisty after the play (Jimmy Smith as his sparring partner), draws a Personal Foul, and kills any chance the Raiders had of a comeback.
Total Penalties Prediction:
Oakland Raiders (9/85)
Baltimore Ravens (6/63)