ALAMEDA -- Relief at the return of the NFL officials was greeted Thursday with little more than a collective yawn by the Raiders, who have been remarkably free of penalties through Week 3.
After setting NFL records for penalties (163) and penalty yards (1,358), the Raiders are ranked 29th in penalties (14) and 30th in penalty yards (102).
A team that had 59 pre-snap penalties a year ago (3.7 per game) has six in three games. After being flagged for 30 personal fouls in 2011, the Raiders have tallied just one.
Might the replacements have come in with fewer preconceived notions about how the Raiders play?
"It's one of those things, when you have a reputation for doing something and you go into a game, it's more likely you're going to get those things called on you," safety Tyvon Branch said.
Or, given the reduction of pre-snap penalties which aren't judgment calls, has the Dennis Allen regime cleaned things up?
"I think our guys are buying into being a disciplined football team and doing things the right way, and it's a continual work in progress," Allen said. "We've had three games, so we've got a long way to go . . . I would attribute it our players understanding more what they need to do than I would anything external."
Allen's approach has been more understated than his predecessor, Hue Jackson, who promised to correct the penalty issue and then produced a team averaging 10-plus penalties and 84 penalty yards
The Raiders totaled 15 penalties for 131 yards in last year's season opener in Denver alone.
Rather than have officials at training camp practice every day, an unprecedented step taken by Jackson last year, there were only three officiated practices this summer.
Then there is Allen's unquestioned on-field authority, a first for the Raiders since Al Davis become coach in 1963.
Allen's philosophy on penalties meshes with his other strong beliefs. He is big on responsibility, which Rolando McClain says helps explain the decline in mental mistakes.
"He's making it a big issue for us to stop getting penalties," McClain said. "Some penalties you can't control. You do your best but sometimes they will get called. Our problem was the crazy pre-snap, offsides, neutral zone, and all that. If we can cut those out that's a big difference for us."
Cornerback Michael Huff thinks the staff's new approach has had a trickle-down effect into many areas -- penalties included.
"I think from Day 1, D.A. came in and preached discipline and accountability," Huff said. "I think before some coaches have done that, but I don't think guys bought in.
"It's there in every way, from the meetings, the
Branch said he didn't approach the game differently with the replacement officials, nor will he alter things for regular crews.
"You just go out there and play football," Branch said. "Even with the regular refs, they're going to make some calls you don't agree with."
With the regular officials back on the job, Allen and his staff will pore over data to provide scouting reports on crews to determine if they have any tendencies.
"We evaluate what all the crews call, and we're on special alert on the things they call a lot," Allen said.