Until recently, the plan seemed to be working.
That's why several Raiders players were caught off guard by comments made this week by Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali, who told a Kansas City newspaper that Oakland is a "dirty" team whose players "cheap shot" opponents and said it was a tradition in the games between the AFC West rivals, who will meet Sunday.
A few years ago, that might have elicited a more profound reaction from the Raiders, but this is clearly not the same franchise it was when late owner Al Davis was calling the shots.
"If somebody's talking about you, you're doing something right," Reece said Thursday. "We play hard, we don't play dirty. Obviously divisional opponents are going to feel it a little more because it's a rivalry."
Hali's comments came on the heels of Oakland's two most penalized games of the season. The Raiders had 12 penalties in a loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 14, then picked up nine more in Sunday's win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Oakland had 19 total penalties through the first four weeks of the season.
Reducing penalties has been a primary concern for almost every Raiders coach. Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie extensively talked about the need to be more disciplined.
Before the recent backslide, Oakland had been just that despite a rough start in the standings.
The Raiders (2-4) have 40 penalties, but just three have been for unnecessary roughness, and they've been whistled only once for roughing the quarterback. That's a significant reduction from 2011, when Oakland had 10 unnecessary-roughness calls, five roughing-the-quarterback penalties and four flags for unsportsmanlike conduct.
"I could expect it from some other people, but from him, I was real surprised because he plays hard, he's a tough guy," Reece said. "To each his own."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press