RENTON – Pete Carroll posted the list of violators and their offenses.
A Dirty Dozen of Seahawks committed 16 penalties in Sunday’s game against Baltimore. Carroll listed them all, even the un-indicted co-conspirators – those whose penalties were declined.
“It’s spread around, it’s a global situation we’re dealing with here,” Carroll said of the penalties at his Monday press conference. “Epidemic proportions.”
The problem is not new, and it’s only getting worse. The Seahawks now have 83 accepted penalties in nine games – more than they had in six entire seasons since 1987.
They’re the second-most flagrant scofflaws in the NFL, trailing only the Oakland Raiders (91), who have long ago retired the Golden Hochuli Award for on-field anarchy.
The coach’s Roll Call of the Damned included five Seahawks with more than one violation – tackles James Carpenter and Russell Okung, defensive linemen Raheem Brock and Clinton McDonald, and cornerback Roy Lewis.
There were some by habitual recidivists, too, like the pass interference against Brandon Browner (10 accepted penalties this season), and the unnecessary roughness by safety Kam Chancellor – both of whom play with a degree of roughness that has long seemed entirely necessary for the Seahawks secondary.
Some came with mitigating factors, and Carroll broke them down into felonies and misdemeanors.
“Sometimes it’s trying too hard,” he said. “Line of scrimmage penalties on defense … we had three of those – jumping the gun. That’s because guys are trying take advantage of the crowd and noise and all that, trying to get a great rush on third down and their hair trigger was off.”
The aggressive plays in coverage, by Chancellor and Browner, for instance, “are gonna happen,” Carroll said. Sometimes the physical play pays dividends later as skittish receivers start short-arming receptions for fear of impending hits.
But Mike Williams’ unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after a little scuffle “was totally inexcusable,” Carroll said, as were a few others that were on his list.
“The stationary situations at the line of scrimmage are really in our control,” he said. “The aggressive ones, we’ve got to try to figure out, try to get in the guys’ heads.”
All coaches have their approach. Former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, whose teams tended to be among the best in the league at following the rules, had a low threshold for such things in practice.
At times he’d theatrically boot the whole unit off the field, or halt a session and send the players to be scolded by their position coaches. I recall one exchange with veteran guard Chris Gray – following his second false start in a practice – in which Holmgren promised to execute something like a field goal with a portion of Gray’s anatomy.
It seems as if Carroll has had to spend a lot of time this season having strange and arcane calls being explained by apparently bumfuzzled referees. I have no way to quantify this, but officiating this season has been the most dubious I can recall.
The heightened scrutiny on player contact seems to have left officials themselves uncertain how to consistently rule on infractions.
And there are times when you see flags for violations that are otherwise never called. Roy Lewis, for instance, was flagged for illegal contact because Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin ran up and initiated contact.
Carroll is torqued, of course, knowing how slim the margin of error is for a team now 3-6.
“It sucks to have 13 penalties in a game – particularly seven in the fourth quarter,” he said. “It was all but disheartening. However, it was cool to see we could overcome it. Smarts didn’t work out, but toughness did, grit did, finish did.”
Yes, absolutely, the Seahawks played with the degree of energy and emotion they needed in the upset of the Ravens.
“That’s not always gonna be the case,” Carroll said. “We’ve got to get rid of it and we’re just going to work until it goes away.”
It’s at the top of his list.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 email@example.com