Richard Sherman is staying put — even though he is somewhat put out by being ignored.
Coach Pete Carroll said Friday, the day after Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers didn’t throw Sherman’s way one time in 33 pass attempts during Seattle’s 36-16 victory to begin the NFL season, that he is keeping his All-Pro cornerback exclusively on the left side of the defense for the Sept. 14 game at San Diego — and for the foreseeable future.
“Yeah, he plays on the left side and they know that,” Carroll said of opponents. “So that’s worked out real well for us over the years; we haven’t flipped much at all. It’s a choice that we make because we believe in the guy’s technique.”
That is to say, Carroll and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn count on Sherman to stay disciplined in his assigned third of the field in Seattle’s base, three-deep-zone defense. It’s been that way for a Carroll defense since before he became USC’s coach in 2001.
Sherman — who earlier this week said he got “bored” when he didn’t see the ball come his way — stayed in his assigned, empty area Thursday. He hawked Green Bay’s distant, ignored No. 3 wide receiver Jarrett Boykin one the left third of the field — and could have had his eyes closed doing it.
Meanwhile top receiver Jordy Nelson and other Packers worked the opposite side against fellow Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell. Rodgers targeted Maxwell 10 times, completing six and getting one of those intercepted in the third quarter when his pass was wide off Nelson’s hands into Maxwell’s.
At one point in the third quarter while Seattle’s offense had the ball, Sherman, his back to the field, offered some pointed encouragement to Maxwell, who was resting on the bench.
It was the first time since Sherman became a Seahawk in 2011 that anyone around the team could remember him not getting at least one pass thrown his way.
“That’s the way it’s going to be all year,” Maxwell said of the Packers’ plan. “Richard Sherman had eight interceptions last year. They are going to come at me.”
San Diego and quarterback Philip Rivers, Seattle’s next opponent Sept. 14 in California, didn’t throw at Sherman during the second exhibition game last month (though both teams’ starters played less than a half). And in the exhibition opener Aug. 7 at Denver, Peyton Manning didn’t throw at Sherman, either. But then Chicago and Oakland completed passes on short routes and back-shoulder throws in front of Sherman to end the exhibition season.
So Sherman, for now, may have to adjust.
After Thursday’s game he was frustrated — so much so Carroll felt compelled to talk to his star in the locker room about how he still impacted the game because the Seahawks only had to defend two-thirds of the field with his 10 teammates.
Green Bay had just one touchdown in the first 31/2 quarters and 255 total yards with its shying-from-Sherman approach.
“I used to get (ticked) off when I was younger,” Sherman said following Thursday’s game. “But now I just stay disciplined, stay sound and assume just I’m making an impact somewhere.
“You just have to stay locked in. You can’t be selfish. That’s the biggest thing. You have a job to do, and you have to do it and let the chips fall where they may. But you can’t lag on a play and cost your defense.”
Carroll reminded Sherman the entire defense benefits by him merely being in his assigned position of left cornerback. Now that’s respect.
“If a team lets you know that it is only throwing to one side of the field it helps everybody,” Carroll said. “It’s not going over there, it’s going over here. If they would tell you before the game where they were going to throw the ball over here the whole time, that helps you. It’s simply that; you just know where the ball is going.
“We can’t bank on that. But after a while in the game (Thursday) it was pretty clear. ... It was a real concerted effort (not to throw at Sherman).”
Carroll said Friday he felt he needed to remind Sherman he is so valuable that he helps the defense by being too good to be challenged.
“This is an extraordinary competitor that wants to be in the middle of everything and it’s frustrating,” Carroll said. “He didn’t feel like he was an active part of it and I’m telling him that he was.
“It’s been interesting to watch, I don’t know if it will keep up.”
Sherman had the ball thrown his way only 65 times in 19 games including the playoffs last season, according to a study in May done by the deep statistical thinkers at Football Outsiders.
That was 58th-most in the league. Yet Sherman led the NFL with eight interceptions.
It worked last year — all the way to a Super Bowl title and Sherman getting a new, $56 million, four-year contract extension this spring. So the Seahawks aren’t going to change after one game of nothing for Sherman.
“Basically over the years we’ve always played left and right. We really bank on guys getting a feel for how they play on their side,” Carroll said. “(Maxwell) is holding up; that’s what so exciting. He’s playing great football.
“I don’t know if that’s going to go away if we keep getting picks over there. … We’ll see what happens and it’ll be interesting to watch it.”
“We’ll let you know when the time comes if we need to do something about it.”
Carroll said nickel back Jeremy Lane has a substantial groin injury that is going to keep him out a while. It’s possible there may be a roster move coming this weekend related to that. The coach said Marcus Burley, acquired last week from Indianapolis for a sixth-round draft choice in 2015, is the nickel back for now. Carroll was impressed with Burley after he replaced Lane in the third quarter Thursday. … Carroll said CB Tharold Simon had minor knee surgery to repair cartilage and could be back in four weeks. … Backup G/C Lemuel Jeanpierre has a nerve issue in his neck; that’s why he went on injured reserve this week. … Don’t expect the eight wide receivers to stay on the active roster. With the depth issues in the secondary and offensive line, there may be a roster move coming there, too. … The team is off from practice Saturday and Sunday, returns to the field in Renton on Monday and then doesn’t practice on Tuesday.