RENTON Sounds as if Pete Carroll’s patience for all these Seahawks penalties is waning. Particularly for Germain Ifedi’s.
But not enough to bench the right tackle. Not yet.
Ifedi committed his NFL-leading 12th penalty on Sunday in the Seahawks’ galling, 17-14 loss at home to Washington. His holding foul for not letting go of his man while quarterback Russell Wilson scrambled easily around them was one of 16 flags against Seattle. That was one behind the team record set in 1984 against Green Bay.
Six of Seattle’s penalties on Sunday were on the offensive line: three for holding (on right guard Oday Aboushi twice and Ifedi once); two false starts (on rookie left guard Ethan Pocic and new left tackle Duane Brown) and an unnecessary-roughness foul on center Justin Britt for hitting after a play. So, yes, every one of the five offensive linemen committed a penalty.
There was an illegal-substitution foul in the second quarter when running back Eddie Lacy was the 12th man out of the huddle. Tight end Jimmy Graham had a false start. Seattle had 13 plays with more than 10 yards to go for a first down.
Seattle turned a first and 10 at the Redskins 14 into a third and 30. Blair Walsh then sent one of his three missed field goals way wide left.
"We hurt ourselves," All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. "I don’t even know how many penalties we had."
On Monday, Carroll sounded like you already are: close to fed up with the penalty issues. His team leads the NFL with 82 accepted penalties against it through eight games. That’s on pace to break the NFL record for an entire season. Oakland had 163 in 2011.
Seattle has 41 fouls over the last three games. The two most flagged Seahawks games of the Carroll coaching era that began in 2010 have come in the last three weeks, 15 at the Giants then Sunday’s debacle.
“We are going to keep working at it. We’ve got a number of things that we are going to do. We will get after that again today and step it up,” Carroll said Monday. “We think it is a group thing, obviousl, when you have a bunch like this, but it comes down to individual choices and making good decisions and doing things right.
“So we are going to jump all over it with another emphasis today.”
Ifedi, last year’s first-round draft choice who was the team’s starting right guard as a rookie, moved back to his college position at Texas A&M at right tackle for this season. He has six holding fouls, four false starts and two unnecessary-roughness fouls accepted against him in eight games. His dozen penalties are three more than any other offensive lineman in the league.
The most accepted penalties against a blocker in the league last season was 17, on Houston right tackle Chris Clark.
“Yeah, well, he’s got some line-of-scrimmage stuff and he has been sloppy with his hands. And that’s basically what it is,” Carroll said. “He is one that has not really nailed the sense of, when Russell is getting out on his side he’s got to release.
“But he has had his share and it’s definitely a point of emphasis that has been there for some time now.
“It’s disappointing that we aren’t fixing this faster.”
“We aren’t fixing this” implies line coach Tom Cable is involved in correcting it, too, which he most assuredly is.
Ifedi’s two-year problem with illegal-procedure fouls appears to be a coaching tip the tackle sometimes has taken to extremes. Honestly, Ifedi could be called for at least a half-dozen false starts per game, if not per half. Again on Sunday, he repeatedly got out of his stance a half-tick or more before the snap.
He does it so he could get a head start on getting outside quickly enough on Washington’s edge rushers. Without it, he’s often too slow to get there and Wilson get chased or sacked.
“Yes,” Carroll said of Ifedi’s head start, “that is actually what it is.”
So it seems the Seahawks are OK encouraging the risk of a 5-yard false-start penalty to help prevent the loss of more yardage--and Wilson’s health--from a sack Ifedi is more likely to allow by being too slow off the snap. The hope is he doesn’t get called far more times than he does, and so far that approach is working, at least in that lone regard.
Chronic penalties on a team--Seattle’s been in the top 10 in the NFL in flags for years under Carroll--turns the focus on coaching. Specifically on what the coach and staff have done and will do to get the message to players.
How about benching them for flags? That would send a clear message every player at every position would hear.
I asked the coach Monday if he is now considering that for consistent offenders.
“That is a nice way to go about it. And sometimes it may get to that. Yeah, it may get to that,” Carroll said.
“But we aren’t there yet.”
The 2013 Seahawks under Carroll led the NFL in penalties with 128. They won the Super Bowl.
In 2014 Seattle again led the league with 130 flags. It went back to the Super Bowl.
Carroll was asked Monday those teams won then despite all the penalties, or did those seasons reflect a level of aggressiveness that was a reason they won.
“You guys can make that determination,” he said.
The coach’s implication: There are effort penalties. And there are dumb penalties.
Ifedi’s best way to stay in the lineup beyond his start Thursday against the Cardinals in Arizona is to eliminate the latter, specifically his false starts. Of all too-many fouls his players commit, nothing ticks off Carroll more than false starts, delay of game, substitution infractions and offside.
Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett committed that last foul against Washington. On the game’s first play.
“There was five at the line of scrimmage. Those always irk me the most because those are the ones that are totally self-inflected,” Carroll said of Sunday’s loss. “But they were kind of across the board, you know. There were a couple holds on scrambles and things that we know that we worked to learn in the nature of our play.
“Russell is running around and those offensive linemen have to know when to release and feel that. And we didn’t make that choice a couple times, properly. So there is just stuff that continues, that needs focus.”