Dave Boling

Dave Boling: Seahawks winning games, but losing their cool

A referee breaks up a group of players in the first quarter. The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Los Angeles Rams, 24-3, Thursday to clinch the NFC West title.
A referee breaks up a group of players in the first quarter. The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Los Angeles Rams, 24-3, Thursday to clinch the NFC West title. jbessex@gateline.com

Even when they’re in the process of winning another NFC West title, the 2016 Seahawks are doing things differently, more on the edge, at times seemingly on the verge of losing control.

They’ve played with unparalleled passion for years; the fire burning on the field and so clearly fueling their competitiveness.

The sidelines, though, have been cool and unified. If there were screaming outbursts, they were conducted in private.

Not anymore. Maybe it’s just another example of the Seahawks being free-spirits and expressive. But maybe it’s a sign that that some of the sense of “brotherhood” — a Seahawks hallmark — is getting strained.

This season has been different in a lot of ways; there’s been a few big wins and some almost inexplicable losses, and far more inconsistencies than we’d been used to seeing.

After the 24-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams, everything is still possible, and two more games remain to continue their fine-tuning for the playoffs.

It’s their third division title in four seasons, and that’s a significant achievement in the NFL, even if the rest of the teams in the division are strangely substandard.

This was further significant as a bounce back from a bad loss last week at Green Bay, even if it was a sloppy game filled with penalties and injuries.

They took the field in uniforms the color of phosphorescent algae, and mostly struggled, pulling away in the fourth quarter.

Quarterback Russell Wilson bounced back (three touchdown passes), receiver Tyler Lockett was a big-time threat, and the defense dominated, cranking up their quarterback pressure after it had gone dormant for a few weeks.

But major problems remain. The offensive line again played horribly. The Seahawks rushed for 72 yards on 30 carries (2.4 yard average), but 26 of those yards were by punter Jon Ryan on a fake.

And the team committed 13 penalties.

In the third quarter, we saw another sideline eruption — again from All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman.

And later, Michael Bennett made a brilliant sack and executed a sack gyration that he knows — absolutely knows — would draw a flag and a 15-yard penalty. He obviously did not care.

Does it make sense that a team so filled with seasoned veterans, that has faced so many obstacles, is losing its cool like this?

After the previous Sherman detonation (vs. Atlanta), I dismissed it as one of the most competitive and passionate players in the game merely responding to a problem on the field. Sherman has earned some latitude, right?

This time, he appeared to be getting into it with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, although he said afterward that he was yelling at head coach Pete Carroll.

He explained that he didn’t like a pass play being called on the Rams’ 1-yard line. The pass was almost intercepted. So maybe he’s right with his opinion.

But a cornerback screaming at coaches about the offensive play calling?

An unwritten football axiom is “stay in your lane.” It means do your job. Take care of your business. So, what a cornerback thinks about an offensive play call is not worth throwing such a distracting hissy fit.

Carroll said he wasn’t sure what was going on on the sidelines at that point, since receiver Doug Baldwin, who had just caught a touchdown pass, was also screaming about something.

Carroll said: “I’m not worried about it one bit.”

Maybe it turns into nothing once this team gets to the playoffs. This team sometimes thrives on dysfunction. Guys are free to express themselves and that’s a part of what has made this work.

It’s not as if Carroll burdens them with onerous rules. He asks that they protect the team, not whine or complain and not be late.

I would think that Sherman was in violation of at least a couple of those Thursday night. He should be reminded.

Sherman is an absolute blast to cover. I love how he promised that the big contract and wealth wouldn’t matter to him, that he’d always be the raggedy dog who had to fight his way to the top.

He probably won’t care how the yelling at coaches looks. But it seems far more like the behavior of a diva than a proud raggedy dog.

And it’s certainly further out of his lane than most would ever expect of such a squared-away guy.

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