While you can question why the Seahawks have been flagged for more penalties this preseason than any other team — 34 — you can’t question Pete Carroll’s willingness to address the issue head on.
Asked today about the team’s tackling issues, with the obvious implication that’s contributed to some of the flags for late/illegal hits, Carroll said he was glad the questioner brought it up and went on a rather lengthy tangent about the penalty situation Seattle’s efforts to comply to some of the NFL’s new mandates.
“We spend a lot of time on this really,” he said. “I don’t know how you can spend more time on just tackling, but also the hits on receivers, and hits on guys that are vulnerable. We have spent a tremendous amount of time trying to understand what the rules are and what they are calling. We’ve worked with the league office throughout camp to get interpretation, we’ve sent film in — all kinds of stuff because we are trying to be at the cutting edge of understanding this. There’s no reason to gripe about this thing and drag your feet on it because they are calling stuff to protect the game and we need to move right along with that. So we’ve tried to be very proactive.
“I’ve sent film into the commissioner of the way that we are teaching our tackling so that he’ll understand what we are doing and trying to see that if we are in good compliance with what they are hoping and all that. And, also try to help them understand what we think is the appropriate way to go. So we have taken a real serious approach to this. We are trying to get ahead of the football game. That’s what it really is and you have to really work at doing that. It applies to all contact situations, not just the tackling part, but offensive guys as well. In the kicking in particular, the old blocks, you used to pick off a guy in punt returns or something, you just can’t do it. You have to not make that block when you have a guy set up like in the old time football and we have to show those examples to just normal football. In the old days, but not anymore. So are our awareness is elevated, we are not griping about it. We are trying to learn and grow with it because we would victimized if we don’t.”
Carroll, though, also said that in those conversations this week, he had been told that some of the penalties called against the Seahawks were incorrect, in particular a penalty on linebacker Bobby Wagner for unnecessary roughness on a hit on Green Bay QB Graham Harrell in the third quarter.
“It was not an illegal hit,” he said. “It was a good hit. The league came back and said that. He did it exactly the way that we have been coaching him with that shoulder, it did not launch. He didn’t even really unload on him. He took a little bit off of him. But at the moment, and they said too that, ‘at the moment, you can see that’s it’s such a violent hit because the guy caught.’ But after looking at it, they said that, ‘it wasn’t a penalty.’ So we are teaching right from that. That’s exactly what we’ve taught our DBs to do. You saw Kam Chancellor getting called on it last year against the 49ers and then they came back and said that, ‘no that it’s a legal hit.’
“The officials are still vulnerable I guess and they have a tendency to call it because it looks so fast and so violent and it’s hard to detect whether he hit here or hit here; the head and neck area. How do you hit the neck area in football? I don’t know. But that’s the neck and head area. Our guys are trying to understand to do it really well. The officials have to also work really hard and they admitted that they are trying to work; come to an understanding of what this looks like so they can make the appropriate calls. They don’t like having to correct the calls any more than we would. I’m really really appreciative of the way they are doing it. I think the leadership there has really taken a direction and made an effort to show us that they are trying to get this thing right. It’s in the past, sometimes we were kind of wondering what they were thinking. We could not get the kind of answers that we needed. But we are really getting really clear communication right now. So we are really appreciative of that.”
Carroll also said that two pass interference penalties — one on Richard Sherman in the second quarter for 25 yards and the other on the now-departed Will Blackmon for 32 yards in the fourth quarter — shouldn’t have been called.
Those three penalties accounted for 72 of Seattle’s 182 penalty yards in the game, which Carroll noted today would have made the Friday game look different, while still acknowledging that the ones that were legit were still too many in number.
“There’s another (72) yards in there of penalties that may have been change after another look from an official,” he said. “So I’m not going to go overboard on some of it. But it’s the stuff from the offensive side of the ball, the line of scrimmage, the late calls, finishing a block, finishing knocking down a pile. Those types of things are things that we are trying to really elevate our awareness on; so we don’t get those things called. That’s what I like to see from us is to play really smart.”
And in case you are wondering, Seattle has been called for 34 penalties for 354 yards, both by far the most in the NFL. Next in terms of penalties is Buffalo with 30, and in terms of yards it’s the Redskins with 267 (on 24 flags). Aside from Buffalo, no other team has more than 27 penalties (which interestingly enough is the 49ers).