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December 4, 2014 at 10:58 AM

A few more thoughts on Seattle’s penalty situation

What remains a hot-button topic for fans — Seattle’s penalty disparity — is one you may not hear much more about from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll for a while.

Carroll made it clear Wednesday that he feels like he’s said what he can say on it, and doesn’t want to stray further, meaning get into fineable-comment territory.

“At this point, it’s out there that it’s happening,” Carroll said Wednesday. “I’m not going to comment on it. I don’t have anything for it—no. If I did, I’d be working towards that and competing to try and change it. It’s pretty clear that there is a disparity—nothing you can do about it.”

Asked a follow-up question if he had spoken to the NFL about it, Carroll said yes.

“We have talked about it back and forth,” he said. “I’ve called them on it just to make sure they are aware and we have talked a number of times and they are keeping their breaths because it is an unusual differential there and they’re just watching it, but they’ve been good about it.”

As Carroll notes there, the crux of the issue is not so much the penalties called on the Seahawks — 102 which ties Tampa Bay for the most in the NFL — but that Seattle’s opponents have been called for just 51.

According to, that is by far the fewest penalties called against opponents of any team in the league, with the Jets next at 63.

The 102-51 disparity is also by far the largest in the NFL, a ratio of minus-4.25 penalties per game.

According to information available via, that is the widest disparity in the NFL since at least 1990 (which is as far back as this site has easily searchable data).

And it’s not close.

The widest disparity from 1990 to now came in 2005, when the Raiders averaged minus-2.88 fewer penalties per game than their opponents.

Seattle, obviously, is on pace for almost 1.5 more penalties per gam than its opponents than that number.

So what’s going on?

I know fans want to think the NFL has it in for the Seahawks in some regard. But one thing that’s interesting is the area where many figures Seattle would get hit hard this year — penalties in the secondary — has not one to fruition.

Seattle, for instance, has ben called for just two illegal contact penalties and four for defensive pass interference, each among the lowest numbers in the NFL.

Instead, where Seattle has gotten hit hard is in false starts (20), defensive offside (nine) and neutral zone infraction (seven), which each lead the NFL, as well as offensive holding (16) and defensive holding (10), the latter of which is second-most in the NFL (five of which have come against Byron Maxwell and two each against Tharold Simon and Malcolm Smith — so it’s not the big-name Legion of Boomers getting hit with those calls).

Carroll also intimated recently that good teams tend to get hit harder penalty-wise than not-so-good teams. In terms of penalty disparity leaders, though, it’s hard to make a real clear connection. There have been good teams lead in penalty disparity in recent years, but also not-so-good-ones such as the Raiders, who could almost retire the trophy, having led the NFL in penalty disparity 11 times since 1990, and six times since 2004 after Oakland’s slide began (though yes, I know people have long assumed the NFL kept a keen eye on the Raiders for a myriad of Al Davis-releated reasons, so who knows).

If nothing else, the good news of late is that as the penalties have increased for the Seahawks, so has the winning — Seattle has had 44 penalties in its last five wins, and as Seattle has gone 5-1 in its last six games, the contest in which it got the fewest flags was the game it lost, at Kansas City (called for six).



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