About These Seahawk Penalties

Yeah, exactly.

There's obviously going to be a lot to like when the Seahawks beat the previously 6-2, AFC elite (according to some) Ravens at home but there's also some things that are concerning, most visibly the Seahawks penchant for racking up ridiculous amounts of penalties. 83 penalties thus far this season in 9 games, for an average of 9.2 per game. Yeesh. This lack of discipline, stupidity, bad luck, bad officiating, and whatever else you want to blame it on, has been an issue for the Seahawks. This has drawn some criticism upon Pete Carroll and company for the coaching staff's ability, or lack of ability, to stop the problem, or even curtail it, as the Hawks went out on Sunday and got penalized 13 times, the most in a game since 2002. 

Let's take a look at them, in order, and try and make sense of what the hell they're doing out there. 

First Quarter:

1-10-SEA 28 (3:33) T.Jackson pass short middle to L.Washington to SEA 30 for 2 yards (J.McClain).
PENALTY on SEA-J.Carpenter, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at SEA 28 - No Play.

Rewatched this play. Yep, that's a holding on Carpenter; he was beat with a nice swim move and Carp just held on for dear life so as to avoid letting Tarvaris Jackson get sacked. This one is on the rookie right tackle.

1-10-SEA 39 (1:22) M.Lynch left tackle to SEA 43 for 4 yards (C.Redding).
PENALTY on SEA-M.Williams, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 15 yards, enforced at SEA 43.

This is the play where Mike Williams gets shoved right in front of the referee, the referee comes to calm things down, and Mike Williams shoves the guy back. Mike Williams gets a flag. I know they say that it's always the 2nd guy that gets caught, but the ref saw both of these shoves and decided BMW deserved a flag of the two. I'm not sure how you make that determination; maybe Williams' shove looked harder. Annoying on the part of the ref, but more annoying on the part of Mike Williams. 

3-16-SEA 33 (15:00) (Shotgun) PENALTY on SEA-J.Carpenter, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at SEA 33 - No Play.

Drink. 

3-7-BLT 37 (13:37) (Shotgun) J.Flacco pass short middle to E.Dickson to SEA 48 for 15 yards (E.Thomas). P4
Penalty on SEA-T.Hargrove, Defensive Offside, declined.

The first in what would be many, many defensive offsides calls on Seahawks' veterans in this game. 

3-1-SEA 39 (12:02) (No Huddle) J.Flacco pass incomplete short left to A.Boldin.
PENALTY on SEA-B.Browner, Defensive Pass Interference, 5 yards, enforced at SEA 39 - No Play.

I thought this was a close play that could have been called or not called. Pete Carroll went on record this morning on Brock and Salk saying he didn't think it was a penalty and would take that play every day of the week. I tend to agree. Nothing Browner did was egregiously PI - or maybe I should say nothing he did is abnormal from what happens on 99% of pass plays between receiver and corner, but the ref wasn't giving some first year player that leads the league in penalties the benefit of the doubt. Either way, not a huge deal.

Second Quarter:

2-7-SEA 27 (8:17) (Shotgun) PENALTY on SEA-T.Jackson, Delay of Game, 5 yards, enforced at SEA 27 - No Play.

Head scratcher here. Jackson false started too, but either way, minus five yards. 

1-10-BLT 20 (:46) (Shotgun) R.Rice up the middle to BLT 31 for 11 yards (L.Hill). R9
Penalty on SEA-C.Clemons, Defensive Offside, declined.

Jumped too soon. Again.

Third Quarter:

2-10-BLT 20 (14:55) (Shotgun) J.Flacco pass incomplete short right to A.Boldin (L.Hill).
PENALTY on SEA-R.Brock, Defensive Offside, 5 yards, enforced at BLT 20 - No Play.

A veteran jumped offsides. Again. Stop it, seriously. 

Fourth Quarter:

1-10-BLT 24 (12:35) (Shotgun) J.Flacco pass incomplete deep right to T.Smith (R.Sherman).
PENALTY on SEA-R.Brock, Defensive Offside, 5 yards, enforced at BLT 24 - No Play.

A veteran jumped offsides. Again. Stop it, seriously. I mean it this time. Camera zooms in on Gus Bradley looking incredulous. 

1-5-BLT 29 (12:29) (Shotgun) J.Flacco pass short left to A.Boldin pushed ob at BLT 31 for 2 yards (R.Lewis).
PENALTY on SEA-C.McDonald, Illegal Use of Hands, 5 yards, enforced at BLT 29 - No Play.

Yeah, I dunno. During a bullrush, Clint got his fist up into the guard's facemask. Illegal obviously, but these things happen quickly in the trenches. Too bad he got caught for it. 

4-5-BLT 40 (7:52) (Shotgun) J.Flacco scrambles up the middle to BLT 46 for 6 yards (K.Chancellor; E.Thomas). R20
Penalty on SEA-R.Lewis, Defensive Holding, declined.

Lewis had such a rough, rough day. 

3-10-BLT 46 (7:20) (Shotgun) J.Flacco pass incomplete short right to A.Boldin [D.Hawthorne].
PENALTY on SEA-R.Lewis, Illegal Contact, 5 yards, enforced at BLT 46 - No Play.

Ugh. Seriously. 

1-10-SEA 36 (6:45) (No Huddle, Shotgun) J.Flacco pass incomplete deep left to A.Boldin [M.Smith]. SEA-K.Chancellor was injured during the play. He is Out. PENALTY on SEA-K.Chancellor, Unnecessary Roughness, 15 yards, enforced at SEA 36 - No Play.

Helmet to helmet. Good call, but also a huge hit by Chancellor. Knocked himself silly.

1-10-SEA 11 (5:57) (No Huddle, Shotgun) J.Flacco pass short middle to E.Dickson for 11 yards, TOUCHDOWN. P25
B.Cundiff extra point is GOOD, Center-M.Cox, Holder-S.Koch.
PENALTY on SEA-C.McDonald, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 15 yards, enforced between downs.

Clint getting a little chippy, and gets called for almost the exact same thing he was called for earlier - but this time manages to rip Michael Oher's helmet off. Pretty dumb, really. In the end, this penalty didn't really make a difference. The Ravens just kicked the ball out of the back of the endzone. 

1-10-SEA 20 (5:52) PENALTY on SEA-R.Okung, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at SEA 20 - No Play.

Good false start called by the Ravens here. Honestly, Okung DID false start, but the flag was only thrown after about five seconds of pleading by the Ravens' defense. This kind of thing really annoys me. 

Here's how Pete Carroll felt about the Seahawks' 12th enforced penalty of the game:

Screen_shot_2011-11-14_at_11

1-15-SEA 15 (5:52) T.Jackson pass incomplete short right to G.Tate (B.Pollard).
PENALTY on SEA-G.Tate, Illegal Motion, 5 yards, enforced at SEA 15 - No Play.

This was a weird penalty. Tate lined up on the line, then tried to back up but it was too late I guess as the ball was snapped, and they called him 'never set'. Third straight penalty. Awesome, guys. 

Here's Pete Carroll after the Seahawks third straight penalty, seventh of the quarter, and 13th overall:

Screen_shot_2011-11-14_at_11

("You've got to be f*cking kidding me, right?")

Ok, so - 15 penalties, 13 enforced. To sum up - one holding penalty by a 22-year old rookie. Eh, whatever. One delay of game by your QB, one illegal motion by Tate, one defensive pass interference by Browner, one illegal hands to the face by McDeezy and one unnecessary roughness penalty by Kam. I can live with all of those, because they'll happen in any normal game. I'm not sure if "coaching" really eliminates those types of things, other than maybe Tate's miscue. 

Two false starts by your starting tackles. Annoying. Four offsides penalties by Anthony Hargrove and Raheem Brock. Really guys?

One defensive holding and one illegal contact penalty against Roy Lewis in the fourth quarter. Facepalm. 

One unsportsmanlike conduct penalty each against Mike Williams and Clinton McDonald. Unacceptable, as far as I'm concerned. Nothing annoys me more than guys getting 15-yarders for trying to be tough. Grow up. 

Here's the question, or several questions: Can coaching eliminate these penalties or is it a result of youth? Is this an indictment on Pete Carroll and his staff or just a bunch of stupid plays by young players? 

Obviously, the quad offsides penalties by Brock, Clemons and Hargrove were committed by veterans so you can't play the youth card there. Can you play the "coach em up" card though, or does the buck stop at players making plays at some point?

"Hey guys, wait until the ball is snapped before you start running at the quarterback." "Okay, thanks coach. Will do."

I jest, but what do you do here to tighten things up? Bench those players?

Furthermore, are these penalties meaningful? Is there a correlation between highly penalized teams and losing teams? Dave Wyman wrote a pretty interesting article the other day that pointed to the idea that these penalties, though annoying, aren't really worth fretting over too much. Per Wyman,

"Here's a statistic (in reference to penalties) that is entirely meaningless over the past five years but comforting to young teams who are prone to mistakes (and Raiders fans). Believe it or not, highly penalized teams can still be successful. In 2009, three of the five most penalized teams went 11-5 (Dallas, Green Bay and Philadelphia), and the 2008 Titans had the 4th most penalties in the league and went 13-3.

Collectively (in the past five seasons) the five most penalized teams went 42-38 and the five least penalized teams went 44-36."

Food for thought, anyway. I'm in the camp that, though annoyed with the sheer amount of penalties the Seahawks have accrued this season, I am not particularly worried about the trend. Chalk some of them up to youth. Chalk some of them up to veteran mistakes. Chalk some of them up to bad luck or poor officiating. Chalk some of them up to the coaching staff and some to the players. 

The obvious question becomes 'how do we limit these penalties?' and I don't really have an answer for that. Do you?

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