Pete Carroll has never been much of a disciplinarian. He’s a free spirit who encourages the same in his players.
It’s partly why his team is always at the top of the league in penalties. It’s also why his players feel free to express themselves — even if they make Carroll look like a fool.
They certainly did Thursday night in a division-clinching 24-3 win over the Rams.
The Hawks committed 13 penalties — 10 of them mental errors that reflected that well-documented lack of discipline. And Richard Sherman went off on his coaches again.
If the Seahawks had been playing almost anyone other than the Rams and rookie QB Jared Goff, Seattle might have lost that game.
The mental mistakes started early, with Mark Glowinski and Germain Ifedi committing false starts on the first drive. That was part of eight encroachment errors by Seattle in the game.
Cassius Marsh added to the brainfart-fest on the punt to end that first series, penalized for apparently flipping off the Rams on the sideline. On the ensuing Rams possession, he then jumped offside. Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Frank Clark also jumped offside once each.
Luke Willson played a pretty good game, drawing a key holding penalty and scoring a touchdown, but he also contributed to the four false starts (Ifedi had two).
Willson’s falsey came on first-and-goal, sending Seattle back to the 9-yard line. The Hawks eventually scored — but Sherman apparently went off on Darrell Bevell for calling a pass from the 1, which was almost intercepted. Sherman was already pissed about having to play a Thursday “poopfest,” and he decided to take out his annoyance on his coaches.
“I don’t like when we throw the ball at the 1,” Sherman said. “We throw an interception at the 1. Luckily it went incomplete, and I wasn’t going to let them continue to do that.
“I’m upset about us throwing from the 1,” he added. “I’d rather do what most teams would do and make a conscientious decision to run the ball straight up the middle.”
Carroll shrugged it off, like he always does. What else is he going to do?
“That was one of our guys who has as much emotion and passion for this game as you could ever want,” Carroll said. “And sometimes it goes one way where you’ve got to reel it back in. And he did exactly that. He did a nice job of coming back to poise and finished the game really well.”
After that, it was Bennett’s turn. He got a double whammy on back-to-back plays in the fourth quarter. After notching his first sack since Week 4 vs. the Jets, he celebrated with his well-known pelvic thrust, drawing a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct because he went over the line. That turned a fourth down into a first down.
“Yeah, that was three pumps. Definitely three pumps,” Tony McDaniel said. “I was counting out, 1, 2, oh no. … I talked to him in practice about it. I said, ‘Two pumps, Michael Bennett.’ I need to get back to a conversation where I’m gotta have a sit-down and have a talk with him. ‘Two pumps only, sir.’”
Carroll was not pleased, but what is he going to do? He really has no control over these guys — because he long ago chose to let them be themselves. All he could say was Bennett knows better, “doggone it.”
Karma bit Bennett on the next play, as he was knocked out of the game with a minor neck injury after a hellacious collision with Todd Gurley.
As they often do, the Seahawks overcame their sloppy, undisciplined play to clinch the NFC West title for the third time in four years.
But they made their coach look like a fool in the process.