The Seattle Seahawks breezed their way through a 24-3 win over the Rams last night, and the only real source of drama, aside from a few players taking shots to the head, was a brief sideline dustup between Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and his coaching staff.
Late in the third quarter, with the Seahawks up just 10-3, head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell called for a first-and-goal pass to Jimmy Graham in the back corner of the end zone. The pass was nearly picked off by Rams linebacker Bryce Hager, and that was enough for Sherman to step in:
After the game, Sherman didn’t try to downplay the incident, telling reporters that he was upset with the play call and was actually voicing his concerns to Carroll before Bevell came over and started their back-and-forth. From ESPN:
“I’m upset about us throwing from the 1,” Sherman said afterward. “I’d rather do what most teams would do, making a conscientious decision to run the ball.”
“Yeah, I was letting [Carroll] know. We’ve already seen how that goes.”
It’s hard to blame Sherman for feeling a twinge of trauma at the sight of a goal-line pass. I don’t think this pain ever really goes away:
Still, it’s not like there is never a good reason to throw from the goal line—it’s good to keep defenses off balance, and Jimmy Graham is a huge guy who can go up and catch jump balls—and passing up a chance to run the ball from the 1 is far less egregious when you don’t have Marshawn Lynch in the backfield.
I’m less interested in the merits of Sherman’s complaint than I am with the fact that the Seahawks are a team on which such public displays of insubordination are no big deal. Nobody shied away from the incident after the game, Sherman didn’t seem meaningfully upset or angry while answering questions about it, and Carroll treated it as a natural manifestation of Sherman’s passion:
“That was one of our guys who’s got as much emotion and passion for this game as you could ever want,” Carroll said of Sherman. “And sometimes it goes one way, you have to reel it back in. He did exactly that. He did a nice job of coming back to poise and finishing the game really well.”
There’s an army of self-serious football broadcasters and pundits that would have you believe a player publicly disagreeing with his coaches is an act of treason, and yet the Seahawks are over here with a cornerback who will argue with his head coach on the sideline, a receiver who will flip off his coordinator from the field, a defensive end who has never once filtered himself, and a 9-4 record. The term “strong locker-room culture” doesn’t always have to be defined the way Brian Billick types want it defined.