When the league adopted an enhanced emphasis on illegal contact and defensive holding calls this offseason, there were plenty of people who pointed to the way that the Seahawks’ defensive backs played last season as a reason for the shift.
The Legion of Boom was a physical presence in the passing game, some would argue too physical, and they wound up as the most penalized team in the league on their way to a Super Bowl title. They’ve been called for 21 penalties through two preseason games, a bit over the average of 9.5 flags per team (up from 6.1 last season) per game this summer and tied for seventh overall in the league.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll took issue with some of the illegal contact calls against his team when they faced the Chargers, including one against cornerback Tharold Simon who appeared to make legal contact inside five yards before an interception that was negated by a flag. Referee Pete Morelli also picked up another illegal contact flag thrown when Chargers quarterback Kellen Clemens was out of the pocket, a situation that takes away protections against such contact. Carroll said he’s spoken to the league about his concerns and feels the league is receptive to discussion about having things run more smoothly in the regular season.
“I hope that the league office will be open to the conversation. They already are, and I’ve already heard from them,” Carroll said, via the Tacoma News Tribune. “They’re open to the conversation about how it’s going. It doesn’t seem quite right. It seems like there are too many calls being made and too many incidental calls that seem to be affecting the game. So, we’ll see. … It’s obviously different. So, the question is: Is it better? I don’t know. Hopefully, we will have a good conversation about it.”
There’s a school of thought that the flags will start flying less frequently once the regular season starts because the league will look at the glacial pace and low entertainment value of games played under a blizzard of yellow and see a potential problem for the fall. It seems likely, at the very least, that some of the calls away from the play will be deemphasized as they are having more of a negative impact on the games than the behavior they are designed to correct.