Pete Carroll: NFL open to conversation about adjusting emphasis on pass defense penalties


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.

39 responses to “Pete Carroll: NFL open to conversation about adjusting emphasis on pass defense penalties

  1. Preseason is normally tough to watch but the amount of weak penalties being called is making it impossible. I really hope the NFL straightens this out before the regular season. No one wants to watch a game with penalties called on every other play.

  2. Its not the league office that needs to be contacted, its P Manning. His shellacking in the Super Bowl is why flags are flying non stop.

    Every time he gets stymied, he complains about DB’s and get his way. Had he played in a different era of non pass happy football, he’d be like his dad; average.

  3. NFL will soon have final scores that look like basketball finals. If Defense wins a championship, enforce more rules to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Ridiculous

  4. I know what would solve the problem, its as simple as full time, year round professional referees…

  5. Is Pete Carroll the new Bill Belicheck? No, not in being a genious…in beting able to work the league to get unfair advantages…

  6. This whole thing is really his fault. He instructs his DBs to commit illegal contact on every play figuring the refs won’t throw a flag on every play. It’s not like he is the first, BB had his DBs do the same to win his first SB.

  7. All offseason other teams’ fans crowed about how this emphasis would ruin the Seahawks (the article fails to mention only 4 of those 20+ penalties in the first 2 preseason games were for illegal contact on the Seahawks while opposing teams [Denver & SD] were hit with 7 over those 2 games).

    While it’s been a little satisfying watching their fans moan & complain about the extra flags (apparently, they never realized how much their teams do the same things they thought only the Seahawks did), as a fan of the game, it has made for far less entertaining football league wide. Referees have become so sensitized to the slightest form of contact that this has gone beyong “rule enforcement” to become “rule anticipation”. A little balance is needed.

  8. Ill-conceived emphasis on these calls. The inconsistency has always been an issue. The new emphasis just highlights how bad the officiating is on passing calls.

    What is a penalty on one play is totally ignored on the next.(same game) The worse thing is that fans get to see each call over and over. The NFL has to allow for challenges or drop the whole idea.

  9. Maybe the fags will fly less because the players will figure out what they can and cannot do, not because the refs will put the flags away!

  10. Pete you’re delusional, flags won’t stop for your team, nor probably any the way the Zebra’s are running around with sore shoulders….

  11. So you can legally pass interfere if the QB is outside the pocket? Seems like if the QB is behind the line and can legally make a forward pass then the same rules should apply. Don’t really get having to stay in the pocket to get the call.

  12. I don’t care how long the game takes, if its a penalty throw the damn flag. If anything has been proven its that fans of the NFL will watch anything related to the NFL for however long its on TV. Just look at the draft, pro bowl, and the lead up to free agency its covered 24/7 for weeks before it even starts.

  13. .
    Memo to Pete Carroll : It wasn’t that your secondary held on every down during the regular season and playoffs. It’s that they held during the Super Bowl and embarrassed Peyton Manning.

    Thanks for ruining an NFL season before it’s even begun.

  14. Doesn’t matter where the voice of reason comes from, the product as it stands is unwatchable.

  15. It’s called football, it’s supposed to be physical and the pre season has been unwatchable. They better change, the refs have been out of control or the League will start losing fans.

  16. So you can legally pass interfere if the QB is outside the pocket? Seems like if the QB is behind the line and can legally make a forward pass then the same rules should apply. Don’t really get having to stay in the pocket to get the call

    If the QB is out of the pocket he becomes a runner. You can still get called for PI but down field contact is allowed. If Kap takes off running (but still behind the line) and Crab begins blocking, it shouldn’t be a defensive penalty.

    At least that’s the theory.

  17. People who blame the new emphasis on pass defense penalties on Peyton Manning are morons. The reason for the emphasis is that the Shehawks DB’s were absolutely mugging receivers on the field all season last year and not getting called for it. It’s as simple as that.

  18. Watch the Simon play. If you honestly think the defender commits a penalty, you need to quit watching football. You can get more contact in the NBA and not hear a whistle.

  19. The flags will start flying less frequently, but only for the Seahawks. That’s because PC & crew can coach and will get their players to do it right, while everyone else will make excuses.

  20. People who blame the new emphasis on pass defense penalties on the Seahawks are morons. The reason for the emphasis is that all DB’s on all teams were absolutely mugging receivers on the field all season last year and not getting called for it. It’s as simple as that.

    There… fixed it for you.

    Manning isn’t the issue, neither were the Seahawks. At the meeting discussing the issue no Seahawk film was shown.

    And so far in preseason Seahawks have been called very few times for DPI, or Illegal Contact.

  21. I feel conflicted about this. While I think the Seahawks secondary needs to be brought in line, I also hate the fact that it’s basically illegal to play pass defense in the NFL today.

  22. what I really don’t like is the disparity of the penalties. Offense comes out much better on these penalties than the defense. Offense gets automatic first down and in the case of pass interference they gain the spot of the foul which can be a long way down field. Even it up, all pass fouls are 5 yards and automatic first down for defensive foul and 5 yards and loss of down for offensive foul.

  23. “So you can legally pass interfere if the QB is outside the pocket?”

    That’s not what the writer said. Pass interference and illegal contact are two different infractions.

    The reason illegal contact is legal when the quarterback leaves the pocket is that it at that point it becomes a running play.

    “Is Carroll going to address the penalty against Flowers too? Same situation.”

    It is the same situation, so of course it would be covered. By rule, neither Flowers nor Simon should have been called.

  24. You can’t help but laugh at Cheat Carroll. His team led the league in penalties last year but to listen to a hawks fan, it’s all P. Mannings fault. Morons. It’s one thing to cheat and have your team mug wr’s but then to make an announcement to the world that that is what you tell your players to do because the refs won’t throw a flag everytime is a moronic invitation to the league to start enforcing the rules, thanks Cheat for doing your part to ruin football. I believe every opponent of the hawks last year complained to the league about the things the hawks db’s were getting away with. yes other teams did their share of it too but not to the extent that the hawks did and they sure as hell didn’t stand up at a podium and announce it to the world.

  25. It’s sickening to read stories like this over and over again. Yes the seahawks had the most penalties last year, and yes they’ve racked up around 20 this year. No writer is yet to mention that the majority of last years penalties were on giacomini, the most flagged player in football. They also don’t mention that Seattle is one of the teams least affected by the LOB rule. The majority of Seattle’s penalties come from neutral zone infractions and offensive holding. It isn’t that the refs aren’t calling it, its that they aren’t doing it as much as you think they are.

  26. Pete Carroll was on the radio just now. League got back to him about the penalties and determined the penalties called on Tharold Simon and Philip Adams were wrong. However, a penalty by Maxwell that should have been called wasn’t. So… great job refs.

  27. Let’s face it.fantasy football is the root cause of this need for high scoring games.

  28. Josh Alper did some bad reporting. I watch these games and Seattle isn’t being flagged even half as high as other teams for illegal contact and PI. Any of you watch that Bears/Eagles game?

    Seattle’s penalties this pre-season have been holding, false starts and offsides for the most part but yet the picture is painted Seattle has that problem with these rules. Every fan of football should have a problem with the call on Simon when he played perfect defense and took the ball the full distance for a score only to have that play wiped by a flag.

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