RENTON — Pete Carroll spent most of last season dealing with the Seattle Seahawks’ inordinate amount of penalties.
There were 138 to be exact, a franchise record and the second most in the NFL last season.
So with the penalty problem being a point of emphasis, what did the Seahawks do in the season opener at Arizona? They committed 13 more infractions, tied for the most in Week 1.
“There were a lot of calls in that game, a bunch of penalties are called, but we do not want to play like that,” Carroll said Wednesday. “So we’re working, we’ve worked like crazy to get this done. We did it all through the preseason, in an improving fashion, not to where we wanted but we improved, but to go out in the first game and go into double digits is wrong. That’s not us, not the way we want to be, not what we’re intending.”
Some of the penalties Seattle committed in the 20-16 loss to Arizona were in the simple, mental category. There was Chris Clemons jumping offside on third down, left tackle Russell Okung moving out of his stance too early and getting called for a false start three times and rookie QB Russell Wilson failing to get outside the pocket and being flagged for intentional grounding.
Those are simple calls for any official to make. But Seattle was twice flagged for defensive pass interference, had a number of holding calls and saw an interception called back when Marcus Trufant was flagged for being offside — and the extra play helped Arizona convert a field goal in the third quarter.
They were mistakes the Seahawks could not afford to make in what was already going to be a tight game.
“I take it upon myself for emphasis, take it upon myself to make sure we’re pointing out the right things for the guys to avoid them,” Carroll said. “There’s a number of calls that could have changed that and to wind up with a bunch is way wrong for us. We need to fix it right away.”
One area where Seattle is spending preparation time is learning the new replacement officials. While it’s not the same as a baseball umpire who is known for having a specific strike zone, there are tendencies that can be garnered from scouting officials.
So with a new set of officials now making the calls, Seattle has gone to the extent of producing scouting reports for the players about what kinds of calls they might see from officials calling their games for the first time.
“We’re not breaking them down or anything, but it’s just these guys have called these plays, this is the number of penalties they have called and this guy or this crew calls this penalty more than that penalty,” Seattle center Max Unger said.
The decision to add that level of scouting to the Seahawks’ pregame planning has a twofold effect. Not only do they get a little bit of background on officials they are unfamiliar with, but it also stresses the importance of Seattle’s penalty situation.
“It’s just come to light for all of the reasons of emphasizing the penalty situation that we need to know more and need to be more aware of what’s going on around us, who is calling the penalties, who is watching who and all of that,” Carroll said. “That is part of it. It just seems like it gives me more opportunity to be focusing on the issue at hand and it’s just kind of coincidental that it’s because of the change in the officials.”