The rage with which Richard Sherman confronted not only teammates, but defensive coordinator Kris Richard, is rarely seen in the course of an NFL game.
In the canon of Richard Sherman blowups, which can be rated roughly on a scale from crabby to Crabtree, the one on Sunday fell far short of nuclear.
At least, that was the verdict of those who know him best, and say they were hardly thunderstruck by Sherman’s thunderous second-half sideline meltdown.
“I’ve known him for 10 years,” said Doug Baldwin. “That was mild.”
Earl Thomas said he’s seen Sherman display such explosive anger “all the time. That’s nothing new.”
Perhaps, but the very visible nature of this tirade, and the rage with which Sherman confronted not only teammates, but defensive coordinator Kris Richard, is rarely seen in the course of an NFL game. And that makes it something the Seahawks are going to have to work through, and past, to keep their promising season on track.
They said, to a man, that won’t be a problem, seemingly offended at the very suggestion that Sherman’s rager would have a carry-over effect.
“There is no doubt,” Coach Pete Carroll said, slowly and forcefully, when asked if Sherman and the team can put this incident behind them, and then repeated those words for emphasis.
“These guys have been through too much together, they care too much about one another. I’m not worried about it one bit. This is a bunch of guys that are here to do the right thing, and they’ll figure it out.”
I tend to agree with that assessment, having watched the Seahawks put out fires in the past before they burned through team chemistry. The fact that they came back to win Sunday’s game after the two defensive breakdowns that pushed Sherman to the breaking point, and let Atlanta to take temporary control of the game, speaks to their resilience.
But, man, that was a sight to behold. After a wide-open Julio Jones burned them for a 36-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter of a game the Seahawks’ defense had been dominating, Sherman lost it. I mean, he went full-goose bozo, slamming his helmet as he returned to the sideline, then screamed at Richard like an angry ballplayer confronting an umpire who had just rung him up on a pitch he knew was a ball.
Part of his anger seemed to be directed at Kelcie McCray, filling in at strong safety for the injured Kam Chancellor. As Sherman’s demonstrative tantrum continued, various teammates took their turns trying to calm him down, from Chancellor to Michael Bennett to Bobby Wagner to Earl Thomas, to no avail. Even Carroll took a crack, but Sherman would not be subdued.
At one point, Bennett gathered the defense together on the sideline, and they surrounded Sherman and jumped up and down in an attempted show of solidarity. Sherman had little of it, and seemed to brood the rest of the game, sitting by himself during each exchange of possessions – one of those coming after another coverage breakdown led to an easy 46-yard touchdown from Matt Ryan to Levine Toilolo that tied the score.
“I was just chillin’, hanging out,” he said during a subdued postgame news conference. “It’s frustrating to give up two bogus touchdowns.”
Sherman said his initial issue – which he was still expressing forcefully in the locker room after the game — was over a miscommunication of the coverage on the Jones’ play. It was nearly a year ago to the day that miscommunication on coverages led to a late touchdown pass by Carolina’s Cam Newton that beat the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.
“We should have never gave them points,” Sherman said. “We could have stopped them. We could have held them to nothing. They scored on blown coverages. It’s frustrating.”
Miscommunication and blown coverages happen through the course of an NFL season. Asked what made this particular one so egregious that he couldn’t let go of it, Sherman replied: “Because it was something we discussed. That’s mostly what it was.”
Sherman agreed with Carroll that the incident won’t linger. “We’ll go over the film and make the adjustments, and then we’ll move on,” he said.
Sherman, in fact, was right in the middle of the fourth-quarter play that swung the game back Seattle’s way, an interception by Thomas after a juggle by Julio Jones that was then tipped by Sherman in Thomas’s direction.
And on Atlanta’s final play, as they attempted to move in for a game-winning field goal, he successfully defended Jones on a long pass from Ryan, though the Falcons claimed pass interference. The refs didn’t see it that way, and the Seahawks had survived despite what Carroll would later admit was some lingering effect from the Sherman incident.
“We’re a championship ballclub. It’s nothing,’’ Sherman said.
If it’s anything, the Seahawks said, virtually to a man, it’s a display of the passion with which they play, Sherman included. And a testament to the bond they’ve built that allows them to survive what other teams might view as a distraction, at best, or insubordination, at worst.
“We’re very familiar with this,” Thomas said. “We have a lot of alpha males with our team, so there’s always little rebuttals like that. But we do a great job, we have great leadership. We’ll be all right.”
“Emotions run high, and that’s like my brother, man,” Wagner said. “I just told him, I was mad on Monday and he calmed me down. I’m trying to return the favor. He’ll be good. He’ll be all good. He’ll forget about it tomorrow. We’re all good.”
“You tell me one family that never gets into arguments,” Cliff Avril said. “I don’t necessary know what the issue was, but we all got past it, and we won the game. That’s all that matters.”
The Seahawks’ task now is to ensure that’s true, and Sherman’s anger doesn’t take on a life of its own.
|Catch me if you can|
|Julio Jones is the first receiver to gain at least 100 yards in a game against the Seahawks this season.|
|139||Julio Jones, Atlanta||Oct. 16, Seattle win||1|
|94||Kenny Britt, Los Angeles||Sept. 18, Seattle loss||0|
|69||Levine Toilolo, Atlanta||Oct. 16, Seattle win||1|
|62||Arian Foster, Miami||Sept. 11, Seattle win||0|
|60||Qunicy Enunwa, N.Y. Jets||Oct. 2, Seattle win||0|
|59||Jarvis Landry, Miami||Sept. 11, Seattle win||0|