BY Art Thiel 08:02PM 01/16/2017

Thiel: Carroll adds more to Seahawks’ disarray

Outbursts by Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett added drama to the seasonal stress created by Saturday’s playoff ouster in Atlanta. So did a mysterious knee injury to Sherman.

Pete Carroll took responsibility for his role in creating some of the player drama on the sidelines. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

A discombobulated, bewildering Seahawks season grew a little more opaque Monday when coach Pete Carroll said CB Richard Sherman played much of the second half of the season with a knee injury, but seemed surprised that word never became public.

Nor did he know that DE Michael Bennett engaged in an extended, profanity-filled locker-room rant Saturday in the Georgia Dome over a reporter’s question, inspiring Sherman, of all people, to cross the room to calm down Bennett.

Small things, yes, but logs for the fire burning around a disappointing season that ended with with a 36-20 playoff loss to Atlanta — an undisputed demonstration that the Seahawks have drifted down from the top tier of the NFL.

“Honestly, I didn’t realize we hadn’t revealed it,” Carroll said of the knee injury at his final press conference of the season with local media. “I don’t even remember what game it was, it was somewhere in the middle . . . I don’t know. He was fine about it. He didn’t miss anything. The same with Russell. (Richard) was fine about it. I don’t know how they do that, but they did.”

On his Monday morning segment on 710 ESPN, Carroll implied that Sherman’s injury — apparently an MCL sprain that, according to Carroll, will not require surgery — was a factor in Sherman’s much-discussed sideline outbursts toward coaches, as well as the deteriorating relationship with media members.

Carroll said he admired “how hard (Sherman) worked at this thing and how he tried to handle it, and also when he made his mistakes, he was burdened by that. He had to work his way through it. He’s a good man, and he’s trying to get everything right.’’

Regarding the failure to disclose the injury, Carroll said, “I’m feeling like I screwed that up with not telling you that because that happened. But he was OK. So I don’t know. He never missed anything, which is probably why.”

For all the admiration, Carroll on the radio said he felt compelled to have “a big meeting” with Sherman Sunday, prior to players’ departures  — apparently at least the second one-on-one in a month between the two — then address the entire team about engaging in distracting public behavior.

“I think there were a couple outbursts that we had, that were documented well, that took us to a place we don’t want to be,” Carroll said. “We don’t want any part of it. The emotional side of it brought out some expressions, and took us to a place that was a distraction that we had to get through. And we did.”

He was referring to Sherman’s challenge of defensive coordinator Kris Richard during the Oct. 16 Atlanta game, and Sherman’s dispute with Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell during Dec. 15 Rams game.

“We got through it better than on the inside than on the outside, for those watching,” Carroll said. “We were able to directly go at stuff. Sometimes the setbacks can allow you to grow, and it did. But we don’t need those distractions. It’s hard enough to get it done when everybody is in lock step.

“So again, we get it. We know what happened. We dealt with it. When it was time to reprimand, we did. When we had to take action, we did. But even in the last game, there were times it didn’t look like it needs to look. We were off with our focus at times. So we addressed that in here on Sunday. Clearly, it’s not the way we want to be representing who we are and what we’re all about, so we have to do better at that.”

Regarding the Atlanta game distractions, Carroll was referring to incidents in which the Seahawks blew their cool, notably Bennett against a Falcons offensive lineman in the third quarter, after which he was pulled from the game briefly. In the locker room, Bennett lit into KCPQ news anchor Bill Wixey for a question about the lack of pressure on QB Matt Ryan.

“Get out of my face now,” Bennett said in a loud voice audible to all, reported in the Seattle Times. “Don’t tell me I didn’t do my job (expletive). OK, exactly. Get the (expletive) out of my face. Like I said, get out of my face. Don’t play with me. Don’t play with me.

“I just put my heart on the (expletive) field. Don’t (expletive) play with me. Get the (expletive) out of my face then. Try me again, see what happens. I ain’t one of these (expletive) out here. Don’t try to tell me what I didn’t do (expletive).”

The most damning thing Bennett said was, “what adversity you went through?” He was unaware of the fact Wixey was treated for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2009.

Sherman, along with other players, came up to Bennett to calm him down, which seemed to work. A year ago, Bennett had a similar post-game run-in with a reporter in Carolina after the Seahawks season ended, and also after a game against the Cowboys in Dallas.

The outburst Saturday went viral and made Bennett the target of criticism. But Carroll said he hadn’t heard about it.

“I didn’t know anything about it until today,” he said. “I don’t even know what took place. I haven’t even read the article.

“I think that’s just another example of not being poised at the time. I know Michael is a very remorseful guy when he makes his mistakes. I haven’t talked to him about it at all.”

One guy who called out Bennett, at least indirectly after the game, was teammate SS Kam Chancellor, during a TV interview.

“One thing I told the defense is that every game that we argue, every game where on the field it was a bunch of arguing, trying to fight the other team, we lost,” Chancellor told KCPQ Channel 13.  “I told them that humility (needs to) set in. You’ve got to remain poised. You’ve got to remain humble throughout all the battle.”

Carroll admitted he was disappointed.

“Not necessarily surprised, but I’m disappointed we weren’t able to control it, that guys weren’t able to keep it inside,” he said. “These guys have been very emotional players, and it’s part of the thing that we like about them. But there’s a point where you can go too far. Our guys are working at figuring that out.”

Legendary around the league for his tolerance of individual personalities, Carroll was asked if he takes responsibility.

“I do,” he said, “because it’s important for me to tap into these guys, their emotional side, and it becomes part of their play that when it fits the person. But sometimes, like I said, we make mistakes. I needed to do a better job of helping them head that off.

“This is a game that calls for guys to play at the edge. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But I think there’s a mistake when they go too far.”

Carroll’s Monday session revealed that fractures are happening in the Seahawks empire. To his credit, he has taken responsibility, and presumably addressed them directly with the team. Whether he can walk the players back from their bad acts remains to be seen. These are not kids; Bennett is 31, Sherman 28.

His relationship with Sherman in particular seems increasingly tenuous. The knee injury episode only adds to the confusion. It’s understandable that players and teams want to hide weaknesses, and we all know every player is hurting to some degree. But to suggest the injury destabilized him emotionally is concerning: Is it OK to yell at teammates and coaches on national TV if you’re hurting?

For his part, Sherman needs to gain enough self-awareness to know his actions as a leader are seen by all and taken to heart by many. His fellow Legionnaire Chancellor is right: Humility can be an asset, not an embarrassment.

And for some perspective: The last championship-caliber team Seattle had before the Carroll regime was the Sonics of the mid-1990s under coach George Karl. They would have a label for the Seahawks’ descent into disputation and disharmony.

Just another Tuesday.

They managed to work through it. So can the Seahawks. Success is always difficult.

Shead has serious knee injury

Carroll wasn’t very specific about the right knee injury to starting CB DeShawn Shead, except to make clear it’s bad.

“It was a significant knee,” he said. “There’s some other stuff, some other things that did go on. But I can’t tell you the specifics of it. It was a significant ACL injury (compared) with some of the other things that normally happen.”

Shead went down in the third quarter without contact after defending a pass that went incomplete.

“It’s going to be all the way until next season before he really gets to start seeing how far along he is and if he can come back,” he said. “So we have to think like we got to pull from the ranks of the guys and see how they do . . . I thought he had a very, very good year. He was challenged a ton. Being on the other side of Sherman can wear anybody out.  He hung in there tough throughout the season. He’s a terrific team guy so if he is not available, we’re going to really miss him.”

To critics of Bevell: Shut up

Finally, to complete a day filled with cranky news, Carroll answered a question about critics who insist that Bevell, the OC, be fired.

“I’m sorry to say this,” he said,  “but they don’t know what they’re talking about. Darrell does a great job.”

Seahawks sign 10 to futures contracts

The Seahawks Monday signed 10 players, all of whom spent time on the practice squad this season, to 2017 future contracts: C Ross Burbank, FS Pierre Desir, RB George Farmer, DT Tylor Harris, DT Shaneil Jenkins, FB Malcolm Johnson, WR Kenny Lawler, TE Marcus Lucas, G/C Will Pericak, and RB Kelvin Taylor. All but Desir, Johnson, Lucasand Pericak are rookies.

 


YourThoughts

  • Comrade C-attle

    It’s naive to expect a team that wins a lot to be good losers.

    • art thiel

      Bennett’s anger is OK until it takes him away from his game, which it has done several times.

      Sherman knows his sideline rages will be televised to the world, but his reluctance to care about impacts on the team is disturbing.

    • rosetta_stoned

      Well, that would certainly explain the repeated sideline outbursts and locker room temper tantrums by the Packers, Broncos, Steelers, Patriots …..

      • Comrade C-attle

        Considering the Seahawks have won at least one playoff game a year since 2012, this isn’t a big deal. As for the Broncos, how is their season going?

  • ReebHerb

    Thought Carroll was as candid and transparent as I’ve ever heard him today. He’ll take a bullet for his guys but I think he’s tired of the antics. Baldwin has matured since his infamous BM celebration so individuals can come around to the point it’s not distasteful to watch. The Seahawks had a good season.

    • art thiel

      Good observation, Reeb. Carroll was fairly open, and didn’t disguise his displeasure with the distractions.

      Baldwin has matured in ways that should be noted by any mid-20s person who recognizes his/her behaviors as impeding progress.

  • Tman

    The 2015-16 Seahawks were decimated by injuries to Sherman, Jeremy Lane, Thomas Rawls and Chancellor among others..all who came back to play, only to watch as more greats fell to injury..Russel Wilson, C.J. Procise,, Earl Thomas, Michael Bennet and Tyler Lockett among them. Anytime a person is injured they favor the injury because they do not want that pain again, but play they did. Extraordinary people, these seahawks and their coaches.

    • Donnarsmith

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    • art thiel

      Fair point, Tman. Since all NFL teams lose key people for periods short and long, it’s considered bad form to dwell on it. But fans are free to add up the injuries and say that it’s a reason, not an excuse, for the seasonal outcome.

  • That Man

    Come on, Art, the Sonics comparison was cute, but to call them “the last championship-caliber team Seattle had before the Carroll regime” seems like a cheap shot at Holmgren’s Seahawks, not to mention Lou’s last Mariners teams.

    • art thiel

      Probably so. I still believe that nearly all premium teams go through lots of drama and tension that rarely get into public view. The Karl Sonics and the Carroll Seahawks are more alike than most people realize.

      • Comrade C-attle

        Hopefully they’re not too alike, otherwise Sherman or Bennett will demand a trade to Cleveland.

      • Husky73

        A couple of Romar’s team were championship caliber……

  • MrPrimeMinister

    You guys–the press journalists in this town–have had quite the heap of abuse thrown your way of late. Your vocation, legitimacy, and now come to find you and we have been lied to by the awe-shucks gum smacking coach. I’m a huge believer in you guys doing your job, and i hate to see you all take this sitting down.

    • art thiel

      I appreciate the support. But no one does this gig without a Kevlar suit that’s also poopfest-proof.

      • Steed

        Imagine how the non sports reporters are feeling these days. Sports reporting is an oasis compared to covering………that other stuff.

    • Husky73

      I’m glad the word “lied” was used.

  • jafabian

    Bill Wixey is more than a news reporter. Anyone who follows him online knows he’s a diehard Seahawks fan and doesn’t hide it. Sad that Bennett expects so much out of the media but doesn’t reciprocate.

    Which really could be said about many pro athletes, especially older ones. Some will take their situation for granted. I’d like to say the current Seahawks are above that but I don’t know them that well beyond what’s reported and on social media.

    I wouldn’t say the Sonics worked through their problems. Two first round disappointments they had no business losing, only one Finals appearance and no trophy. IMO they imploded in the end. The Storm had better success.

  • Gerald Turner

    Thanks art for the excellent writing Keen insight and all-around great Seahawks reporting

  • Husky73

    Carroll’s good guy, let em express themselves style is now leaking like the Titanic. The Seahawks are not the team they were 2-3 years ago. Sherman is no longer the, “Oh, that’s just Richard being Richard” guy anymore. He’s no longer defiant. He’s a distraction and he hurts the team. Get him down from the podium. Bennett has more than once bellowed nonsense and pushed people around on the field as he did during Atlanta’s victory formation. Doug Baldwin is the angry young man. These 20 somethings need the 60 something (no doubt, a great coach) to rein them in and focus them on a better 2017. There is still time for this group to win another Super Bowl before they re-tool.

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  • antirepug3

    Individuals and teams that run on high octane emotions are going to have flare-ups on occasion. Having said that, reporters should not be allowed in the locker room any more than one would allow a stranger in their own home bathroom with them. Period. JMO