“Remorseful” was the word of the day Monday at Seahawks headquarters after the tawdry conclusion to the Seahawks-Jaguars game in Jacksonville Sunday. Lame as was the expression of regret, at least it was better for the Seahawks than the word, “suspended.”
Besides embarrassment, the Seahawks feared some players were going to be banned by the NFL from Sunday’s large contest for division supremacy against the Los Angeles Rams at the Clink. But coach Pete Carroll reported that the NFL said no players would miss the game because they couldn’t control themselves in the tumult of a 30-24 loss to the Jaguars.
DE Michael Bennett and DTs Quinton Jefferson and Sheldon Richardson, the latter two ejected for fighting in the final minute, were spared losing game checks, although fines may be forthcoming later in the week.
Bennett in particular seemed vulnerable. After the Jags made a first down in the final minute to secure the outcome, Bennett tried to disrupt the victory formation by swiping the ball free the moment it was snapped by C Brandon Linder.
As Linder rolled over Bennett and rose to his feet, Bennett took down Linder by the legs and the two began fighting on the ground.
Carroll confirmed the tactic but criticized the post-play takedown.
That is something he has tried before — trying to force a fumble, trying to get the ball back,” he said. “The stuff that happened after (the swipe attempt) was wrong. He was trying to get the ball. After that, that got messy.”
Asked whether he knows whether the swipe tactic ever has worked, Carroll said, “We’ve heard that it has. I’ve not seen it work yet. That was passed along to us a few years ago, and we have not seen anyone pull it off yet. It would take impeccable timing to get it done.”
Asked if Bennett had been told to knock off the swipe stunt, he said, “Yeah, he’s been told that; yes.”
Carroll claimed that Bennett was sorry, even though in the post-game media scrum, Bennett said, “I don’t have to explain myself.”
“Michael was really remorseful, even before we got off the field,” Carroll said. “I think he realized that he got in a bad situation and he was involved with it. That’s what I felt; he didn’t tell me that, that was my observation.
“I thought he really sensed that this was a mistake that he wished he wasn’t in the middle of. I don’t want to speak for him.”
Carroll did speak with Jefferson, who had drinks and a plastic bottle hurled at him after his ejection. He responded by attempting to climb into the grandstand to confront his tormentors.
“He was wrong,” Carroll said. “(Stadium fans) can say whatever they want to say. That’s what comes along with (being a professional athlete). You have to deal with it. Professionally, he lost it. He feels bad about it. It’s not the kind of kid he is.”
Whatever kinds of people the Seahawks are purported to be, their actions Sunday embarrassed themselves and the franchise. The late-game petulance also provides fuel for critics who believes Carroll’s supportive atmosphere for players leads to a lack of discipline.
The contention is a stretch because undisciplined teams don’t have the success Carroll’s Seattle teams have had. The year the Seahawks won the Super Bowl, they also led the league in penalties.
But fighting, shoving and taunting have greater consequences for a team like this year’s Seahawks, who because of injuries and mediocre drafting, have lost much of their margin for error.
While the petulance didn’t have a material effect on Sunday’s outcome, other errors did, particularly the three interceptions of Russell Wilson’s passes that helped create a 27-10 deficit. Carroll explained each:
“All three of them were kind of the same, in that he was trying to give the guys a shot down the field and trying to make a big play. One of them was really ill-advised because (WR Doug Baldwin) was covered up pretty good, and Russ chucked it to him and hoped something was going to happen. We don’t want to do that.
“But the one he threw to Doug in the end zone, the one he threw to (TE Jimmy Graham) on a scramble, both of those plays were where those guys have a chance to go get that ball. Doug, unfortunately, kind of got tangled up and stumbled. Kind of a bump that happened in the end zone.
“Jimmy’s got to make that play for us, where it’s either him or nobody. That’s kind of what we are counting on right there. We’ve done that quite often.”
Malik McDowell apologizes for arrest
Also joining the Seahawks parade of remorse was DE Malik McDowell, who also embarrassed the team and himself. Again.
McDowell, the Seahawks’ top draft choice in April who has yet to play because of a severe concussion following an ATV accident in July, was arrested for disorderly conduct Sunday morning in Atlanta after he was kicked out of a club that McDowell claimed owed him about $600.
According to a report by TMZ, McDowell was shouting at the club’s head of security for the cash, even though he was repeatedly told by staff and his own friend he hadn’t given them the cash he wanted returned.
He was was allowed back in, then kicked out again when he poured out two bottles of liquor. The officers who arrested him outside the club reported that he launched a profane tirade as they put him in the back of a patrol car. The police report said the officers were on the verge of using pepper spray and a taser gun before he complied.
He was released on $325 bond and made his way to Seattle where Carroll and GM John Schneider met with him Monday.
“He was very remorseful,” Carroll said. “He got in a situation and made a mistake and hopefully this will be a learning experience for him. I don’t know much more than that about it . . . I know he felt really bad representing in that manner.”
McDowell, a 21-year-old drafted from Michigan State with the 35th overall pick, signed a four-year, $6.9 million contract, including $3.1 million guaranteed. He was expected to provide depth on the defensive line and perhaps even get a shot at starting.
But since the concussion, he has been around the club only for medical exams and some non-football training. After initial indications of progress, Carroll said three weeks ago that McDowell no longer has a chance to return this season.
Monday afternoon, McDowell tweeted out his apology:
— Malik McDowell (@MSU_LEEK4) December 11, 2017