What 3 former Seahawks said about DK Metcalf’s penalties
Oct 20, 2023, 10:01 AM
(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
The Seattle Seahawks need a win in a divisional matchup this Sunday to wash away the sour taste of a bad road loss in Week 6. There are plenty of interesting topics with this one – can the offensive line stay healthy? Can red zone woes improve? Can we see more from rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba? How good can this defense be? And yet all anyone really wants to talk about this week is a yellow flag.
Five of them, really. All going to DK Metcalf.
According to ESPN, Metcalf has five more penalties than the next wide receiver during his time in the NFL. He’s a physical, aggressive player who won fans over by dominating corners and brandishing a unique and edgy personality. Lately though, the main question has been whether the occasional flag — last time for unnecessary roughness – is hurting his team.
Three former players and current Seahawks voices sounded off about Metcalf’s penalties and his response to them this week. But before I tell you about that, I just want to remind you of a quick stat heading into this Week 7 matchup.
If Metcalf catches one more touchdown, he’ll be in first place for the most receiving touchdowns through a player’s first five seasons in franchise history, beating Steve Largent and Joey Galloway.
This isn’t a topic because it’s a slow week, and calls for trading Metcalf ignore that very real production and promise; this is a conversation because Metcalf is one of the best young receivers the Seahawks have seen.
So, does it matter?
There’s one key to being a physical player
How would you handle it as a teammate?
That’s the question former Seahawks and Lions offensive lineman Ray Roberts was asked during The Huddle Thursday. And maybe he was the wrong person to ask, because he was a lot more like Metcalf than not. But Roberts, now an analyst, has the benefit of hindsight.
“Well, unfortunately I was that dude,” Ray Roberts said with a laugh. “I got into a lot of fights. It wasn’t necessarily me being frustrated or whatever. But I never let people take cheap shots at our quarterback or our running backs or our wide receivers. So, if that was happening, that wasn’t a fight for them it was a fight for me. And so I’ve gotten my share of fines and been kicked out of two or three football games for fighting. But at some point you have to realize — some people say, ‘Oh, he’s just really passionate,’ but when it gets to that place it’s not passion anymore, it’s like out of control frustration and anger. And so you have to learn how to go right to that line without crossing the line.
“Early in his career he was pretty good at that,” Roberts said. “He was good at getting dudes really angry and then he would walk away and they would get the penalty. But if you look at the last few years, he’s the guy picking up the penalties because he’s forgotten how to stop right at that line. It’s a little bit frustrating, his response. No one’s asking you to be a different player. We’re just asking you to be more self-aware as you’re playing.”
Listen to the right voice
Seattle Seahawks play-by-play man Steve Raible echoed Roberts, saying that no one should want Metcalf to change who he is as a player. Rather, Metcalf should try to listen to the more focused side of himself during intense moments.
“DK is an emotional player,” Raible said. “And that helps him in some ways and sometimes that works against him. Coaches are going to talk to him and he’s going to do the right things as best he can, but every so often something goes off. I think a lot of it has to with defensive backs around the league knowing they can push his buttons and they can upset him. If I was a shorter defensive back, the last thing I’d want to do is get DK Metcalf mad at me. But that’s just me because I’m a bit of a wuss.
“He said he’s not going to change the way he plays. But really, nobody wants him to. They just want him to, every so often when that little voice in your head says to go after that guy, listen to the (voice) that says, ‘go back to the huddle’.”
A delicate line
“Tell me when your job perfectly every day and I’ll hand you $100,” Bumpus said. “And yes, Metcalf’s production isn’t what it was the last few years. But I think what people don’t see is what DK does to defenses. I watch film every single day on the Seahawks. I’m watching how they send a safety over the top, how they’re bracketing him, how they’re always looking to see where No. 14 is. Therefore, other guys are getting open.”
Bumpus said there’s a delicate line Metcalf needs to walk as a physical player.
“I think people misunderstood what he was saying,” Bumpus said. “He knows those penalties hurt the team. But you don’t want DK going out there and being a softer DK. That would hurt his game. If you lose your edge in this game, you are done.”