Seahawks’ Richard Sherman says miscommunication led to blown coverage, sideline outburst
Richard Sherman strolled to the podium for his postgame press conference following the Seahawks’ 26-24 win over Atlanta Sunday, wearing a bow tie and a smile, and politely greeted the mass of reporters who were all wondering what had him hopping mad about an hour earlier.
“It was just miscommunication,” Sherman said when asked about his sideline outburst following a third-quarter touchdown by the Falcons’ Julio Jones.
That explains how Jones got wide open behind Seattle’s secondary for his 36-yard touchdown reception, which cut the Seahawks’ lead to 17-10 and marked the first of two defensive breakdowns that led to Atlanta scores.
Less clear was why exactly it set Sherman off the way it did.
When he returned to the sideline following Jones’ touchdown, he tossed his helmet and had to be restrained by several teammates with defensive coordinator Kris Richard seemingly on the receiving end of his frustration. That lasted for several minutes as different teammates took their turns with Sherman, first trying to calm him down and then trying to fire him back up when Seattle’s defense was about to head back out onto the field. He didn’t seem to want to join in while everyone else around him was jumping around.
Sherman has been mad before following defensive breakdowns. Why was he that mad this time?
“Because it was something we discussed, is mostly what it was,” he said, clarifying that it was a part of Seattle’s game plan against Atlanta.
On the play in question, Seattle made a defensive adjustment before the snap based on Atlanta’s formation, but it didn’t get communicated to everyone. That resulted in Jones running right by strong safety Kelcie McCray, who was starting in place of the injured Kam Chancellor and had lined up across from the Falcons receiver in the slot. Sherman was lined up on the outside and ran with tight end Austin Hooper, indicating that he was playing man. McCray wasn’t on the same page, as Sherman noted afterward.
“Kelcie hasn’t been in the defense very long, we tried to make a new adjustment, and just miscommunication,” he said. “Frustrating play.”
Free safety Earl Thomas said Seattle knew to expect vertical routes based on Atlanta’s “13” personnel, with one running back and three receivers.
“We practiced those,” he said. “We understood 13 personnel, empty, we’re going to get seams. We just didn’t work it out like we needed to.”
Sherman didn’t clarify who he was so upset with after that play. He was understated and at times spoke matter-of-factly during his press conference.
Asked about staying to himself on the sidelines for much of the game after that, Sherman said: “I was just chilling. It was frustrating to give up two bogus touchdowns.”
Did his lingering anger have any impact?
How’d he calm down?
“I just was chilling, hanging out,” he said. “I’m a ballplayer. That’s how you play. Play with passion.”
Is it important to play that way?
“It’s very important,” he said. “It just shows that you care.”
That was a sentiment several teammates shared when asked about Sherman’s outburst. Free safety Earl Thomas said he’s seen Sherman that upset before and said he’s been there himself, referencing his own feelings after struggling in Seattle’s season opener.
“There’s a reason why he’s so great at his position,” Thomas said. “He’s very passionate about football. I’ve been in those same situations where I don’t take a shower, I just walk out here in my pool shorts because I’m pissed, the game didn’t go like you wanted it to.”
Said cornerback DeShawn Shead: “We’re passionate about this game. We’re a tight-knit family. Sometimes families get into it. But you could see we rallied back together, kind of got over it and rallied together as brothers. We’re a brotherhood. Things like that happen and we finished strong.”
After a second defensive breakdown resulted in Falcons tight end Levine Toilolo’s 46-yard touchdown, Seattle’s defense stopped Atlanta on its final three possessions. That included an interception that set up the game-winning field goal. Coach Pete Carroll pointed to the way Seattle’s defense finished while also saying Sherman needs to manage his emotions better.
“We’re emotional, it’s an emotional team, emotional guys, and we ride that emotion,” he said. “I’m not surprised. When we get that hot, we have to control it better so we don’t get in the way of what’s coming up. That’s what these guys are like. I am, too. We’ll figure it out. I thought it was an extraordinary job by our team. You saw those guys rally together to make sure to calm everybody down to get back to business, and look how we finished.”