Hawk Talk: Richard Sherman has been better than grades suggest

Dec 23, 2015, 11:41 AM | Updated: 11:47 am
Danny O’Neil believes Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is having the best season of his ca...
Danny O'Neil believes Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is having the best season of his career. (AP)
(AP)

Danny O’Neil hosted a live Seahawks chat Tuesday, as he does each week during the season. The full transcript can be found here. Highlights are below.

Easilyamused noted that the website ProFootballFocus.com has Seattle’s Richard Sherman nowhere near the top of its cornerback rankings this season.

O’Neil: Just because a website affixes a grade to a player’s performance does not mean that grade accurately reflects the player’s performance. It’s amazing to me that because a site is willing to use a ranking system more specific than most NFL reporters tell you is reasonable, that the assumption has been that site’s ranking system is the best thing going. Pro Football Focus is evaluating players without knowing two critical pieces of information: a) What the player was assigned to do on a specific play; b) How that player was coached to execute that assignment. Their grades are like a Yelp reviewer who looks at the list of ingredients in a dish, takes one bite and then tries to tell you the exact step in the preparation that either made or ruined the dish.

I like Football Outsiders more. I think DVOA is a pretty good measurement, and it’s especially good at filtering out garbage yards that don’t effect the outcome. And I believe that Sherman is having his best season.

Tom Page asked for O’Neil’s reasoning.

O’Neil: What big play has he given up? I can think of one. The second-quarter touchdown to Michael Floyd when Carson Palmer suckered him forward and exposed him in the corner. The touchdown pass to James Jones in the Green Bay game came with Sherman in coverage, but that was Earl Thomas’ responsibility he vacated because Aaron Rodgers was moving. Beyond that, he has kept everything in front of him. Everything. And go look what happened to Antonio Brown for a great example of his impact.

An anonymous guest asked about the history that Sherman and wide receiver Doug Baldwin have with Jim Harbaugh, who was their coach at Stanford.

O’Neil: I think that Harbaugh is an incredibly abrasive coach both when it comes to those he works around in the organization and those who play for him. I think he is really hard on players. I’m sure as a coach, he’s not anything but happy with the success Sherman and Baldwin have had. And in an honest moment, he might confess that perhaps he didn’t show the best judgment when it came to the talents and the pro potential of those two. On the other hand, Harbaugh might be hard-nosed enough to think that his criticism/rejection of the two helped fuel their success.

Tom Page asked if it bothers coach Pete Carroll that running back Marshawn Lynch is rehabbing away from the team and whether or not he sounds annoyed when asked by the media about the specifics of Lynch’s situation.

O’Neil: I think it’s more the repetitive nature of the question. Carroll has generally made it pretty clear that he doesn’t play word games. He doesn’t try to trick anybody or really mislead anyone. And on the flip side, he reserves the right to not tell you everything. So when he gives a vague answer, he’s being deliberately vague. And if asked to clarify, he’s going to continue to be vague. It’s not like there’s one question that’s going to make him crack Perry Mason-style and spill the beans. But Carroll being slightly annoyed would qualify as “overwhelmingly hospitable” if it were virtually any other NFL coach. My take – and this is only my opinion – Carroll would prefer that Lynch didn’t rehab on his own, and ideally would follow the program. But he doesn’t think it’s a battle worth fighting, and in each case when Lynch has done his own thing, he’s been ready to go when called upon.

Tom Page said, “No offense,” but Carroll plays the media “like a drum” and “manipulates the conversation exactly as he wants to.”

O’Neil: I’m not offended. You’re right. But he’s also not under oath and we don’t have subpoena power. We can’t appeal to a judge to force him to answer the question. There are times he’s asked a direct question, and he doesn’t come close to answering it. He’s asked a follow-up question and he doesn’t get any closer. What are you supposed to do then? You either initiate a confrontation – which probably still isn’t going to get you an answer – or you move on. It’s his press conference. The interviewee has more to say about the content than the interviewer. If you want to see what happens when a reporter tries to force a coach’s hand, Google “Mike McCoy walks out of press conference” and see what Eric Williams did. And when you go that route, it’s scorched earth.

Mr. Neutron asked if O’Neil is irritated by the general consensus that Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is the NFL’s MVP.

O’Neil: I’m not irritated by it. I understand it. I don’t think he’s the best choice. And given where things stand right now, I’d vote Russell Wilson. But Newton is the best player on the team with the best record. He’s got four more touchdown passes and six more rushing touchdowns than Wilson does.

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Hawk Talk: Richard Sherman has been better than grades suggest