Richard Sherman hoping for busier day in Seahawks-Packers rematch
RENTON – It was the ultimate sign of respect, and it came from perhaps the best quarterback in the NFL.
But after Aaron Rodgers and the Packers avoided throwing toward Richard Sherman altogether in Week 1, Seattle’s All-Pro cornerback was more frustrated than flattered, feeling like he hadn’t contributed to the Seahawks’ 36-16 victory even though he absolutely had.
He was fuming.
“On a scale of 1 to 10,” he recalled Wednesday, “12.”
The good news – for Sherman at least – is that it’s hard to imagine the same thing happening Sunday when Seattle and Green Bay meet again in the NFC Championship Game.
Along with the potential impact of Rodgers’ injured left calf, the question on everyone’s mind this week is whether he’ll throw toward the left side of Seattle’s defense, where Sherman almost exclusively operates.
Perhaps never has a quarterback been more scrutinized for the passes he didn’t attempt like Rodgers was following the opener in Seattle. He had statistically one of his worst games of the season, completing 22 of 33 passes for 189 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Not one of his attempts were to a receiver that Sherman was covering.
“That’s pretty rare when that happens,” coach Pete Carroll said. “I’ve heard their comments about that, which were: guys weren’t open or available when they wanted them to be, and it wasn’t such an intent to not throw it that way. And so that’s a real compliment to Richard in that game. But that’s pretty rare.”
It’s not unusual for teams to exercise a great deal of caution with Sherman, and understandably so. He led the league in interceptions last season despite being the least targeted among qualifying cornerbacks, which speaks not only to the respect that opposing quarterbacks show for him but also the risk they assume when throwing the ball his way.
But it isn’t as common to avoid him entirely.
“I think they still steered clear of Richard in general, but the ball has got to go both ways,” Carroll said. “I would expect and we expect that it’s not going to be the same thing where the whole game it goes the other way. I don’t think that’ll happen.”
Both Rodgers and Packers coach Mike McCarthy were second-guessed up and down after that first meeting, the criticism being that whatever risk they avoided probably wasn’t worth conceding a big chunk of the field, which is essentially what Green Bay did by steering clear of Sherman. Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell questioned the viability of that strategy when he was asked if he’d be surprised to see the Packers employ it again.
“I would be because we beat them by 20 points,” Maxwell said. “I think you should switch up your plan a little bit at least.”
Sherman insists he doesn’t have a good idea as to whether or not it will be different on Sunday. But if how he described the way he felt after that first meeting is any indication, he certainly has a preference.
“Everybody was like, ‘Man, that’s cool. Nobody threw to your side.’ But if you’re a player, you want to make plays in the game,” he said, “you feel you can help your team you want the ball coming your way more.”