Tweets dispatched by former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira last week felt as though they had a Seattle Seahawks vibe to them.
Pereira used Twitter to send out highlights from the NFL’s officiating conference. His first notable takeaway: Illegal contact and defensive holding will be two large points of emphasis this season.
Some take the grassy knoll approach to this news, feeling it’s clear the league just watched the Seahawks manhandle receivers on the way to a blowout win in Super Bowl XLVIII. It’s a conspiracy to slow Seattle.
For Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, it’s a compliment.
“That’s a beautiful thing,” Carroll said. “That’s respect, to me. If that’s the conversation, then it’s a sign of respect and people trying to figure it out. I think we’ve contributed to that.
“The rules that have been emphasized going into this year, there is some attention to the fact of aggressive play at the line of scrimmage. There was some talk of that at league meetings. The adjustments that they’ve made are palatable. We can handle it.”
In March, 13 rule change proposals were presented to the competition committee.
The 12th was “Modify pass interference so that it can be called within one yard of the line of scrimmage.” That rule was not approved, but it appears to have set up the illegal contact and defensive holding points of emphasis. The league has said it will counter the extra emphasis on those two defensive issues by calling more offensive pass interference.
That has been true in the first three days of Seahawks training camp. There have been at least a trio of flags for offensive pass interference since camp started.
Regardless, Seattle plans to alter its tactics without reducing its aggressiveness.
Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn likened the adjustment to teaching defensive players not to lead with the helmet two years ago. The Seahawks worked on lifting their heads and contacting offensive players shoulder first. The idea was to continue thumping without getting a flag.
“When we have the points of emphasis, we can either gripe about it or work to it,” Quinn said. “So, I think it was two years ago and it was the defenseless receivers. ‘Are they not going to be physical anymore?’ Totally not. We can still tackle and be really physical without using our head.
“This is along that way. Let’s not overreact. Let’s understand what’s being called; let’s adjust and play.”
Though the Seahawks have a reputation for a hands-on approach to receivers, Quinn said the pursuit is never to simply be a tough guy. It’s to be the most precise.
“We really, on the outside, try to be very technical,” Quinn said. “You see these guys playing strong, and that’s at the line of scrimmage. It’s not necessarily changing our style. We’re ready to play with really good technique, and that’s kind of the emphasis of this whole competing, ‘How good can you get?’ It’s all technique.”
Players such as free safety Earl Thomas, cornerback Richard Sherman and linebacker K.J. Wright — the latter of whom must be cognizant of the emphasis because he’s often assigned to mobile tight ends in pass coverage — said they are not concerned that officials will be even more on the lookout for illegal contact and holding.
“We are who we are,” Thomas said. “People understand that we’re very aggressive. The corners like to do their thing, and Kam (Chancellor, strong safety) and me, we do the same thing. So we can’t worry about that. We’ve got to stay true to who we are. At the end of the day, defense is dictating the pace of what’s going on. We proved that.”