Tag Archives: Richard Sherman

Jim Harbaugh as undisciplined as the Seahawks he mocks

People like to say sports teams take on the personality of the head coach.

Under Mike Holmgren, you could say the Seahawks had a workmanlike personality, never saying or doing anything to intentionally draw attention to themselves. They simply went about their business week after week, seemingly content to stay hidden in the Pacific Northwest with the journalists and bloggers talking about everyone else.

Under Pete Carroll, there’s been a transformation of the Seahawks’ personality. Suddenly, they don’t seem quite so content with being the National Football League’s afterthought. They have chips on their shoulders, and they aren’t afraid to talk about them.

While these two identities couldn’t be more different, they do have one thing in common. They reflect the personality of their head coaches. Holmgren was a proven winner with a formula he saw bring the Lombardi Trophy to Green Bay. So upon arriving in Seattle following the 1998 season, there wasn’t a need for a bunch of fanfare and self-promotion. He saw what he had done, and most importantly, he knew everyone else had seen it too.

Carroll was a proven winner upon coming to Seattle as well. But not a Super Bowl winner. Sure, he had led USC to two Associated Press national championships. Sure, he had dominated the entire land of college football for the better part of a decade. But he hadn’t proven he could win in the NFL, and had actually failed the last time he was given an opportunity. Anyone who thinks Carroll doesn’t coach with a chip on his shoulder couldn’t be more clueless.

Enter Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers. Before Harbaugh took over as head coach prior to the 2011 season, the 49ers were the type of team everyone knew was talented, but just couldn’t find a way to consistently prove it. A lot like the Arizona Cardinals prior to Ken Whisenhunt. As the last two years have passed, with San Francisco winning back-to-back NFC West championships and playing in last year’s Super Bowl, the 49ers have finally proven it. Confidence has been a huge part of that. Harbaugh has that confidence, and now San Francisco has it as well.

Harbaugh, however, has another personality characteristic that isn’t so endearing. And if he’s not careful, it could ultimately be what keeps him from ever winning a Super Bowl.

He’s undisciplined.

There’s an unwritten rule that you don’t talk about issues surrounding other teams in the league. You talk about your team, and your team alone.  Harbaugh broke from that code this week when he mused to the media about the Seahawks’ recent performance-enhancing drugs problem.

“I’ve definitely noticed it,” Harbaugh told reporters, responding to a question about the Seahawks’ PED issue. He could have ended it right there. Said it was an issue the Seahawks had to deal with and left it at that. No more comment. But Harbaugh, never one to let a good taunting opportunity go by the wayside, kept going.

“You don’t know what it is,” he continued. “Even when people say what it is, you don’t know that’s what it is. … But the NFL doesn’t release what it actually is. So you have no idea. You’re taking somebody at their word, that I don’t know that you can take them at their word, understanding the circumstances.”

Okay. He got the jab in. Wait, he still wasn’t finished?

“Play by the rules,” he went on. “And you always want to be above reproach. Especially when you’re good, because you don’t want people to come back and say they’re winning because they’re cheating. … So we want to be above reproach in everything and do everything by the rules. Because if you cheat to win, then you’ve already lost.”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what Harbaugh was saying. You can’t trust the Seahawks to say and do the right thing and they’re a bunch of cheaters.

Reporters all too eager to see the comments escalate into a full-blown media circus asked Carroll what he thought of what Harbaugh said. Carroll squashed the story for the most part, but did allow that he wasn’t sure about talking about someone else’s team.

I suspect Carroll will let his team do the talking on Sept. 15. My guess is the 49ers are going to come to loathe playing Sunday Night Football games in Seattle.

You’d think Harbaugh would have learned his lesson last year after allegedly taunting Seahawks’ players following the 49ers’ 13-6 victory over Seattle in San Francisco. The Seahawks repaid him with a 42-13 beatdown for the whole country to see in December on Sunday Night Football. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman made sure to get in a shot of his own afterward by declaring it as a birthday present for Harbaugh, who had just turned 49 that day. Sherman actually prodded Coach Carroll to score another touchdown and go for two to give the Seahawks 50 (a gesture dripping with irony since it was Harbaugh’s Stanford team — which included Sherman — that pulled that trick against Carroll while at USC), but Carroll declined, saying that’s not what he’s about.

These shenanigans aren’t anything new for anyone who has followed Harbaugh and what he has done in the past though. Aside from going for two just to get to 50 against USC, Harbaugh continued his taunting after the game as he was walking out to midfield to shake Carroll’s hand. “Look at them all running in,” Harbaugh was heard mockingly saying as the Trojans’ players ran toward the tunnel. Then, at Washington the following year, Harbaugh was heard in the tunnel shouting at his players following a 41-0 Cardinal pasting of the Huskies.

“Dominating!” he reportedly said. “We kicked their ass every which way! One hell of a job on both sides of the line! Dominant, dominant! What are you guys, 5-1, 6-1 against that group? That’s the highest-paid coaching staff around!”

Could have left that for the locker room, but I guess he had to make sure the Huskies fans heard it.

There’s no question certain Seahawks are undisciplined. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t have PED issues. Sherman wouldn’t say he’s better at life than ESPN’s Skip Bayless and goat Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White. But these are individual players and each individual has his own unique personality. Not everyone on the Seahawks’ roster goes around taking banned substances and talking garbage.

But for a head coach to engage in such childish antics? When it’s been shown that teams take on the personality of the head coach, it’s a problem when that head coach has a personality like Harbaugh’s. How can Harbaugh expect his team to be disciplined if he isn’t himself?

Some will brush off this notion because of the success Harbaugh enjoyed at Stanford, and has enjoyed at San Francisco. But I would caution those people; he’s only been with the 49ers for two years. And a lot of his most successful players were ones he had no hand in putting on the team. It will be interesting to see going forward, the more the players actually become Harbaugh’s own hand-picked players, whether they start to show the same lack of discipline, either on or off the field. I wonder if we’ll ever see one of his players punch a member of the media for calling him out.

One thing’s for sure though. If he wanted to give the Seahawks yet another chip on their shoulders, he succeeded. And we can agree, Sept. 15 can’t come soon enough.


Breaking down Richard Sherman’s competition

As if Richard Sherman needed another excuse to have a chip on his shoulder.

It’s no secret the Seahawks’ 2011 fifth-round Stanford selection revels in perceived disrespect to fuel his play on the field. And although that disrespect is clearly diminishing the more he plays, Thursday night proved it still exists.

On Thursday night’s unveiling of the “NFL: Top 100 Players of 2013,” Sherman checked in at No. 50. At No. 50, Sherman will be the third-ranked cornerback of 2013. As far as cornerbacks go and where they fit on the Top 100 scale, that seems about right considering Denver’s Champ Bailey checked in at No. 46 a season ago as the third-rated cornerback in the NFL.

But are there really two cornerbacks in the NFL better than Sherman right now? According to a poll immediately following the rankings, 79 percent disagreed. And of all ten players revealed on Thursday night, Sherman is currently the second-most underrated — behind only New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning at No. 43 — according to fan rankings on NFL.com.

So what about the tangible evidence? Without knowing definitively yet who will be ahead of Sherman, let’s look at the competition and see where Sherman stacks up.

Sherman tallied eight interceptions, returning one for a touchdown, while defending 24 passes, forcing three fumbles, notching one sack and returning a blocked field goal attempt for a touchdown. According to profootballreference.com, Sherman’s approximate value was 19 — tied with Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson for second in the NFL. His eight interceptions were also tied for second in the NFL and at the end of the season he was named first-team All-Pro.

Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman was the other All-Pro selection and therefore would seem to have the edge over anybody else worth considering better than Sherman. Tillman didn’t exactly intercept a ton of passes in 2012 (3), but he returned all three for touchdowns and forced a staggering 10 fumbles. Still, his approximate value was only 16.

Arizona’s Patrick Peterson was an All-Pro cornerback in 2011, but took a step backward in 2012. Peterson picked off seven passes, but returned none for touchdowns, made no sacks, forced no fumbles and defended 17 passes. Without the four punt returns for touchdowns he had in 2011, his approximate value dropped from 21 to 13.

Antonio Cromartie is seemingly the last challenger. Cromartie took on an even larger role with the New York Jets a season ago with the injury of Darrelle Revis, and ended up with a Pro Bowl selection for his efforts. Like Tillman, Cromartie managed three picks, but none were returned for touchdowns and unlike Tillman, he didn’t have a slew of forced fumbles. In fact, he didn’t even have one. His approximate value was 10.

Obviously, these are all extremely talented cornerbacks that bring a lot to their respective teams. And it’s obviously subjective when deciding how to weight statistics. For me, the tiebreaker comes in Sherman’s ability to back up his notoriously loud mouth. This is a guy who chased down and taunted Tom Brady after the Seahawks defeated the Patriots, told a Redskins’ receiver he sucked before waving the fans goodbye after Seattle won at Washington in the playoffs and challenged Roddy White’s toughness by essentially saying the Atlanta wide receiver was too afraid to play on the outside. When you flap your gums as much as Sherman does, there’s even more pressure to perform. Every receiver wants to be the guy to shut you up and laugh in your face. The fact that Sherman was able to talk as much as he did, put as much pressure on himself as he did, and still come out of it with eight picks and an All-Pro selection to his name, elevates him to a level above his competition.