We all know about the Seahawks' penalty problems over the past three games. 29 penalties for 291 yards is ridiculous.
Certainly the offsides and false start penalties are inexcusable. But considering what this team is trying to build, here's another way to look at it: the Seahawks are gaining a reputation as a physical team that will punch you in the mouth and fight you for every last yard.
Ironically, Brandon Browner, a no-name cornerback from the CFL, is steadily gaining a reputation as the epitome of that image.
He's so physical that when he's near a kicker they just fall down (see his penalty for roughing the kicker in Week 1). Even when he's not on the field he gets called for penalties (see his 10-yard holding penalty against the Giants). When he blocks a gunner on the punt team his block is so ferocious, the referees see it as unnecessary roughness (like they did on Sunday against the Redskins).
Not bad for someone playing a position that is typically seen as the least physical on the field.
Let's reflect on who and what Brandon Browner is and what it says about this team:
In 2005, the year that the Seahawks were mounting their run to Super Bowl XL, Browner was an undrafted free agent out of Oregon State with the Denver Broncos. He broke his arm during the preseason and was waived by the Broncos in 2006. From there he was off to the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders.
Fast forward five years to Seahawks training camp when a knock-kneed, 6-foot-4, 220-pound corner showed up at practice down in Renton. The only thing that drew anyone's attention was how odd he looked lining up out at corner. During the preseason he showed some promise but his body seemed to get tangled up on itself and his timing was a bit off. Yet he was always around the ball.
Before training camp ended, about the time that Browner was beginning to gain some notice, Matt Pitman and I interviewed him after a practice. He seemed confused as to why we would have him on, answered questions with one-word responses and wore a serious look throughout the entire interview. His personality on the air was the same one I see on the field every Sunday – contentious.
I looked at Pitman afterward and said, "That was the toughest interview I've ever done! I love this guy!"
He doesn't want the media attention or the spotlight. He wants to go out and fight people for the ball every day and that's what he's done. Yes, he's picked up a few more penalties than other players but I'll take that every time. Let's not forget, we're talking about a cornerback.
Deion Sanders was a cornerback and one of the best of all-time, but "Neon Deion" never tackled anyone in his life and certainly was never anywhere near an unnecessary roughness call. Browner body-slams receivers and hits people so hard he gets personal fouls for knocking them too far out of bounds.
Mostly, what a great find. Nobody, and I mean nobody, was thinking this guy could play. Other than Warren Moon, how often do you find a diamond like Browner in the CFL? But Pete Carroll and Seahawks general manager John Schneider did, and he's having a huge impact on this team.
Schneider gave him the opportunity and Carroll believed in him. Along with Kam Chancellor and Red Bryant, I'd argue that he's the most promising and exciting player on this team.
I understand if you want to focus on the penalties and the downside of Browner, but I'll take a guy that will stand toe-to-toe with some of the best athletes in the world, body-slam them when necessary and fight them tooth and nail on every single play. Given what we've in the defensive backfield here in Seattle over the past few years, I for one can swallow a few pass interference and holding penalties on the way to interceptions and deflected passes.
Could it be possible that the entire tempo and personality of this defensive team is based on the tone set by a cornerback? I say yes.