On Friday I examined whether there was any kind of pattern among the 14 false start penalties that Germain Ifedi has accumulated to this point in his career, and with Ifedi’s reputation as a hothead I wanted to take a look at the 15-yard penalties which he has accumulated. To this point in his career he has been flagged four times for unnecessary roughness, taunting or unsportsmanlike conduct.
Here is a table of when those penalties occurred.
Nothing really jumps out of that table in terms of any pattern, of course, because it’s such a small amount of data. So, here’s what it looks like if I expand the data just a tiny bit.
Now, all of a sudden two of the four major penalties called on Ifedi have come on plays for which he was called for holding, with a third coming just two plays after he was called for holding. Interestingly, on the play against Houston on which Ifedi was called for holding he was facing off against LB Lamarr Houston. On the next play Ifedi and Houston faced off again, with Lamarr Houston tackling Rawls in the backfield for a loss of a yard. For those who read the article Friday about nerves potentially playing a role in Ifedi’s struggles with false starts, this could be an extension of his inexperience and nervousness.
On the next play Ifedi faced off with Lamarr Houston for a third time in a row. Ifedi’s anger had been raised and the result was somewhat predictable – Ifedi pancakes Houston into the secondary, landing on top of the defender after driving him into the ground, needlessly drawing a fifteen yard penalty for unnecessary roughness.
It’s no secret that when faced with adversity or uncertainty or a challenge, some may respond through anger or aggression. In looking at the fifteen yard penalties that Ifedi has incurred over the course of his still brief career, this could hold the potential to be able to explain three of the four major penalties called on Ifedi. But what about the fourth penalty? Here is the play description from the Pro Football Reference box score of the game.
Russell Wilson pass complete short middle to RussellWilson for -1 yards (tackle by Markus Golden). Russell Wilson fumbles (forced by Markus Golden), recoverd by Russell Wilson at SEA-25. Penalty on Germain Ifedi: Unsportsmanlike Conduct (Offsetting), Penalty on Frostee Rucker: Unsportsmanlike Conduct (Offsetting)
That’s a rather interesting play summary, so I’ll shed a little more light on it. On that play Ifedi properly picked up a stunting Calais Campbell and had him blocked effectively, keeping Campbell away from Wilson. However, as Wilson threw the ball, Campbell was able to get his hand up and bat Wilson’s pass. Russ then caught the batted ball and ran with it, which is when Markus Golden tackled him and forced the fumble. Campbell then jumped onto the loose ball pile, and Ifedi was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for grabbing Campbell and ripping him off the pile.
Now, on the play itself, Ifedi did nothing wrong, but it’s not hard to imagine that a rookie Ifedi, in his fourth career regular season game, saw the player he had been blocking jump into the pile after the loose ball and felt partially responsible. It was his man who had batted the pass backwards at Russ, but Ifedi performed about as well as one can expect a rookie to play against an All Pro on such a play. Now, I could be entirely off base and in no way correct in that guess, however, if one is willing to accept it, then that means all four of Ifedi’s 15-yard penalties have come following something he would view as one of his own mistakes.
Thus, it’s easily arguable that all four of the 15-yard penalties Ifedi has incurred during his career have come following what could be looked at as a personal failure by a nervous 22 or 23 year old, and an angry response would not be unexpected from someone who is dealing with significant adversity for the first time in their entire football career.
As such, whether one wants to accept Ifedi being a nervous 23 year old unsure how to react to adversity or not is up to the reader. The simple fact of the matter remains that all four of the 15-yard penalty flags that have been thrown in Ifedi’s direction came either concurrent with or immediately following what could be considered a personal failure by Ifedi.
That doesn’t strike me as a hothead; that strikes me as a scared 23 year old lashing out with anger.
And that can be corrected.