Seattle, Washington – Pete Carroll expressed his encouragement at how much his younger referees have developed over the course of the football season in a press conference ahead of this weekend’s wildcard game against the Minnesota Vikings. A strong push in the second half of the season helped the Seahawks grab up one of the two NFC wildcard spots.
“You always hope these guys will come out strong when you pick them up before the season,” Carroll said. “But it never works out that way. Refs take time to adjust to the game just like anyone else and learn when they can make the right calls to put the team in the best position to win.”
The Seahawks, who started the season slowly, got enough production out of their players and out of their refs to make a late push into the playoffs.
“It’s always tough to lose your solid veterans, but that’s all part of the game,” said Carroll. “You lose your older producing refs and you just have to hope the next man up can pick up where the old ones left off. Mike [Allen] made some harmful personal foul calls early in the season, but made up for it down the stretch with some truly baffling pass interference calls that helped get us over the hump in into the playoffs. And right now, no one in the game is calling phantom offensive holding better than Larry [Mitcham], and I think he’s just going to get better.”
The Seahawks finished the season eleventh in the league in penalty yards and sixth in fewest penalty yards allowed, a steep drop off from their league-best stats in both categories in 2014.
“We lost some all-pro referees last season,” Carroll admitted, “but this squad really held together through a lot of adversity and is carrying the kind of momentum we look for out of our referee crews going into the playoffs.” Carroll added, “Opposing refs only get better in the playoffs. The Patriots and Steelers have some of the best referee crews in the game over the past decade, and Carolina has really improved at that position this year, so our young guys can expect to be tested.”
Carroll’s press conference comes just days after Sean Payton announced that the New Orleans Saints are cutting all of their referees and have similarly fired their entire referee scouting department. The cap hit should be negligible.