DK Metcalf's 2023 season has included a couple of touchdowns, an average of 15.3 yards per reception, and enough frustration to land atop coach Pete Carroll's board of penalized Seahawks.
Metcalf has been flagged five times in five games this season (including one penalty that was offsetting), but when asked about his penchant for penalties Wednesday, Metcalf didn't take the usual company line that typically promises to be more disciplined. Instead, he took a defiant stance.
"That's just a board to me. I'm not gonna change the way I play," Metcalf said, via The Athletic's Michael-Shawn Dugar. "If you look at the penalties, there's a taunting, unnecessary roughness, facemask, holding and, I think, one more in there [illegal blindside block]. I'm doing pretty good if I look at it and judge myself on how I play and just try to be consistent and have clean hands or whatever the case may be. I'm not gonna change who I am as a player or a person."
For what it's worth, Metcalf's unnecessary roughness penalty drawn in Sunday's loss to Cincinnati didn't exactly hurt the Seahawks. It wiped out a 4-yard gain earned by rookie running back Zach Charbonnet, but quarterback Geno Smith made up for Metcalf's mistake on the next play when he connected with Tyler Lockett for a gain of 32.
Still, the flag stood as part of a growing trend for Metcalf. When the penalty came down and the referee announced the unnecessary roughness penalty, it was easy to guess he'd assign the infraction to No. 14, a passionate player who has rarely shied from showing his emotions on the field.
"Have you had a bad day at work sometimes?" Metcalf asked a reporter when pressed on his tendency to get caught up in the moment. Naturally, the reporter responded affirmatively.
"So, that's all I nail it down to," Metcalf continued. "Nobody's perfect. I'm my own person, like I just said. I'm a competitive person. I'm not gonna shy away because (Carroll) put a penalty board on the screen. I'm just continue to be me."
Metcalf being Metcalf has largely been a positive experience for Seattle since he arrived via the 64th overall pick of the 2019 draft. He entered 2023 with 306 receptions for 4,218 yards and 35 touchdowns in his first four seasons, including a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2020, and he's served as a big-bodied target who complements Lockett (and rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba) quite well.
The penalties won't be a legitimate problem until they cost the Seahawks (3-2) a game. So far, that hasn't happened.
"We put all the penalties on the board in Monday's meetings and the guys who had the most were on the top, and he was up there with another guy," Carroll said, via ESPN. "We all have to acknowledge it and recognize what our issues are, whatever they are. It happens to be in this case he's getting called.
"He knows. He's got to clean it up. We have to make sure we're aware of how they're calling stuff. He's a very aggressive player, very physical and it stands out and he draws attention because of that. So we've got to be cleaner. He knows it and he's got to get it done."
It sounds as if Metcalf and Carroll are currently on different pages on the matter. Perhaps Metcalf will end up falling in line, starting this week against the Cardinals (1-5). The hope, though, is it doesn't take an egregious error to convince him of it.
"It's a competitiveness that's special in guys, but you have to channel it properly and that comes with experience, and sometimes it comes with the pain of it," Carroll said of Metcalf. "So the main thing is that we're addressing it and we're on it and he knows it and he wants to get it right. He doesn't want to hurt our team by making penalties, but he's not the only one. We've got to do way better in the penalty department."