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Seahawks are happening in Seattle

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  • Seahawks are happening in Seattle

    Seahawks are happening in Seattle
    By Lori Shontz

    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Coach Mike Holmgren (right) has had a steady rebuilding plan, which has ended up paying dividends for QB Matt Hasselbeck (8).
    (Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)

    It wasn't that long ago that on the entertaining Underground Seattle tours, which take tourists under the city to see the old city, now buried by a series of natural disasters, that guides used the city's professional football team as a punchline.

    Oh, Seattle's had it's share of disasters Earthquakes, fires . . . Seahawks.

    Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who arrived in town for the 2001 season, had no idea such jokes were being told. "That would hurt my feelings," he said. He meant it. The one-liner didn't make him laugh.

    The fact is, Seahawks jokes wouldn't get much of a laugh anymore.

    The Seahawks, who went to the playoffs as a wild card team last season, are returning five Pro Bowl players: Hasselbeck, running back Shaun Alexander, offensive tackle Walter Jones, offensive guard Steve Hutchinson and special teams star Alex Bannister. Their defense, anchored by former Rams lineman Grant Wistrom, is ranked No. 1 in the NFL.

    Although the Rams are the defending NFC West champions, the Seahawks are considered the team to beat, and they are also wearing the label "legitimate Super Bowl contender."

    All this from a team whose road record over the years has been another surefire laugh line, a team that had never quite captured the heart or mind of its city. Rams defensive end Bryce Fisher, who grew up in Seattle, is typical. He and his friends grew up rooting for the Raiders because the Seahawks were so bad.

    But for Sunday's game against the Rams at Quest Field, coach Mike Holmgren is expecting that the sold-out stadium full of screaming fans will be one of his team's advantages.

    "It's kind of like when it first happened in St. Louis," Wistrom said. "How fired up everybody was, how new it was to everybody. And the energy that you can feel. It's very exciting to be a part of something like that again, where everyone's appreciated and fans are fired up about it. All everybody wants to talk about is the 'Hawks right now."

    In this, his sixth season in Seattle after 13 successful seasons at Green Bay, Holmgren has finally put the Seahawks where he always believed they could be.

    "If the organization is willing to stay with you - if they believe in you, first of all . . . and they give you enough time, you should be able to improve," Holmgren said. "And they have done that with us. Now we have pretty good depth, our money situation's in pretty good shape capwise. Hopefully we can keep this thing going and get into the playoffs again."

    Holmgren knew from his opening days in Seattle that nudging the Seahawks toward respectability would be a process, and he also knew that in today's win-now society, some coaches and general managers (he served in both capacities until 2002) don't get enough time to prove themselves. He joked that the reason Seattle owner Paul Allen stuck with him so long "might have been the fact that I have an eight-year contract."

    One can make the argument that someone with a track record like Holmgren's - an assistant coach for two San Francisco Super Bowl champion teams, a head coach who led Green Bay to two Super Bowls, winning one - is more apt to convince an owner that he needs more time.

    The reality, Holmgren said, is more complicated.

    "I think we're in a different era than we were 15 years ago," he said. "The stadiums are different. Marketing's different. The size of your staff and building. The marketing people - it's different. The money's different. There's pressure, there's more pressure from more people to create a product on the field to allow you to do some of those other things. I think that enters into this thing.

    "You have new owners coming into the league that are used to winning in business or in how they got to be very wealthy or all those things, it's an interesting study. I've learned a lot."

    In Holmgren's first season, 1999, the Seahawks went 9-7 and earned a wild-card playoff spot. The next season, however, the team went 6-10, and doubts settled in.

    Holmgren and the front office had a longer view in mind. "We were going to go off the cliff on the salary cap, so we decided, 'Let's just bite the bullet and do it now.' Your record reflects that.'"

    The next season, Hasselbeck arrived, and Holmgren believed "finding our quarterback," even though he struggled at first, was a key step in the right direction. It fit in perfectly with his long-range plan.

    But when Hasselbeck arrived after three seasons in Green Bay, he did notice that the team hadn't exactly captured the imagination of the locals. "I felt blinded by the cynicism and negativity," he said.

    Part of the problem, he knew, was the team's cycle of futility. Since a flirtation with the Super Bowl in 1983 and 1984, when Steve Largent was still catching passes, the Seahawks had settled into mediocrity.

    Additionally, after the Kingdome was imploded to make way for a new stadium, the Seahawks had no home of their own. They played at the University of Washington's Husky Stadium, which further prevented them from building a fan base.

    "Saturday, the Huskies would play in front of 70,000 people," Hasselbeck said. "Sunday, we'd play in front of 25,000, and 15,000 of them would be rooting for the Raiders."

    With such sparse crowds, Seahawks games were often blacked out in Seattle, making it even more difficult for anyone who would have wanted to follow the team closely.

    Gradually, that perception has changed - to the point that Fisher's father, always a Seahawks fan, has something to really cheer about, and Fisher's friends suddenly abandoned the Raiders and converted to Seahawks fans.

    Like any coach, however, Holmgren is remaining cautious in his predictions.

    "Our toughest games are yet to come," he said. "It's going to get much more difficult for us to keep that fire and energy in the city as times go on."

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • Nick
    What's wrong with the Seahawks?
    by Nick
    What's wrong with the Seahawks?
    By TIM KORTE, AP Sports Writer
    November 15, 2004

    KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) -- Last summer, the Seattle Seahawks were a trendy pick to reach the Super Bowl.

    As they keep reminding themselves, that goal remains attainable. Yet one day after their second loss to NFC West rival St. Louis, everyone from coach Mike Holmgren down was asking the same question.

    What's wrong with the Seahawks?

    ``Some of the things that happened yesterday, I'm struggling for answers,'' Holmgren said Monday. ``And I don't like that feeling.''

    This was one of Seattle's most celebrated games so far, a rematch with the Rams who struck for 23 unanswered points in the final eight minutes on Oct. 10, when St. Louis won 33-27 in overtime.

    This time, the Seahawks (5-4) allowed 17 quick points. Seattle's offense couldn't keep up, nor could it reach the end zone. Matt Hasselbeck was 15-of-36 for 172 yards with an interception, and was plagued by poor decisions and drops.

    ``I expect us to be better than that,'' Holmgren said. ``We missed. We just didn't execute. We didn't catch it very well. We didn't throw it very well, as well as I think we can.''

    Shaun Alexander gained 176 yards rushing to put him over the 1,000-yard mark in the ninth game, but he had a key fumble after a nice 35-yard run in the fourth quarter when Seattle was trying to close a 20-12 margin.

    Nobody knows what's wrong.

    ``If I knew, I would tell you,'' Alexander said. ``Obviously, we haven't figured it out. We all have different ideas of what would help. As a team, we're not doing it. We'll eventually figure it out and go from there.''

    Holmgren said repeatedly back at training camp that a deep postseason run was possible, provided Seattle's best players all performed well throughout the season.

    So far, that hasn't happened.

    A Seattle defense that stormed its first three opponents has been up-and-down since. Marc Bulger made six straight completions on the Rams' opening drive Sunday, and he was 11-of-13 with a 14-0 lead after seven minutes.

    ``We made it too easy,'' Holmgren said.

    Hasselbeck -- a Pro Bowler last season -- has had some solid games, mixed with struggles that leave Holmgren scratching his head.

    ``We're not far from it really exploding and being good,'' Hasselbeck insisted. ``Just like the week before when there were a lot of good plays, it's just 6 inches and it's a good play. That's kind of where we're at.''

    Great, but they've been saying that for weeks now. Hasselbeck believes the Seahawks ``are on the other side of that fine line,'' and he maintains there's optimism flowing through the locker room.

    Seattle, though, is teetering -- poised to go one way or the other.

    -11-16-2004, 08:37 AM
  • Nick
    Holmgren only coaching one more year in Seattle
    by Nick
    Holmgren to coach Seahawks for one more season
    By José Miguel Romero
    Seattle Times staff reporter

    KIRKLAND -- Mike Holmgren is coming back to the Seahawks for one last season.

    He confirmed that this afternoon in a news conference at team headquarters, ending all questions about his immediate future. He said the 2008 season will be his last as coach.

    Holmgren said last today that he needed a few days to discuss his future -- either retiring or returning to fulfill at least the final year on his contract with Seattle -- with his wife Kathy over a short vacation in Arizona. He returned from that trip earlier this week.

    "Kathy and I came to a decision this weekend to finish my contract, and we're very happy about it," Holmgren said. "We're going to go after it hard one more year."

    Holmgren, 59, has coached the Seahawks since 1999, guiding the team to five straight postseason appearances and four consecutive NFC West titles along with a Super Bowl appearance in the 2005 season.

    He came to Seattle from the Green Bay Packers with an eight-year contract, then signed a two-year extension just before the last year of that original deal in 2006. That was just a few months removed from the team's only Super Bowl appearance.

    Holmgren was the Seahawks' general manager along with being coach from 1999 to 2002 before relinquishing the GM position. Tim Ruskell has been Seattle's GM since 2005.

    Holmgren said last week he might consider another contract extension, but his choices came down to either walking away or staying for another season.

    Holmgren's record with Green Bay and Seattle is 170-110, one win behind Joe Gibbs for 10th in NFL history. He is 86-68 in nine seasons with Seattle and passed Chuck Knox this season for most victories by a Seahawks coach in franchise history.

    Leaving town at the end of a season and decompressing before making a decision to return as coach is nothing new to Holmgren, who has mulled his future at this time of the year several times since coming to Seattle.
    -01-22-2008, 05:07 PM
  • Nick
    Holmgren staying put
    by Nick
    Holmgren staying put
    Seahawks sources end speculation about coach leaving for ***** job

    KIRKLAND -- When Mike Holmgren holds his season-ending news conference today, the Seahawks coach will discuss the things that went wrong in 2004 and his plans for how to get it right in 2005.

    Things remain status quo despite media speculation in Seattle and San Francisco that Holmgren could be fired or decide to leave Seattle after six seasons.

    A season that began with high expectations might have veered off course, but sources yesterday said club president Bob Whitsitt and Holmgren have decided to stay the course.

    That was apparent at the team's headquarters yesterday, one day after the players cleared out their lockers and two days removed from their loss to the St. Louis Rams in the first round of the playoffs.

    Holmgren met with Whitsitt yesterday, as well as his coaching staff. The only sure change there is not surprising, as special teams coach Mark Michaels will not be retained after his units ranked among the worst in the league in several key categories.

    Whitsitt was not available, and Holmgren declined to discuss the situation as he left the building last night.

    "I'll talk to you tomorrow," he said.

    So that's good news for the coach?

    "Hope so," he said with a smile.

    The conjecture over Holmgren's status with the Seahawks grew last week when the San Francisco ***** fired Dennis Erickson, the coach who was terminated by the Seahawks in 1999 to open the way for Holmgren to be hired.

    Holmgren is from San Francisco and was an assistant coach with the ***** from 1986-91, when the franchise won two Super Bowls. He has two years remaining on his contract with the Seahawks, and the ***** have not requested permission to speak with Holmgren about their vacancy.

    Holmgren has said he would like to finish his career with the Seahawks, and that he and his wife, Kathy, have settled into an enjoyable lifestyle here.

    He also believes the Seahawks are close to becoming a playoff-winning team, despite the stumbles that prevented this season from being all that it could have been.

    "We took one more step this year over last year, believe it or not, when we won the division," Holmgren said after Saturday's game at Qwest Field, the last time he spoke publicly. "That was a goal. One of these years we're going to win a playoff game and take the next step.

    "(Saturday) was a tough one, but it will happen if we can keep the team together."

    With his situation settled, Holmgren, Whitsitt and general manager Bob Ferguson can channel their efforts into re-signing at least some, if not most, of the 16 players scheduled to become...
    -01-11-2005, 06:48 AM
  • RamWraith
    NFL suspends Seahawks starting RT Locklear for 1 game
    by RamWraith
    KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) The NFL has suspended Seahawks starting right tackle Sean Locklear for Sunday's game at Kansas City for violating its personal conduct policy.

    Locklear was arrested Jan. 15 on a charge of assaulting his girlfriend outside a downtown Seattle nightspot. In July, Locklear reached an agreement with prosecutors that avoided a trial. It requires him to perform community service for the next two years, undergo an evaluation and pay court costs.

    The suspension is without pay, meaning Locklear forfeits $25,000 - 1/17th of his $425,000 base salary for this season. The third-round draft choice in 2004 drove away from team headquarters during practice Friday soon after the Seahawks learned of the suspension. He is eligible to return to Seattle's active roster on Monday.

    Tom Ashworth will make his first start for the Seahawks in Locklear's place against the Chiefs. Ashworth started 30 regular-season games over the previous three seasons for the New England Patriots, 27 of them at right tackle.

    Coach Mike Holmgren said he ``had an inkling'' that Locklear could be suspended sometime this season, but he was surprised by the timing.

    ``Every once in a while I am surprised by what takes place. And this is one of those,'' Holmgren said. ``But it is what it is.''

    Locklear was already questionable with a left ankle injury.

    Seattle also will be missing league MVP Shaun Alexander, Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, 2005 leading receiver Bobby Engram and starting left guard Floyd Womack. All are injured.

    Kansas City quarterback Damon Huard, who has been filling-in for injured starter Trent Green, missed practice Friday with a groin strain. He is listed as questionable. Rookie Brodie Croyle practiced in his place and would, like Seattle counterpart Seneca Wallace, be making his first NFL start.

    Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said he will decide Sunday if Huard will play.

    The Seahawks have already made up their minds.

    ``Well, I suspect we will get Damon Huard,'' Holmgren said with a wry smile.

    Engram ran routes with Seattle's practice squad on Friday, his first scrimmaging since a thyroid condition sidelined him following the Oct. 1 loss at Chicago. Holmgren said Engram continues to get fatigued easily as doctors try to slow his accelerated heart rate with medication.

    ``He gets tired - and he was one of those guys like the Energizer bunny. He could go all day,'' Holmgren said. ``This is a new feeling for him, and it's a little uncomfortable for him.''

    Holmgren said the 11th-year veteran will have more testing on Monday to determine if Engram could possibly play Nov. 6 against Oakland. The coach said Engram's availability is a ``week-to-week thing.''

    Engram refused comment until next week.
    -10-28-2006, 06:22 AM
  • Nick
    SEAHAWKS: League insiders say team is in disarray
    by Nick
    League insiders say team is in disarray
    By Greg Bishop
    Seattle Times staff reporter

    KIRKLAND — As the Seahawks' search for a team president stretches into Day 26 this morning, the free-agency clock most certainly is ticking and what the team calls "due diligence" is translating into "past due" in some NFL circles.

    There are 16 Seahawks scheduled to become free agents on March 2 and five restricted free agents scheduled to entertain other teams' offers, which the Seahawks have the right to match.

    There is not, at present, a team president, a vice president of football operations nor a college scouting director — three executive positions vacated in the past month.

    Each problem compounds the other, leaving a front office filled with more uncertainty than people to handle one of the most vital offseasons in the history of the franchise.

    "They are in the worst situation of any team in the league, with that many free agents and their front-office situation," said Sean Salisbury, a former Seahawk and current ESPN analyst. "It's called chaos. And that's what's going on in Seattle."

    The Times posited the Seahawks' situation to a dozen agents, executives and analysts around the league. What emerged was something akin to Chaos Theory Lite.

    The Seahawks are not facing an impossible mission. Not yet, anyway. What they are facing is less than a month to hire a president, a vice president and a college scouting director, evaluate players for free agency, ink as many of their free agents as they deem necessary and prepare for the draft.

    "I couldn't see too many other places putting themselves in this predicament," said Randy Cross, an analyst for CBS. "I imagine it doesn't exactly expedite the process. For the Seahawks, it's safe to say the better part of the foundation of their franchise is sitting there on hold."

    The first three weeks of the Seahawks' presidential search was perceived around the league as an exercise in foot dragging. Late last week, the team brought former cap expert Mike Reinfeldt on as a consultant, a move one NFC general manager called "the second-best thing they've done in a while" — a subtle nod to the firing of former president Bob Whitsitt on Jan. 14 being the first.

    Ted Thompson, then VP of football operations, left the same day to become general manager of the Green Bay Packers. Scot McCloughan, Seattle's former college scouting director, left last week to become VP of player personnel in San Francisco.

    Agents for Seahawks free agents were dealing mainly with Jay Nienkark, director of player administration, before Reinfeldt arrived. But they didn't know who would make the final call or when. Reinfeldt has stabilized some of that anxiety; each agent polled had already received...
    -02-10-2005, 11:56 AM