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  • Seattle offense clicks behind running back

    By Lori Shontz
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Saturday, Nov. 13 2004

    It isnít like Seattle running back Shaun Alexander is invisible, exactly. He
    has gained more than 1,000 yards every season since 2001. He went to the Pro
    Bowl last season. Headed into Sundayís game with the Rams, he is the NFCís
    leading rusher with 879 yards.

    But no, heís not the leagueís most prominent player, not the guy whoís all over
    television, endorsing products or breaking yet another run on the highlight
    shows. But thatís exactly what Alexander expected after he was drafted by the
    Seahawks in the first round of the 2000 draft.

    "Itís bittersweet both ways," Alexander said. "It would be great to be in a
    city where thereís bright lights and all the commercials, to be with the best
    of the best. And then, thereís times where youíre (thinking), ĎMan, you know
    what? Letís just go out to the nicest restaurant in town and not be hassled.í"

    Alexander laughed. "I guess for me, the simplest way to take it is I enjoy
    wherever I am, and Iím going to have fun wherever Iím at."

    For the past two weeks, the best place for Alexander has been on the football
    field, as the focal point for the Seahawksí offense. Seattle broke a three-game
    losing streak on Halloween, when Alexander rushed for 195 yards and a touchdown
    on 32 carries. A week ago, the Seahawks beat San Francisco thanks largely to
    Alexander, who carried 26 times for 160 yards and two touchdowns.

    Seattle coach Mike Holmgren, however, doesnít think his teamís recent success
    is due solely to rediscovering Alexander, who rushed for only 77 and 65 yards,
    respectively, in losses to the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals.

    "It seems that way, I know it seems that way," Holmgren said. "But really, the
    games unfold the way they unfold. But ... having said that, yeah, I think we
    have a really good running back, and Iím going to hand him the ball as long as
    weíre gaining yards running the ball."

    But as Rams defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson observed, Seattle quarterback Matt
    Hasselbeck was struggling a bit, and it made sense for the Seahawks to balance
    out their offense. "Theyíre riding on his back, and thatís smart ó heís a heck
    of a player," Jackson said of Alexander. "Theyíre trying to be balanced, and as
    good as Hasselbeck is, heís still a young quarterback."

    Holmgren agreed.

    "Yeah, our running game helps the quarterback, thereís no question about that,"
    he said. "The other thing, we considered some things, and we had a volume of
    offense that I think was unmanageable."

    Alexander put it like this: The pressure was on Holmgren to make the perfect
    play calls and for Hasselbeck to make the perfect throws. He provides balance.

    And like most running backs, the more carries Alexander gets, the happier he
    is. "Do I want it? Of course," he said, laughing. "It makes things go very easy
    for me, to set things up with running the ball. I donít have to shoot for a big
    play every time I tough it. Itís just to get our running game going because I
    know Iíll get it again."

    Holmgren said the biggest difference between Alexander this season Alexander in
    previous seasons is his consistency. Holmgren called him a natural runner,
    someone whoís durable and hard to tackle.

    "I think any player at any position, all of a sudden in this league, comes to
    the point where he says, "OK, Iím playing at this level, I want to play at the
    next one. What do I have to do to do better?í

    "And a lot of that comes with offseason training, or how he practices ... not
    just Shaun, Iím talking about anybody. It just happens, theyíre all pretty
    young guys still ó fourth year, youíre still a pup in this business. Heís
    having a very, very consistently good year for us."

    One thing that has paid off for Alexander this season is, as Holmgren
    suspected, his offseason training. At a golf outing for his foundation in
    Alabama over the summer, he met some friends and associates of Herschel Walker,
    and the talk turned to Walkerís legendary sit-up and push-up regimens.

    Convinced that he needed something else in addition to a sprint coach and a
    weights coach, Alexander began doing sets of sit-ups and push-ups, 100 a time
    at a minimum. He started early ó "You donít even get breakfast. You want eggs?
    Nah, you want push-ups" ó and did as many as eight sets during the day, He saw
    results quickly.

    "It was just amazing how when we started, and then going through the whole
    summer, how much stronger I felt on the inside," Alexander said. "All core
    work. ... I can really tell in these games ó it feels like Iím running through
    things, breaking a lot more tackles, staying stronger through the games. I
    think itís from that."

    Alexanderís breakout season may be perfectly timed; he will be a free agent
    after this season, and he will probably receive intense interest from teams
    looking for a feature back. And yes, he admits, the chance to get more
    recognition is an attractive one.

    "When youíre up in the Northwest, youíre almost like a kept secret," Alexander
    said. "Itís bittersweet, though. At times you wish you were the guy on ESPN and
    everyoneís talking about, but at the same time, itís really cool to be flying
    up under the radar where people donít know youíre that good, or theyíre just
    (saying), ĎDid he have a couple of good games?í because they donít know about
    your whole career, how itís been going pretty well.

    "I take it on both sides. For me, I donít really worry about trying to get the
    national praise. My biggest thing is the Super Bowl. I think when you win Super
    Bowls, you get whatever kind of praise you want."

Related Topics


  • DJRamFan
    [Seahawks] Alexander regrets 'stab' comments
    by DJRamFan

    KIRKLAND -- Wearing a "Division Champion" hat, a Shaun Alexander Foundation T-shirt and his ever-present grin, the Seahawks' Pro Bowl running back didn't look, sound or act like someone who had been stabbed in the back.

    But it was his caustic comments rooted in frustration after the team's division-clinching victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday that prompted Alexander to hold a news conference yesterday -- overshadowing what should have been a feel-good day for a team that struggled but still found a way to win the NFC West title.

    Grant M. Haller / P-I
    Shaun Alexander's news conference yesterday attracted some 35 members of the news media to Seahawks headquarters. "It got the best of me and I definitely blurted out stuff I shouldn't have said," he said.
    "I think the biggest thing in the world is how apologetic I am to this whole situation -- how me and going after a record, and my feelings about a record, could even take any excitement, any of the light away from winning a championship," Alexander said.

    That is, however, exactly what has happened after Alexander finished the season with 1,696 rushing yards, one fewer than the New York Jets' Curtis Martin.

    It was Alexander's contention after the game that coach Mike Holmgren calling a quarterback sneak by Matt Hasselbeck from the Atlanta 1-yard line for what proved to be the game-winning score cost him a chance to be the first Seahawk to lead the league in rushing.

    "Are you kidding me? You know the play," Alexander said after the game. "We all know what it was. Stabbed in the back."

    It was the second of his three references to being stabbed in the back in a short, eruptive exchange with only a few reporters before the team's public relations staff stepped in. Alexander later talked to more reporters, but did not repeat the inflammatory phrase.

    "It got the best of me and I definitely blurted out stuff I shouldn't have said," Alexander said yesterday. Of his stabbed in the back analogy, he added, "That was just a little too extreme. That's just an extreme statement."

    He also quashed any thoughts that Holmgren had deliberately called the quarterback sneak to deprive him of the rushing title.

    "He couldn't have done it on purpose," Alexander said. "He's not like that."

    Sources confirmed yesterday that Alexander does not have incentive clauses in the contract he signed as a rookie in 2000 that cost him a bonus for failing to lead the league in rushing. But he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent March 2, and was asked if Sunday's frustration would be a factor in him signing elsewhere.

    "Everyone knows I...
    -01-05-2005, 05:31 PM
  • RamWraith
    Rams Search for Ways to Slow Alexander
    by RamWraith
    Wednesday, November 9, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    There are few teams in the NFL that know Seattle running back Shaun Alexander better than the Rams.

    Of course, there are two conclusions to be drawn from that. One, that means St. Louis should have a good idea of what he is going to do when the Rams and Seahawks meet in Seattle on Sunday.

    No. 2, though, is that there is probably not a team in the league more tired of seeing Alexander than the Rams.

    That intrigue creates excitement on both sides of the ball. What can the Rams do to finally slow Alexander down? What can Alexander do to stay one step ahead?

    That part of the challenge has Alexander excited.

    ďWhat I expect is for them to find different, creative ways to load the box and cover up some of their defensive protections for (quarterback) Matt [Hasselbeck] and the receivers,Ē Alexander said. ďThatís football. Itís exciting because you feel like youíre watching film and youíre like, gosh, I know all of these guys. We have played them so many times. They get a new guy here, a new wrinkle there, but the heart of it is the same. And thatís the same way it is with us. They know us, and we know them.Ē

    Since Alexanderís arrival in the NFL, he has played the Rams eight times, racking up 756 yards on 150 carries for an average of just over 5 yards per attempt. Alexander has scored six touchdowns in those games as well, making him a huge thorn in the side of the Rams.

    Alexander as a rushing threat isnít a problem exclusive to the Rams, though. He has been doing it to just about every team he plays.

    Eight games into the season, Alexander is having perhaps his best as a pro. He leads the NFL in rushing yards (949), average per attempt (5.4) and rushing touchdowns (14).

    Although Alexander doesnít claim to be the fastest, the strongest or the most talented back in the league, it is clear that there are few backs or even players that produce as consistently as he does every year.

    ďďYou know what, for me I have done the same thing that I have done every year, which is I study and break myself down every year, and then I say, if I add this to my game Iím going to be a little better,Ē Alexander said. ďAnd thatís what I have done. So if you look, every year I have got a little bit better in just about every category. And I think itís just from me studying my own self, being real with myself, and saying this needs to be turned into this kind of play.Ē

    The scary part is that Alexander actually has gotten better every year. There are few aspects of the game that he doesnít do well and he has made a point of improving in the few areas that he used to consider weaknesses.
    Alexander has even improved in areas that would seem to leave little room for improvement.

    After posting 16, 18,...
    -11-10-2005, 04:54 AM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Soap Opera In Seattle
    by r8rh8rmike
    Published: Wednesday, August 17, 2005

    Alexander's last hurrah?
    Seahawks running back likes Seattle, but realizes it might be time to move on

    By Scott M. Johnson
    Herald Writer

    CHENEY - He's been to two Pro Bowls, broken 15 team records and won an NFC rushing crown.

    And yet Shaun Alexander still feels incomplete.

    "I have not had a successful NFL career in my eyes," Alexander said Tuesday night, during the final week of another Seattle Seahawks training camp.

    His lament comes from an elusive playoff victory, the inability to get to a Super Bowl and, to a degree, his failure to completely win over the hometown fans.

    If there were ever a year to do it, this would be the one. Because the way things stand now, Alexander could be in his final season as a Seahawk.

    "The greatest spiritual growth I've had this year is that, even though I love Seattle and my family loves Seattle, that it might be the time for us to go," said Alexander, who is playing under a one-year, $6.323 million contract that stipulates he can't be designated the Seahawks' franchise player in 2006. "So that was kind of hard for me to swallow. It was like, wow, it really might be time for me to leave here."

    In his next breath, Alexander expressed optimism that he'll be signed to a long-term contract. A half hour later, he flip-flopped again.

    "I've told everybody from the beginning that I just plan to have a contract before the (regular) season starts," Alexander said during a 33-minute interview. "If I don't have a contract before the season starts, it's definitely because the Seahawks have a plan for me not to be here."

    Entering the sixth season of an already-impressive NFL career, Alexander continues to be an enigma. As much as fans want to love him, his actions sometimes leave them feeling hesitant.

    He might just have one more year to get everyone back on the bandwagon - if that's even possible.

    "I don't think that I have to win a lot of fans over," Alexander said. "There are always one or two fans that aren't going to like somebody. I'm sure there are still fans (in Boston) that say: 'Tom Brady, why did we draft that guy?'

    "I'm telling you, I was in Boston when one of my friends got married, and you'd be amazed. They'll be like: 'If only we had a guy who could run like Michael Vick ...' It's three Super Bowls. What are you shooting for here?"

    As he embarks on what may well be the final season of his Seahawks career, Alexander is setting his goals characteristically high. He's hoping to eclipse his own franchise records of 1,696 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns from last season and believes that a first-ever NFL rushing title is well within his grasp.

    -08-20-2005, 10:02 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Seahawks] Readers respond to Shaun Alexander
    by DJRamFan


    It must be a personal thing for Holmgren
    I believe that coach Mike Holmgren did a great disservice to the fans, the Seattle area, the franchise, and the offensive line by not giving Shaun Alexander the opportunity to score and at least share the rushing title.

    How many touchdowns does Alexander have from 1 to 3 yards out? Quite a few. Coach Holmgren put an already injured Matt Hasselbeck at further risk with the quarterback sneak.

    Why would Coach Holmgren want to screw Alexander? I don't know, but I believe it was purposeful. It had to be. Holmgren must be a happy man: winning the game and a playoff spot, plus stopping Alexander one freakin' yard short!

    And everyone thought Holmgren was tracking Curtis Martin's and Alexander's yards to make sure Alexander won the rushing title? Obviously, quite the opposite.

    I know -- winning the playoff spot for the team overshadows the personal goal. But you still should be able to recognize when you're getting screwed.

    Too bad, Seattle. Good luck to you, anyway!

    David Ring

    Hawks would be fine without Alexander
    Shaun Alexander is the classic spoiled, pampered athlete who still believes it is all about him. He cried when he felt the fans were too hard on the team. Shaun has been laying the groundwork all year to make his exit.

    I, for one, will be glad to see him gone. As the Denver Broncos have proven, it is just as much the system as it is the running back. I can recall a couple of games this year when on third down he couldn't make a simple yard. How many times this year did he simply run out of bounds instead of turning up field? How many times did he lose focus and get the ball poked out from behind?

    Shaun, I won't miss you or your attitude.

    Tom Wood

    Holmgren's 'cute' calls ruin great day for Hawks
    Just another snub of the great running back! Holmgren and his cute offensive calls cost Shaun, his entire offensive line and fullback Mack Strong lifetime bragging rights of winning or helping win a rushing title.

    And Holmgren doesn't even have the guts to say he messed up? This is as bad as former Bears running back Walter Payton not scoring a touchdown in the Super Bowl years ago. At least coach Mike Ditka now says that was one of his biggest mistakes he ever made.

    Thanks for ruining a great day, Mr. Holmgren!

    Steve Blackman

    Alexander needs to be a team player
    Just tell Alexander, that crybaby whiner, that it seems to me I read an article that he was going to be a "team player" this year....
    -01-05-2005, 05:33 PM
  • RamWraith
    Alexander to play? Holmgren has to say so first
    by RamWraith
    By Len Pasquarelli

    Despite claims by tailback Shaun Alexander that the broken bone in his left foot has improved to the point where he might be able play this weekend, Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said Wednesday afternoon that he will not risk the long-term health of the NFL's reigning most valuable player.

    "If we still see the crack [on an MRI exam], and I'm pretty sure we will, then we're not going to take any chances," Holmgren said. "Even if he says he feels well, I can't run the risk [of doing further damage to the foot]."

    Citing the power of prayer as a key to the dramatic improvement in his foot, Alexander first suggested earlier Wednesday that he might be able to play in Sunday night's game against the Chicago Bears. The seventh-year veteran was bothered by a bruised foot in the season opener, then experienced further discomfort during Sunday's victory over the New York Giants, and a Monday examination revealed a small, non-displaced fracture.

    Holmgren announced at the time that Alexander would be sidelined for at least a couple of weeks, would not require surgery, and that Maurice Morris would replace him in the starting lineup. The team is also expected to expand its use of four-wide receiver formations during his absence.

    "I don't think [the rehabilitation] will be real lengthy, but it is what it is," Holmgren said on Monday in announcing the injury. "So now, he just has to stay off it and allow it to heal up ... When you lose the MVP for a while, it's a hit."

    Alexander, who walked into Seahawks headquarters Wednesday morning not wearing the plastic boot that was supposed to protect the break in his left foot, would need clearance from the team's medical staff to play Sunday. Even though the star tailback insisted his foot is much improved, Holmgren seemed more than a little dubious during his afternoon news conference. Alexander will undergo a follow-up round of tests, likely including another MRI, later on Wednesday.

    The Seahawks have officially listed Alexander as "doubtful" on the NFL injury report.

    Holmgren said Alexander reported for work on Wednesday "feeling really good" and "kind of frisky as a matter of fact." The coach stressed several times, however, that he does not want to exacerbate the situation by allowing Alexander to return too soon. And he strongly hinted he will rely more on the advice of the team's medical staff than on the desires of his most valuable player.

    If Alexander does sit out on Sunday, it will mark the first game he has missed in his NFL career, after a streak of 99 appearances. He has not missed a start since Sept. 21, 2003, when he arrived late to Qwest Field following the birth of his daughter.

    Alexander, 29, has rushed for over 1,000 yards in each...
    -09-27-2006, 02:30 PM