The Seahawks won a rainy game in Philadelphia last season
As players, coaches and fans get caught up in the games, the relationships are too often what get lost in the shuffle.
Evidently that's not going to happen between Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren and Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid, even when they square off Sunday afternoon at Qwest Field.
Reid spoke with the Seattle media early Wednesday before Holmgren had his weekly confab, and the two of them spoke glowingly of their relationship that first began when Reid was a grad assistant at Brigham Young some 26 years ago when Holmgren was the offensive coordinator.
"I was in charge of the (grad assistants) at BYU, and he was getting his degree," Holmgren said. "Early on, we developed a friendship. He's a very bright guy. He was a journalism major in college, and I will still say he's a bright guy. But he had a lot of interests. I really liked how he approached things, and he loved football, and his work ethic was super. So, it was not difficult to recognize ability there, and talent. He was a lineman himself, so he became a line coach, and a very good one."
Reid coached 10 years in college football while Holmgren was getting his feet on the ground in the NFL under the tutelage of Bill Walsh as first the quarterbacks coach and then the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. And when Holmgren got his first head coaching opportunity in Green Bay in 1992, he didn't hesitate to add Reid to his staff.
"I had known him a long time, so I knew how he was," said Reid, who was hired to be head coach of the Eagles in 1999, the same year Holmgren left the Packers to coach the Seahawks.
"Even back then he was competitive and demanding, but also very fair. I said this when I worked for him in Green Bay: I have a hard time believing anybody did it better than him, and I still feel that way, even now I'm a head coach. He just had a great way about him; he knew when to pat you on the back and when to kick you in the butt. That is why he's been one of the most successful coaches ever."
The plaudits come easily to and from both, and the success both have had speaks volumes. Reid coached the Eagles to the NFC championship game four times, while Holmgren has been to the Super Bowl three times, once with the Seahawks and twice with the Packers – winning Super Bowl XXXI - with Reid has his quarterbacks coach. With their mustaches and body structure, they could pass for brothers, Holmgren 10 years older than the 50-year-old Reid.
Reid's job initially for Holmgren was as tight ends and offensive line coach because he played offensive line at BYU. Ultimately, he became the quarterbacks coach and was the guy who talked Holmgren into drafting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in the sixth round at Green Bay. Not surprisingly, Reid's offense even today is a mirror image of the Holmgren's version of the West Coast offense, and he'll never underestimate the impact Holmgren had in broadening his knowledge of offensive football.
"It wasn't an overnight deal," Reid said "I was just an offensive line coach/tight ends coach and he knew I always wanted to be a line coach in the NFL. He told me one day, "Listen, you need to broaden your perspective on some things. You know you can coach the offensive line. Learn the whole thing.'"
The affection they hold for each other is obvious, and even though they'll try to out-coach each other's brains out on Sunday, it won't dim the opportunity they'll have to spend some time together at some point over the weekend.
"You guys have seen line coaches … you've talked to line coaches," Holmgren said, tongue-in-cheek. "They're very… well, they get their lineman, and there's nothing else in the world other than this little group of people and their sled, you know? They very much live their life in a phone booth. So I said, 'Andy, I'd like you to coach the tight ends.' He goes, 'You go from coaching ten guys to coaching two. And you're over there doing your little things.' I said, 'Yeah, but you're going to learn the passing game. You're involved in both the run and the pass,' and that's what he meant by 'expanding his horizons.' And then I later named him the quarterback coach. Good coaches are good coaches.
"I would say in a non-football (sense), I like to see Andy. I like to see him, talk to him. He's one of the good guys I've ever met. As far as the game itself, I don't think it makes a difference (in our relationship)."
Seneca makes his third straight start
With starter Matt Hasselbeck still getting treatment for the bulging disk in his back, Seneca Wallace will be making his third consecutive start and Holmgren's perspective is that it should just keep getting better as times goes on.
He hadn't played much at all for two years, and was dealing with a strained calf muscle in his first start at Tampa. Add in their aggressive and talented defense, and it wasn't exactly an easy start. But last week at San Francisco, Wallace moved better and responded with 15-of-25 passing for 222 yards and a pair of touchdown passes.
Presumably he'll continue his progression physically and mentally.
"I thought his decision-making, I could almost see it getting better, and I was encouraged by that," Holmgren said. "And he, clearly, when I talked to him on the sidelines near the end of the football game, he himself felt better about that."
It will also help timing with his receivers, Bobby Engram and Koren Robinson. The more they play together, the better they'll get. And hopefully, the extremely athletic Wallace will have a little more explosiveness back in his calf as it strengthens through treatment during the course of the week.
"Just the confidence level, as far as maybe my leg goes, things like that (make a difference)," Wallace said. "You get another week under your belt of practicing and timing with the receivers and knowing what Mike is looking for on certain things."
"It's a rhythm game, and you've got to get a completion and get some good things going. It's tough to try to bail out, but like I said, I just said we're going to keep pushing, and some good things are going to come out of this."
Holmgren in response to the way 49ers coach Mike Singletary was compelled to apologize after they lost to the Seahawks in his first game as coach:
"To me, it's like most things, and that's why they give us ten minutes or five minutes after the game: it's pretty emotional. What, in fact, are you saying about your team, and the guys that just finished playing their hearts out on the field? Did mistakes happen? Sure. Were guys trying? Probably trying hard, it just didn't work. I would make sure that I would think about it, settle down, watch the film, and maybe talk to my team about it."
This and that
Both Josh Wilson and Leonard Weaver were nominated for NFC Player of the Week honors. Wilson, for his 75-yard interception return for a touchdown in the final minute of the first half that turned Sunday's game into a route. And Weaver became the first fullback (and only fifth back overall) since 1970 to have touchdown receptions (43 and 62) of 43 yards or more in the same game. Saints quarterback Drew Brees got the offensive award and Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka was tabbed on the defensive side. … As expected, Matt Hasselbeck (back, leg), Deion Branch (heel) and Will Heller (knee) didn't practice Wednesday and won't play in the game on Sunday. Patrick Kerney (shoulder) won't practice this week and Holmgren said his status is uncertain for the game. Lofa Tatupu (groin strain) isn't expected to practice this week, but hopes to play in the game, and the same can be said for Leonard Weaver (foot). Typically Koren Robinson (knee) was held out to rest his knee and will play and Walter Jones was limited just to alleviate wear and tear. Darryl Tapp practiced at Kerney's defensive left end spot and will start there if Kerney can't play, with Lawrence Jackson on the right side and Baraka Atkins rotating in. D.D. Lewis, who has played so exceptionally the past two games with Tatupu injured, continued at middle linebacker in practice. … The Seahawks travel to Miami next week before returning home the following two weeks with the Arizona Cardinals and Washington Redskins, respectively.