Mail Bag with Mike Kahn: 7/9/08

Mike answers questions concerning the upcoming training camp and season.

Believe it or not, training camp 2008 begins for the Seahawks in two weeks and the momentum is building with plenty of work still to be done.

Erik Kennedy's equipment staff has prepared the locker room in oversized fashion and all the equipment is in order for the throng of veterans and rookies that will fill the place. Sam Ramsden and his trainers have had the offseason to work with rehabbing players and now hope they are physically and mentally prepared for camp, while the field, maintenance and security crews have everything in order for the final training camp in Kirkland.

Chef Mac McNabb has finished ordering all the food and organized the meals for all the players, staff and media he will feed during the course of the virtual month before the team breaks camp during the third week of August.

And yes, plenty of players have maintained their work regimen during this break between minicamp and training camp, while Mike Holmgren and the coaching staff will have its entire schedule broken down over the next couple of weeks as well. Tim Ruskell and the personnel staff will all be on hand to grade out all the players they have helped accumulate for this camp, and before we know it, it will be business as usual.

It just doesn't seem like that long ago that the 2007 season ended, but by the time we blink again, it will be ancient history and the 2008 version of the Seahawks will dominate our thoughts. Here is just a smattering of the thoughts coming from fans over the past week.

From: Louis


Mike,

If Marcus Tubbs comes back and plays close to the level in which he played in '05, and Red Bryant plays up to his potential, not to mention Rocky Bernard and Brandon Mebane, it seems to me that the Hawks could have one of the top interior defensive lines in pro-football. Am I missing something, or could this be the final piece to the Seahawks' defense finally obtaining that "elite" status? If nobody is able to run against Seattle, it may give quarterback Matt Hasselbeck some extra time to break in those new receivers. The team could be ready to find their groove by mid-season. They found the zone earlier than mid-season in '05, but that sounds great in '08.

Louis,

You've broken it down very well, and explains why there is plenty of optimism regarding the interior line and the defense overall. The Tubbs situation is fluid, of course, with him continuing to make strides toward training camp - which is his target date from the ACL surgery shortly after the injury he suffered in the last preseason game in 2007. Bryant, too, has lots of people feeling good. But realistically, we won't know anything until the games begin and we see them both perform.

Consequently, you're looking at Bernard and Mebane, with underrated Craig Terrill determined to earn his reps again by simply outworking whoever is blocking him. By watching him late in minicamp, Bernard is over the foot problems that troubled him last season and Mebane continues to change his body through diet and workouts that will make him faster and stronger. Thanks for writing.

Yours in sport,

Mike

From: David


Mike,

I aspire to be a football coach one day, and I always wonder what it takes to be a great coach. What are some things that stand out to you about how Mike Holmgren runs this team so well? Hopefully you can give further insight as to what my priorities would be as a coach (such as it being conditioning, number of play reps plays, individual technique, etc).

David,

One of the things that stands out to me is how Holmgren often talks about how he wondered if he would ever win a game as a head coach, having gone through a winless season in high school. Nonetheless, he is headed to the Hall of Fame not only because he is exceptionally bright with a creative offensive mind, but his approach to the game.

More than anything else, it is consistency. Practices run with the same splits per drill and the same order. They bus together to a hotel for home games, have the team dinner, meetings and team snack every game. He sits in the same place on the bus. On the road, he sits in the same spot on the plane, he likes to choose the movies, and he reads. He likes to stroll back, check on players and joke with them. Most of all, he shows them that he really cares about them - while letting them have it when they deserve it. Other than a gifted football mind, in many ways the rest of his coaching techniques for motivation are very much like an exceptional parent. Thanks for writing.

Yours in sport,

Mike

From: Xavier


Mike,

What do you think about our kicking situation? I know that Olindo Mare is the veteran who will be taking the majority of the kicks. I've heard that Brandon Coutu has been really good. What is your take on this?

Xavier,

Frankly, it's just too early to tell. No doubt Mare is a veteran with a great track record over the years trying to prove the injuries that truncated his season a year ago were the exception rather than the rule. He looked very good in minicamp. On the other hand, so did Coutu, whom they drafted because of his strong leg, accuracy and believe he was the best kicker in college football a year ago.

In other words, this is going to be a dogfight come training camp, and minicamp was just a taste of what will unfold over the next six weeks. There is no way of knowing how it will pan out only to say it will be fun to watch. Thanks for writing.

Yours in sport,

Mike

From: Tom


Mike,

First and foremost ... Go Hawks!!!! there has been a lot of press as of late due to the Bills playing a few games in Toronto Canada, I was wondering if there was a chance the Seahawks would have the option of being able to play a few games in either Portland OR. or Vancouver, B.C. Although I would hate to lose the home field advantage, I would love to see the Seahawks increase their fan base. Is there any chance of this happening?

Tom,

This is a completely different situation than what is going on in Buffalo. It's a city that is shrinking corporately, and the Bills are in dire need of more revenue to perk up a fading city. Seattle is a thriving, growing marketplace and with the NBA Sonics having just moved to Oklahoma City, there will be even more corporate dollars to carve up. Toss in sellout crowds and a waiting list for season tickets in the neighborhood of 14,000, and the local fans have the priority.

They did play a preseason scrimmage in Portland in 2004, and do care about the fan base there. And there are plenty of fans from Vancouver that come down from B.C. as well. Both markets receive regional telecasts and receive attention with regard to community relations. But moving games is a major consideration that is rare from a successful franchise. Thanks for writing.

Yours in sport,

Mike

From: Steven


Mike,

As a Cougar alumnus I'm curious as to how Michael Bumpus is progressing so far? Also, what's the likelihood of Seneca Wallace playing receiver to fill in for Deion Branch until he gets healthy from knee surgery.

Steven,

The staff obviously liked Bumpus or they wouldn't have brought him in and he got some opportunity in minicamps with neither Branch nor Doug Baldwin participating. He also got some reps returning punts, something he did at a record-setting pace at Washington State. With so many young receivers to start the season with, there will be ample chances for him to make a case at training camp.

With regard to Wallace playing wide receiver, a lot of that will be contingent on how comfortable the staff is with Charlie Frye as the backup quarterback. And we won't know that until much deeper into training camp after seeing how Frye handles the team during a preseason game or two. Thanks for writing.

Yours in sport,

Mike

From: Mike


Mike,

For starters I'm a huge fan of our starting wide receivers but let's face it, we need one more major target. I was really hoping Seattle would have grabbed Limas Sweed. Do you think there is any chance we could trade for him? He is such a force on offense and I know he'll do amazing things in Seattle.

Mike,

Despite all the talk about the wide receivers going into the draft, none of them proved to be worthy of going in the first round. And when you consider that, along with the simple fact Ben Obomanu, Courtney Taylor, Logan Payne and Jordan Kent have all been in the system for a year and made great strides, there was no reason for them to draft a receiver that high. The staff is happy with those young players and there was far more logic in addressing other needs.

No doubt, Sweed and others were on their radar screen and are still in their personnel system so pro personnel director Will Lewis and his staff will keep any eye on them if they become available. So really, you never know when the future will become now. But the hope is they won't have to look for receivers any time soon provided the young guys develop behind the veterans. Thanks for writing.

Yours in sport,

Mike

From: Orv


Mike,

Like most Hawks fans, I look at the coming year's schedule and look at the games we should win, should lose, might win or lose, in an effort to establish a win-lose expectation. We have a tough schedule this year, playing six playoff teams, including the Pats and the Giants. I come up with only two should lose games - at the Giants and at the Cowboys (although I remember beating the Cowboys in Dallas on Thanksgiving not too long ago). I come up with four should win games: Buffalo, Miami, and the 49ers and Jets at home. The might win or lose games are the Pats, Packers and Tampa (all a little on the might lose side of the equation) and the other divisional games plus the Eagles (all a little on the might win side).

So this all results in my expectation of a best case scenario 14 - 2 record, or a worst case scenario (assuming we win the: should wins and split the might win or lose games down the middle) of 9 - 7. Being an optimist, I'm going to assume we win 5 of the 7 might win or lose games amongst the divisional opponents and Eagles, and expect the Hawks to go 11 - 5 this year, again winning their division. What do you think? And sorry, brevity is not my strong suit.

Orv,

I tend not to look at the schedule as much as the Seahawks themselves. By looking at last year's schedule, you would have thought the season would have hinged on games at Carolina and Atlanta, and they ended up being meaningless games. Sure, it is fun to figure it out, and see how close you come, but I don't get into that. Instead, I look at how the travel schedule is more balanced - unlike last season's finish of four of six on the road - St. Louis, Philadelphia, Carolina and Atlanta. That should help.

The key will be how the team functions on the road. Holmgren laid it out clearly how much work it will require to win their fifth consecutive NFC West title. They're trying to figure out why the defense performs at a top-five level at home, but not on the road. If that is solved, they're in great shape. I'll enter training camp believing this is a 10-6 team just as I have the past three seasons, and we'll have to see which way it goes from there once the season begins. Thanks for writing.

Yours in sport,

Mike

From: Brian


Mike,

I have a question about personnel management. Specifically players they should or shouldn't acquire. It seems to me that they should have all the people in personnel record which players in free agency or the draft that they feel will perform exceedingly well. Or conversely which players on the roster they feel are unlikely to match expectations. This way the team can track their employees' record over time. Do the Seahawks do this? It could be a great way to see who within the organization has the knack for identifying talent.

Brian,

No worries, they have a very intricate and balanced system that makes everybody accountable. It starts with scouting, continues through drafting and signing, and then once the team begins to practice, every member of the personnel department grades every player. This system implemented by president Tim Ruskell was how he learned personnel development under Jerry Angelo in Tampa, and it has translated well with the Seahawks.

They also share copious notes on scouting players on other teams throughout training camp and the regular season so they are ready to pounce on players if they are waived or become available through trade. Thanks for writing.

Yours in sport,

Mike

From: John


Mike,

I am a Seahawks fan who is English but lives in Dubai in the Middle East. I have seen the Seahawks four times in the last five years. My question is what happens if they can't agree on a contract with the draft choices and has this ever happened?

John,

If a player doesn't sign a contract, he goes back into the draft the next season. It doesn't happen often, but it does occur from time to time. Mostly it comes from unknown players. I just happened witness it here with the Seahawks when quarterback Kelly Stouffer, the sixth overall pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1987 out of Colorado State, refused to sign.

But he was traded by the Cardinals to the Seahawks before the 1988 draft; otherwise the Cardinals would have lost a first round draft pick with nothing in return. The Seahawks gave the Cardinals three future draft choices for Stouffer to show for entering their first season in Arizona. Thanks for writing.

Yours in sport,

Mike

From: Scott


Mike,

I have asked in the past but think I made my questions to lengthy and you did not respond, so I'll keep it short. I'm excited to see the Seahawks young tight ends grow into what we can hope is an above average group. Who does Seattle currently have in place to coach these guys? Also, do you know future head coach Jim Mora used his tight ends in Atlanta?

Scott,

Actually, the tight ends are at completely different points of their careers. There are two young ones - second round draft choice John Carlson is obviously a rookie and the youngest at 24, as is Joe Newton, who will turn 25 in October. Veteran Will Heller is just approaching his prime at 27, and free agent signing Jeb Putzier is 29.

Regarding the tight end numbers in Atlanta when Mora was coach, Alge Crumpler had the best numbers of his career - averaging better than 56 receptions, 810 yards and 6 touchdowns during those three seasons. Thanks for writing.

Yours in sport,

Mike

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