As difficult as this season has been with the plethora of injuries, coach Mike Holmgren has been able to maintain perspective.
He's frustrated by the Seahawks 2-6 record in his last season and the inability of his specialty – offensive football – to overcome the lost players. But he also understands what he gets to do for a living is what most people dream about.
Besides, when he was 15 years old, he got a construction job that nearly broke him.
"I'll tell you, it was just awful," Holmgren recalled. "I mean, the hardest thing I've ever done, and I probably wanted to quit about 25 times. But I didn't. I was 15 years old and my hands were bleeding and no one cared. And I wasn't going to let my dad down, so I didn't quit.
"Everybody in the room has to make choices when it gets hard. You have to make decisions. What decision you make says a lot about you and really says a lot about your future. We have a good group of guys in there. They're professional and they'll work. They played hard yesterday. They played hard yesterday, and we were over-matched just a little bit, I thought. So I just want to keep them going. We got half the season left to play and it's my job to keep them going."
And that's the message of the week to his team as they prepare for the trip to Miami and a date with the Dolphins on Sunday. It isn't about excuses. It isn't about pep talks. He's leaving it up to the players to show what they're about inside. They're all getting evaluated, and these are opportunities to play in the NFL.
Holmgren said quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is making progress, and could very well be on track to practice some this week and perhaps play next week when the Arizona Cardinals come to Qwest Field. Defensive end Patrick Kerney will have shoulder surgery, and it could keep him out a couple of weeks, or if he re-tore his surgically repaired labrum, he'll be finished for the year. Wide receiver Deion Branch will not be ready this week, while middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu and fullback Leonard Weaver are both expected to play.
That means Seneca Wallace will start at quarterback again, Lawrence Jackson and Darryl Tapp will start at defensive end, and Bobby Engram and Koren Robinson at wide receiver.
"When I'm talking to the team," Holmgren said, "all I'm saying is, 'Look, it's hard. You're working hard and you're not getting any reward for it. That doesn't mean you stop working. That means you're playing football and you do the things you do because that's who you are and you decided this is how I'm going to work. This is how I'm going to go about my job every day.
"And it's nice to get the paycheck at the end of the day, but what I'm emphasizing is, 'Continue doing the things that allowed you to be in the room in the first place. You didn't get here by accident. You got here because you worked hard and all those things. Don't forget that.' We're having a tough year. The city's having a tough year sports-wise. But it wouldn't be the first time this has happened in a place or a team, and I guarantee you, this'll flip when you have all your guys. I guarantee you. It's just where we are right now."
On to e-mail of the week:
Even though we lost to the eagles this past Sunday I saw one thing that I thought had been missing all year and that is Mike Holmgren being Mike Holmgren. I figure if the coach is fired up maybe then the players will get fired up. I can almost guarantee we will look better against Miami. What are your thoughts on the subject?
Let's be honest here. Holmgren has been blind-sided by all of the injuries and he admittedly tried to finesse his way through games initially. It didn't help anybody get healthy, so he's just ready to tough it out like anybody else would now. He's all about winning, and the frustration of losing so many players at the skill positions on offense – then losing his two All-Pros on defense (Lofa Tatupu and Patrick Kerney), that was enough for him to let it all hang out on Sunday.
Nobody anticipated the kind of injuries this team has suffered, and it's been reflected by the record. But as competitors, all they can do is hope to regain some semblance of momentum and start adding up wins as the injured players get healthy. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,
I was just wondering about the running game, I know it's not about stats but I think that they should stick with one running back. One reason is if it's one running back then he can get a better read on the defense and adjust. Two, I think that the running back has time to warm up instead of getting it going then having to sit out a series or two depending on if its a three-and-out. But you know I'm not a coach just a fan wondering, I'll just have to sit back and see what coach has up his sleeve.
The running game was working just fine for a while, but in the last few weeks it has shut down. Some of it has come as a result of defenses stacking the line of scrimmage because the passing game has been so ineffective. Holmgren has said execution has been a problem to a certain extent on the offensive line. Whatever the reason, there have only been spot runs that have worked, and like everything else, it's tough to put a finger on why.
It's such a different approach than Holmgren normally takes – generally an amazingly tight split of pass and run (except for last year when they essentially eschewed the run) – it's unnatural to generate the offense by the run first. It will be interesting to see what kind of approach they take this week at Miami. It could be more along those lines. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,
When will Matt Hasselbeck play again?
It's hard to say. Holmgren said he wants to get him onto the practice field at least a little bit this week, and there is hope that he may be ready to play Nov. 16 when the Arizona Cardinals come to town. That has been sort of the target game anyway, and he seems to have made a lot of improvement over the past couple of weeks – particularly strengthening his core, which is enhancing his arm strength as well.
But until he gets the OK from his doctor in Los Angeles, he won't get back on the field. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,
I think Justin Forsett should be running the ball a little more. They should give this guy a chance. I saw all the preseason games and he looked good running the ball.
Gaining a lot of yards during the second half of a preseason game is a lot different than carry the ball at any time during a regular season game. He's a tough little back, and showed enough ability that they wanted to keep him around, but not at the expense of Julius Jones and/or Maurice Morris carrying the football. As is generally the case with rookies, Forsett is earning his stripes on special teams his first season. The more he accomplishes on special teams, the stronger his spot on the team.
Once he gets to that point, then we'll see if he can earn some reps in the backfield down the road. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,
At 2-6 obviously we are not where we were expecting to be. Injuries have played a big role, but a high quality team should rise above these issues; such as the Giants. The talent is there. The coaching staff is there. The moxie is not. Would you agree, or think otherwise?
The Giants knew that Michael Strahan was retiring and they had two defensive ends to replace him and Osi Umenyiora, who suffered a season-ending injury. Not to say it isn't impressive, but the injuries played into the strength of their depth. What would have happened if they lost Eli Manning and six wide receivers?
There is no way to gauge the impact on a team when it loses such key players at the skill positions. Add to that losing two guards, the starting right tackle for three games, and the starting center missing virtually all of training camp with a new offensive line coach … and there shouldn't be much question about the impact on the offense. The defense has been a different story, and moxie may come into play there. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,
With how complex this season has been so far, I'll ask a simple question. Why did Julian Peterson change his number to 98 (typically a lineman's number) and a lineman took number 59?
He wanted No. 98 his first year with the Seahawks, but Grant Wistrom already had that number. And the league had printed so many No. 59's, he had to wait two years to change it. Evidently, it is a league rule that a player must wait two years to change his number if he's on the same team.
Once the season started, Atkins went to No. 91. All that is a much better reason than what I thought it was – players just getting bored with their numbers. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,
I'm no relation to Will, by the way. I was wondering with the success last week with Leonard Weaver out of the backfield, is there a plan to use him more? Why isn't Julius Jones worked hard by carrying the ball more. There are so many running backs, why not punish other defenses with smash mouth football?
Once Weav's injured foot heals, I'm sure he'll be an integral part of the offense, and we very well could see both Jones and Maurice Morris carry the ball more this week at Miami against the Dolphins. Holmgren likes to have a fairly even number of runs vs. passes, so we'll have to wait and see.
As the season progresses, a lot of what they do with the offense will be contingent on if and when Hasselbeck returns as quarterback. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,