As if there hasn't been enough change in the NFC West, when the Seahawks travel to San Francisco this week they'll be facing a 49ers team with a new head coach with a familiar face – former All-Pro linebacker Mike Singletary.
The 49ers fired coach Mike Nolan this week and replaced them with Singletary, who was the assistant head coach/defense to Nolan. The former Chicago Bears star, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998, is in his fourth season with the Niners. It should not change, the offense much, however, with Mike Martz still the offensive coordinator and J.T. O'Sullivan the quarterback.
Nolan is the second coach in the division to be fired this month, with Scott Linehan being removed by the St. Louis Rams in favor of Jim Haslett.
The big question going into this week's game for the Seahawks will be at quarterback, with Matt Hasselbeck, Charlie Frye and Seneca Wallace having started each of the past three games respectively, with injuries the determining factor. Hasselbeck's disk injury that has affected his leg is the key circumstance, although Wallace has been hobbling through a calf injury of his own.
Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren is hopeful but uncertain of Hasselbeck's status entering Wednesday's practice. If he can't go, it will come down to a decision between Wallace and Frye. Hasselbeck is undergoing treatment and taking strength tests daily to determine whether he is capable of practicing, let alone playing in the game, but Holmgren remains hopeful even though the dynamics of the team with three quarterbacks and nine wide receivers going through the middle since training came began the last week of July.
"He is feeling better each day," Holmgren said. "Until he reaches that (point of strength), then he probably won't play. We said last week there's a possibility he'd play against San Francisco, and will say that. There's a possibility he'll play this week.
"We're not quite the same team that lined up in training camp. That's for sure. So, I don't think he should carry the entire load. But, it will help matters a lot. I mean, that changes the program considerably if he comes back. That's not the only guy we miss, but we need him back."
On to the e-mail of the week:
With the lack of pass rush do you think the Hawks would ever look into Simeon Rice. I know he had off the field issues but he wants to prove himself. Why not give him the rest of the year to make his case for the league. Thanks for all you insight of the Hawks.
There are a lot of players the Seahawks could take a look at, and probably are looking at this very moment. President Tim Ruskell, vice president of player personnel Ruston Webster and pro personnel director Will Lewis and their staff, spend their days gleaning film, talking on the phone, getting tips on who may be waived, who has lost a step or who still has one.
Rice suffered the dreaded "Lisfranc fracture" of his foot in the middle of last season and he is approaching his 35th birthday in February. Once all of the pros and cons of the player as an entity are added up, there is the consideration of what value there is to the chemistry. He was a great player, but the question is what he would bring to the table today. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,
I'm a huge Seahawk fan from Los Angeles. I understand the injuries, every team goes through them. No team in the NFL is going to feel sorry for us. But the injuries have not been the deciding factor on the defensive side of the ball. The players are virtually the same but the scheme or approach seems way off. The way we are getting beat, players are not making plays but worse, they aren't in position to make these plays. I can't believe it's that many blown assignments. If so we have deeper issues. So what's going on with the defensive play calling? You thoughts please.
More than anything else in professional sports and high level teams, it comes down to confidence and consistency. And the momentum goes in both directions, although positive momentum ceases much more quickly than negative momentum because once things go badly, it's more difficult to reverse.
There has been a cumulative effect on the defense so far, with the offense unable to sustain drives, and then the individuals on defense try to hard to make big plays instead of having confidence in each other and the scheme. The players talk about it themselves, but once the action is live, they just react. They played real well in the second half against Tampa on Sunday and hopefully that will carry over this week in San Francisco. Once the confidence is rekindled and momentum starts rolling, things can change. Hopefully, this is it. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,
Until we get bigger linemen, and faster safeties, we can not compete with the elite, and I certainly hope we get a good quarterback to take over for Matt Hasselbeck. He is getting old and injury prone. With good drafts and a few great moves, we should do well next year! But face it, this year, with our slow safeties and our line getting manhandled and injuries it would take a miracle to get into the playoffs.
It isn't that simple, and since you're so certain of that … why didn't anybody say a word about bigger linemen or faster safeties last season? As a matter of fact, there were plenty of complaints that Deon Grant didn't make the Pro Bowl last year, while both he and Brian Russell were praised for solidifying the defense as a whole and the secondary in particular. There's no denying the rocky start in the secondary, but there are 10 games to go and time to re-establish themselves back there.
As for the defensive line, Brandon Mebane continues to distinguish himself as a run-stuffer and is improving all the time as a pass-rusher. And just last week, rookie Red Bryant began picking up more snaps at defensive tackle opposite Mebane as well. Bryant is huge, and talented. He's just young. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,
After seeing the roster changes made this week with Justin Forsett coming back into the 53-man roster and Michael Bumpus going back to the practice squad), among the other tenacious injuries and circumstances surrounding this season, I have to say... THANK GOD I'M NOT A COACH! I can not imagine what this staff has to go through to make the right adjustments this season, considering what has happened so far. We have an awesome receiving core, but the injuries have had an impact on the team as a whole. I mean, honestly... the defense has had to play A LOT because of the third down conversion situations.
I am not taking away from the offense in ANY means. The offense as a whole is very talented and obviously very hard working and dedicated to winning. I am from Princeton W.VA. (What's up Owen?) and am living in Oak Harbor WA., and became a fan almost right away because of the class and character of this organization. This team is bound for greatness... without a doubt. like coach, and so many others said, when you lose SIX receivers its hard to compensate in any other aspect of your TEAM. That's why it's called a TEAM. You need everyone to lean on each other, and make this work. I believe in the Hawks, and i believe in their focus, and they will come out just fine this year and years to come.
You can ask a coach in any professional sport and the toughest part is releasing a player who has literally given everything he has and still isn't good enough to stick around. Coaches must quash dreams all the time and it is not a pretty thing – perhaps the most underrated negative to the job. And then there are the injuries.
It's hard to fathom that the Seahawks have gone through nine wide receivers and three quarterbacks in six games. Retaining patience is an understatement. To just blithely say injuries are part of the game doesn't do what they've gone through justice. Respecting the situation any less than that is, well, *offensive, *so to speak. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,
It is obvious that the Hawks are struggling to put complete drives together. I think we are too predictable. It seems that we aren't using our running backs in the passing game enough. With Maurice Morris' ability to make defenders miss, why aren't we utilizing him with screen plays to get him in open space? If he breaks one or two for some good positive yardage it would surely force the opposing defense to stay honest, and possibly open up some receivers downfield for some big plays.
Mike Holmgren said this week is all about trying to figure out the right fit of an offensive scheme so that the transition of quarterbacks and wide receivers are comfortable enough with the game-plan that he doesn't have to narrow the playbook. But it's a tough call when guys "zig when they should zag" as he explains it.
As for Morris, he just now is getting back to 100 percent from his knee injury, and I'm sure the ball will be in his hands a lot more in open spaces as the season progresses. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,
I know the Seahawks have been hit with a lot of injuries since the beginning of the season, but I truly think if the team stays together they can still win ball games. I hope the team doesn't get down on themselves and players start trying to win ball games on their own. Even though they are 1-5, I believe they are still in the playoff race.
Arizona is only three games ahead of us and I think if we win this week, plus win 7-8 other games (which would need to include the games against Arizona on Nov. 16 and Dec. 28), the Seahawks could have a shot at a fifth NFC West title. Do you think the Seahawks can turn their current 1-4 record into a 9-7 or 10-6 record? GO HAWKS!!!
That's the optimistic spirit. You nailed it with players trying to win games on their own, and that does cause a negative domino effect, particularly on defense. The coaches know it, the players know and the educated fans know it when players start gambling unnecessarily during the games. It kills chemistry.
That's why this week's game in San Francisco is so important. A road game against a divisional opponent can change momentum in a hurry. It just has to start with one win and there are no other games to consider beyond this one. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,
I was just curious, with all of the problems we're having at our secondary, are we going to try out Kevin Hobbs at cornerback? I know preseason success doesn't turn into regular season success, but Josh Wilson and Kelly Jennings have been struggling recently, why not give him at least a try. More good can be done than harm in trying. And I'm also curious about the situation with Ray Willis and Sean Locklear, has the right tackle position just turned into an open competition?
Hobbs has played in games this season in different situations and the coaching staff has the opportunity to watch him every day in practice. If they didn't like him, he wouldn't still be on the roster. By the same token, all three are about the same age, and the team has invested a lot more into Wilson and Jennings so they will give them time to develop.
As for the right tackle situation, Willis continued to impress with Locklear out and his nastiness in the run game is something the coaching staff loves. He figures to get continual looks throughout games to battle Locklear for playing time. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,
I feel the main thing that plagues our offense is that we don't threaten the whole field. I know we have had a lot of injuries but we are not making the best of what we have. We need to start using Jordan Kent immediately. I hear about the route running and assignment problems Kent had but he has too much speed and size to not be used. He could be put in to run flies and comebacks. I believe we need some big play attempts early in the game as soon as we reach midfield. No team is going to let someone run over them without a passing threat. Bombing it out will help our short passing game and our running game out enough to get some consistency in all phases off the game and that includes the defense.
If our intention is to run the ball then we should definitely make it a point to throw deep as soon as we can get Kent on a mismatch deep. The defense just needs go back to a bend but not break defense. Not making mistakes like bump and run coverage on the fastest person on the field without safety help. We end bad moves like that and we will be fine. The whole season depends on our passing game and we need to get it going.
If it were that simple, Kent would have been starting and been the primary target long ago. He showed a lot of improvement in training camp this season and made plays during the preseason games that opened a lot of eyes. But he is still raw when it comes to coming out of breaks in pass routes and reading the secondary when he makes his cuts. All of that comes with experience and if the easy communication isn't there, then that's when turnovers happen.
Now that he's back on the 53-man roster, they'll no doubt take a look at him with different groupings, and he'll get an opportunity to make an impact. He's a great athlete, blessed with size and speed … time will tell how quickly he'll develop as a receiver. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,
I know our defense has been a problem, And the rest of the Seahawks fans see this. But nobody has said that part of the problem for our defense is three of them have casts. Three Pro Bowlers – sackmaster Patrick Kerney, middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu and our great cover guy Marcus Trufant. It's very hard to tackle with one hand. As for our receiving corps, Bobby Engram, Deion Branch, Koren Robinson and John Carlson are a great group. I'm sure when Matt Hasselbeck gets back, things will turn around. .We need to win this weekend if we have any chance to stay with Arizona.
So much of what is going on with the team right now is contingent on health and confidence that it is difficult to separate the two with this team right now. The talent is obvious and the need for them to be healthy and playing together for an extended period of time is even more palpable. But it's just a matter of coping with the situation and trying to work through it.
That's why we all keep saying the same thing: one big win – particularly on the road – can change everything. San Francisco is next on the agenda. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,
I have been a Seahawks fan since Steve Largent played and I have seen the good, bad, and the ugly of the Hawks. Do you think or believe that 'too much' football is the cause of the huge amount of injuries to the 'Hawks and league-wide.
There is a lot to be said for that these days. With the off-season workout programs and the competition to stay in shape even when these programs are not in effect really push bodies to the limit more than they used to. When I began covering the NFL in the early 1980's, most players worked their way into shape during training camp and were in top condition by the time the season began.
Now they come in at a very high conditioning level and that can lead to pulls and tears with the onset of heavy contact in early camp. And perhaps more than anything else, players are bigger, stronger and faster than ever before with the field still the same size.
It is a violent competitive game and there is no easy answer. It's why there is no rush to judgment over the movement to eliminate two preseason games and make the regular season 18 games. It would require expanded rosters, and undoubtedly increase the number of injuries that have already gone off the charts. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,
How does Jim Mora feel about this team and what he is going to inherit next year? It was nice to see Shaun Alexander and Ryan Plackemeier get picked up by the Washington Redskins. I think the tight end position could be used more until the other receivers return … do you agree?
At the moment, Mora is focused on his job as defensive backfield coach and assistant head coach. His job is to help make the defense as effective as possible, and not spend any time interceding on Mike Holmgren's job as head coach. His four-year contract as head coach begins next season. Obviously, former Seahawks assistants and present Redskins coaches Jim Zorn and Stump Mitchell had a lot to do with Alexander and Plackemeier going to Washington. That happens all the time in this league based on familiarity.
Regarding the tight end position, rookie John Carlson is already leading the team in receptions and is on pace to break all Seahawks tight end receiving records. What the offense really wants to do is establish a tempo and include everybody in the receiving corps. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,