|Seahawks' Holmgren has no plans to go out softly|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 21 August 2008 13:28|
Profanity pinged off the steel beams of the Seahawks' new, opulent indoor facility like it was a gritty bar full of drunken sailors. The coach berated his receivers to use their hands better to catch passes. He yelled at his quarterbacks to make better throws.
Turn off the inspirational background music. No swan songs here. The dominant personality nicknamed ``The Big Show'' won't stand for a tear-jerking, nostalgia ride through this 10th and final season as Seattle's coach.
``Did you see him today?'' asked Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, scoffing at the notion of a softer, sentimental Holmgren about an hour after the latest outburst from the NFL's winningest active coach. ``I don't think he changes at all. If anything, the standard (is) maybe higher (for this season).''
When will it hit Holmgren? Will it soften him to realize he's entering the 17th and final year of an NFL coaching career that saw him lead the Green Bay Packers to two Super Bowls and the Seahawks to a third, so far winning one ring and 170 games, one victory from tying Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs for 10th on the career list?
When will it truly affect this former backup quarterback at Southern California and high school history teacher that he agreed in January to honor only the final year of his contract and then leave the profession he's worked in since 1971, when he coached freshmen at San Francisco's Lincoln High School?
``Not yet,'' Holmgren said quickly, trying to brush away even a speck of that cloud potentially forming over this loaded Seahawks season.
``When that'll hit me a little bit will be at the end, I think. I will admit to the fact that I've had a little talk with myself about that. And that doesn't help anybody if I'm thinking (that).
``So, no. At the end, there'll be some time I'm sure that I'll think about that. But now, this is a new year. I'm the same person. My staff clearly understands that. The players understand it. Business as usual.''
He and Kathy, his wife of 37 years, made the mutual choice to return for one more run at the Super Bowl. One more run with a team that has won four consecutive NFC West titles, has been to the playoffs five straight years, went to the 2006 Super Bowl and has an elite quarterback plus all 11 starters returning on a swarming, sometimes dominant defense - including Pro Bowlers Patrick Kerney, Lofa Tatupu, Julian Peterson and Marcus Trufant.
Defensive backs coach Jim Mora, the former Atlanta Falcons head coach, is signed to take over for Holmgren in 2009.
The intense Holmgren turned noticeably gentler and more sentimental last season, as if he was preparing himself to step away - which he nearly did in January.
But this is no longer January.
Just ask Hasselbeck. He spends more time than any Seahawk absorbing Holmgren's teaching and testing of the West Coast offense. It's a system Seattle's coach has been meticulously preserving and refining since he first began learning it from Hall of Famer Bill Walsh in 1986, when Holmgren got his first NFL job coaching quarterbacks for the San Francisco 49ers.
``He is very demanding and sets the bar high. If you reach his standards then you are great. Then he is happy and in a good mood,'' Hasselbeck said. ``If you don't reach his standard, then he is cranky and not happy. And he will let you know.''
And not just his players. One recent practice was plagued by sloppiness and fundamental breakdowns, such as bad snaps - things that are often part of training camp, but not part of Holmgren's plan. After yelling at his players on the field in a post-practice team huddle, Holmgren convened a second huddle with his assistant coaches. That contained a few more demands.
Defensive coordinator John Marshall was one of the staffers who trudged off the field with his head down, making a beeline for the meeting room.
``In some ways, he's gotten harder,'' said Marshall, who's in his sixth season with Holmgren and has been an NFL assistant for 29 years. ``He knows the team we have and what we can do. He's always been specific - he's even more so now.
``He's trying to make this his best year of coaching. I really believe that. And he's indicated that to us.''
Holmgren hints that is so.
``We've been close the last couple years and haven't been able to finish the deal,'' he said.
The last three seasons have ended with a mistake-filled loss to Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl, an overtime loss at eventual NFC champion Chicago and a lopsided defeat in a blizzard at Green Bay - the latter two in the divisional round of the playoffs.
``So I believe we have a good football team,'' he said. ``And now, it's up to all of us to really work very, very hard and do the best job we can do as coaches and players.''