Super season in Seattle? (Part I)
Q: What are your impressions of the 49ers' defense? Holmgren: I see a lot of guys flying around. I was very impressed with how hard they are playing. They are doing a lot of things, a lot of blitzes and a lot of looks. They appear to have pretty good team speed on defense. Q: Is Julian Peterson one of the most disruptive individual forces in the game today? Holmgren: He's a great player. He really is a great player. He is a big, fast guy so he can do what they can ask him to do. He's a good pass rusher. He holds the point pretty good versus the run and he can cover guys. Obviously, he was their franchise player and it's justifiable. Q: What kind of differences do you see between the 49ers defense this year versus last year? Holmgren: I suppose the scheme. What is the same is how hard they play. I've always been impressed in the effort they put forth. That's how they play the game and they play the game correctly. They really go after it. Sometimes you get lucky and you get one but it's not because they don't hustle. Q: With games so close in the NFL these days, how do you teach a team to play well in the clutch? Holmgren: It amounts to two things: your preparation during the week, where you have covered those type of situation beforehand so they can carry that over into the game. And then, if you have been successful in winning a game or stopping a team when that happens. Every time that happens, then the next time, if you have the same players then it's a carry over there. I learned that a long time ago from Bill Walsh on the practice field. That way it's not so frantic out there. You are just kind of doing your job. Q: Have you seen that in your team? Holmgren: We are improving. We're getting better. It's a confidence thing. Last year we came back and won three games right at the end and if you do that enough, and you know you can, then the first step is believing. We know what plays we are going to run. We're well prepared and now we can do it. Q: Can that work in reverse as well? Holmgren: Yeah, it can. That's why you have coaches and that's why you have to coach them out of that. You are coaching their minds as well. Q: How good can this year's Seattle defense be? Holmgren: It's too early to tell. I've been very pleased with how we started the season. We haven't given up many points. That is the ultimate guide. It's way too early. We have a bunch of young guys playing defense. We have a young, young defensive team. They don't know what they don't know. We hammer on them, you know coach (Ray) Rhodes, and we hammer on them during the week because they are just starting to play defense and we have a long ways to go. Q: Is the Seahawks defense kind of dragging along the offense right now? Holmgren: Do you mean carrying the offense on their shoulders? They certainly did it against Tampa Bay. Yeah, they did. In any season, in all the years I've coached you are going to have a game somewhere down the road that is 40-35 and you are going to have a game that is 10-6. Now the key is that you win those games and that there is no finger-pointing. It just happens sometimes. Sunday, when we played Tampa, they had a great defense and we punched it around on offense. We weren't very good. I didn't like how we executed. But fortunately our defense stepped up and played a great game. That's what is so great about football: the team concept. Last Sunday our defense played well. There will be a time during the season when it will probably be the other way. Q: How is your starting quarterback, Matt Hasslebeck, playing? Holmgren: He's fine. He's proven he can handle any situation thrown his way. He had a wonderful season last year. He went to the Pro Bowl. The year prior to that he finished up the season over the last six games and really established himself. My feeling now is that Matt is in a position and you know, knock on wood he stays healthy which is a big deal in this league, he should have a fine career. He really should. He should be good for a long time. Q: He mentioned a part of you liked what he did in the playoff game against the Packers last year, declaring a victory after winning the coin toss for overtime. Did you like what he did? Holmgren: Well, if he chooses to think that, that is not exactly what I told him. I told him that I kind of understood why he did it but I told him not to do it anymore. I understood why he did it. He's an emotional guy and that's one of the reasons why he did it. But, we did that once and I'd rather he do that anymore. That was the extent of my conversation and he chose to interpret that. He tends to interpret a lot of things I say to him. TOMORROW: In Part II, Holmgren discusses the high expectations placed on the Seahawks this year, the ability to string together a long winning streak in today's NFL, and his impressions of quarterback Ken Dorsey, the 49ers' revamped offense, and if he still sees the West Coast offensive tendencies in that system, which he was a big part of during his days in San Francisco.
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