Super season in Seattle? (Part II)
Q: What are your feelings about the high expectations being heaped upon your team this year, with some prognosticators picking you to reach the Super Bowl? Holmgren: I thought it was a little premature. I think we're getting better. It's coming, but we haven't really done enough to be chosen to do that. Having said that, the high expectation level and filling the stadium is a positive. There is a good feeling up here right now and we've got to continue to play well to maintain that feeling. But, we're pretty young still and we haven't really taken the next step. We got to win a playoff game. We have to get into the playoffs. We have to continue to do that consistently, but it's better that they are picking us to be OK than the other way around. Q: How much is it to ask rookie receivers to make an impact right away? Holmgren: I think it is a difficult thing. I think rookies have come into the league at wide receiver and have done well. Now, to be an impact player for you, I think history will tell us that is kind of a hard go. Koren (Robinson) and I will use Darrell Jackson and the young receivers we've had that has started as rookies, they wind up catching 50 balls and contributing certainly to what you do, but it is asking a lot to be the man as a rookie. I think there is a lot to learn, particularly if you run this particular system at that position. The other thing is that they are going against guys that they may have never played against in college. You know, guys that are as good as the guys they are going against everyday. The third part of that is it is a much more physical game here than in college. They are going against corners in bump-and-run that will knock them around a little bit. So, there is a learning curve in getting used to our game. Sometimes, when you have a tremendously talented young guy you draft, he is going to be really good, but that first year he might just be good. He might not be the impact guy that he will be maybe in year two, year three, year four. That is how it has been with our guys. Q: How difficult is it to put a long winning streak together in the league today, like the Patriots have done by winning 17 in a row? Holmgren: Yeah, they are on quite a run. I think one, they obviously have an outstanding coaching staff that gets them ready to play. Then Tom Brady and their offense have been very productive. They believe in themselves. I think one of the great things about that team from an outsider looking in is that they seem to be pretty unselfish. If you can get a team thinking that way, like ‘we don't really care who gets the credit just as long as we win,' you really have, given the parity in the league, you really have something good going. They win close games. They do the right thing when they have to. They make plays when they have to. Then, I think Bill on defense, he's about the best and he creates real problems for you defensively. Q: Do you think the era of long winning streaks is over because of the way the league is now? Holmgren: Yeah, what they've done is nothing short of remarkable. Now, in that streak there have been four or five games where they had them dead in the water and somehow they pulled something out. But, shoot, it is what it is. I mean, it's tough to win that many games in a row. Q: How challenging is it for a coach to replace eight starters on one side of the ball like Dennis Erickson has done on offense with the 49ers? Holmgren: It's a huge challenge, particularly when one of the starters is your quarterback. It kind of starts there. On offense, to me, they're playing hard. They look pretty good to me. Guys are making plays. They're running hard. Obviously, they have bought into the system there. They got a bunch of young guys. It's kind of like our defense. We got all these young guys and they don't know what they don't know, so they are just playing and they are playing hard. Q: How impressed were you by Ken Dorsey in his first NFL start last week? Holmgren: I thought it was very impressive for his first start. I really did. That is not an easy thing to do. Regardless of how successful you were in college, it is not an easy thing to do. He came in and stepped right in. I think he is a very poised guy. He's a winner. He's smart. We can't allow him to get into a real good comfort thing and saying that this isn't that hard when we play him. Q: After seeing Dorsey work out at the NFL combine last year, are you surprised he's getting a chance to start so early in his career? Holmgren: No. Part of this is because Tim Rattay I think is injured and Ken had to come in and play. When those things happen, when you have injuries, sometimes guys go in and play and off they go. It happened to me in Green Bay with Brett Favre. You know, Don Majkowski got hurt, Brett went in and boom, now he's played in 800 straight games or whatever it is. So, nothing really surprises me. They obviously believe in him. Obviously, he is a good leader and his teammates believe in him and it shows on the field. Q: Looking at the 49ers offense today, do you still see the West Coast Offense? Holmgren: Well, we've only seen them in a couple of games and then some preseason games. It appears as if they are doing some of the things they did last year. I know they have a new coordinator and a new system, and I'm sure there are other wrinkles little by little. Just to overhaul the whole thing right away, I think probably that is a pretty hard thing to do. You see some of the things they did last year and you see some new things. Then eventually, it will be just what Dennis wants it to be. Maybe they are there now already. When he took the job, the coordinator was there and I've heard him quoted as keeping the offense the way it was. Now, he definitely wants to put his stamp on it. All of the teams he has ever coached have had outstanding offenses. But, a lot of the stuff looks as if they haven't changed too much early on here.
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