Holmgren liking look of home-field for 'Hawks

"We've accomplished our first goal by winning the division. I can't remember a time that we've clinched the division as early as we have this time. It's new ground, but it's just the first step. Everybody knows that getting home-field advantage through the playoffs and perhaps the first-round bye really helps the team. Now we're shooting for our next goal which is home-field advantage. Home-field advantage is why you play in the regular season." -- Seattle coach Mike Holmgren

Q: How much can your wins this season be attributed to the team's maturity level?

Holmgren:
I think winning is contagious. I think our defense, which has had so many new players, has just grown up together. We have nine starters that weren't even here last year. They've just grown up together. They come together to where they feel pretty good about themselves. They had a real fine Monday night, but we have played young at times. We've made mistakes and that's understandable. I like how they've stuck together and battle to the very last play. We won a couple of games right at the end. There's a good feeling on that defense. I made the statement earlier in the year that we should be better at the end than we were at the beginning. Hopefully we can come together on defense.

Q: Do you feel like the roster was built the right way?

Holmgren:
I do. We have one philosophy here. The draft is our lifeline and lifeblood so you must do a good job of drafting players. In free agency you have to be very selective on whom you bring into the organization. Then you have to find a quarterback and develop him. That's when you have a chance to get where you want to be.

Q: In the past couple of years people are always wondering what's going to happen with your job, but isn't this year a validation for what can happen with patience?

Holmgren:
I don't know about a validation. I love this football team. I like the fact that we are having a good year and that our system is working most of the time. We've gone to the playoffs three years in a row. If a team has been down for awhile and you're trying to build something, then it's going to take a while to do that. You just have to have confidence and belief that you have the right people to do it. It's any owner's prerogative to make a change and we all understand that in this business. I also think that if you have a chance to explain what you're trying to do in detail then the owners have a decision to make. I'm very fortunate to be doing what I'm doing. I knew it wouldn't last forever, but I'm sure glad that I'm around for this season.

Q: How do you feel about having Darrell Jackson back this week?

Holmgren:
Darrell practiced this week a little bit. He's lifting and he is a good receiver. When he got hurt he might've been leading the league in catches. He was off to a great start. We're going to get him back. I think he has a chance to play on Sunday. We'll certainly get him back soon. If it's not Sunday then it will probably be next week.

Q: Have you talked about getting home-field advantage with your team?

Holmgren:
We've accomplished our first goal by winning the division. I can't remember a time that we've clinched the division as early as we have this time. It's new ground, but it's just the first step. Everybody knows that getting home-field advantage through the playoffs and perhaps the first-round bye really helps the team. Now we're shooting for our next goal which is home-field advantage. Home-field advantage is why you play in the regular season. Every game in our league has a huge significance, because you are playing for the best record. To be able to play at home means a lot. Our fans have been good up here for a long time. Since we built the new stadium they are really into it.

Q: Is Andre Dyson going to play for you?

Holmgren:
No, he hurt his ankle and we heard today that it was a high ankle sprain. You've heard that term before and you know it's not good. He'll be out four weeks. We'll just have to see how his leg responds down the road.

Q: What do you do at that spot?

Holmgren:
Good question. We're working on it now. We're pretty thin in the secondary, but we're going to bring some people in. We'll have enough guys to play on Sunday. Our depth at the position is real thin.

Q: What is Keith Gilbertson's role with you guys?

Holmgren:
Keith is an offensive consultant. He works with our offense and he actually coaches the offensive line. He's an assistant to (Offensive Lines Coach) Bill Laveroni. Through the week he does some special projects for me. He puts together a couple of packages for me during games.

Q: How is Ray Rhodes' health and what is his future with the Seahawks organization?

Holmgren:
He's feeling pretty good and he's getting better all the time. Since he had his second episode he has not been on the practice field with us nor has he gone to the games. He comes in during the morning and I make him go home early. He's very involved in the planning stages for our defense. He's very much a part of what we are about on defense. At this point the excitement of the games will get to him. He will say that he can handle it, but we know that he's kidding. Right now the best thing for him to do is not be on the field or at the stadium.

Q: When you were with the 49ers you all fared well on the road, so is there any lessons that you can draw from that experience?

Holmgren:
I had the best teacher in Bill Walsh. When we traveled everything was full of class. I mean really first class. We had the best hotels, the best foods and the best airplanes. Everything was to make it good for the players. The second thing that Bill always emphasized was that it was a business trip. This was not a social thing. Even though the players were excited about seeing family they had to keep in mind what they were there to do. I thought our players did a nice job of that. I tried to take that and do it where ever I was. I did it that way in Green Bay and I'm trying to do it that way in Seattle. You have to win some of those games on the road and it toughens your team up. It's a hostile environment and you have to deal with noise and other things that you don't have to deal with at home. The more mature you get then the more you can handle those things.

Q: Why has your team been better on the road this year?

Holmgren:
Offensively we've matured. We've managed to keep our core group together. They've handle adversity and the noise better. We communicate better. On defense you don't have the same type of noise problems, because the stadium is quite when their offense is working. Then we have young guys that are playing a lot and happy to be here.

Q: Is that one of the hallmarks that you identify when you're trying to develop a team?

Holmgren:
In the developmental stages of a team I don't look at that first. I think that might be the thing that comes last. I think that you have a whole lot of things to worry about prior to determining what your win vs. loss record is on the road. At some point when you fix the other things that need to be fix in order to build a program then you look at where you are. It's a gauge to see if you are ready to take the next big step.

Q: With that being said, does your Monday night win mean that you've put the finishing touches on this team?

Holmgren:
I wouldn't say finishing touches, but it was a marvelous night for us. It was a very unusual night. I had never been involved in a game quite like that. To do it in Philadelphia, which is a very difficult place to play was special. I know the team can build on that. With the things that have happened this season we can use those as building blocks. The Eagles game on Monday was certainly like that.


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