Groundhog Bye

.NET's Don Christensen maintains that while impatient Seahawk fans regard the bye week with the same affection they give the Oakland Raiders, the break is just the jumpstart the team may need.

The clock radio goes off in the middle of “I Got You, Babe” by Sonny and Cher. It is a familiar scene for Mike Holmgren who, in his waking moments, ponders the recurring season opener against the New Orleans Saints. In the same way that fictitious TV Weatherman Phil Conners (played by Bill Murray in the poignant comedy, Groundhog Day) faces his fifth year in a row covering a recurring ceremony, Holmgren, having completed his 5th year with Seattle wonders again, “Will I win a championship this season? Or, will I forever be trapped in this unending pursuit of pro football in ‘also-ran’ status.?”

If there are flashes of the Groundhog Day premise in every coach’s life, then Holmgren would stand as good a chance as any to rectify remaining issues left over from 2003.

Therefore, it could not be better timing for a bye. Earlier than desired by coaches and players, this bye gives everyone a chance to freeze-frame tendencies that cost the Seahawks dearly last year.

Take K-Rob for example. By comparison, Darrell Jackson is now far more productive as a receiver, if not one of the most consistent in the NFL. Jackson did some groundhog time.

So Koren Robinson takes a lesson or two from Jackson about how to “yodafy” his game through mind, body, hand and eye coordination for catching balls. In fact, Holmgren put together a video of K-Rob to "see if there is a constant thread as to why that happens." Déjà vu.

Ken Lucas started the season with authority last year, while having some difficulty sustaining his edge by mid-season. Reflecting on behalf of the young defense, Lucas, the NFC Defense Player of the Week for Week 3 said, “I think we were feeling too good about ourselves because we hadn't been in that position for a while.” Lucas adds, “now that we have had a taste of being 3-0, we know what to expect and we know we've got to go out and keep grinding because our schedule is about to start getting a little bit harder." Mr. Lucas, may the force be with you.

And of course, the offense, sputtering at the first part of the season, has a great opportunity to accelerate to full throttle by mid to late season. Last year, they provided just enough output to beat the Rams at home with K-Rob’s winning catch. Then the slow start offense went to Green Bay only to be shut down by the second half.

This year, the Seahawks struggled offensively in Tampa, but fortunately, the defense had Brad Johnson and Chris Simms to deal with and not Brett Favre. Other than a perfect delivery of the ball to Koren Robinson in the end zone at Tampa, Hasselbeck looked more 2000-like than his late season 2003 form.

On top of that, it took a few short offensive series before Seattle fired the offense back up a slow start against the 49ers.

By the end of last week’s victory, with four touchdown drives in all, Hass completed 21 of 30 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns, earning a 117.9 rating. There’s nothing like getting it right the next time ‘round, ala’ Harry Potter in The Prisoner of Azkaban.

No complaints here about the latest band wagon. Bring it on! At home at thunderous Qwest Field, The Seattle defense can use all of the false starts by opposing teams as it can get. For long time die-hards, there’s an odd feeling about having to reeducate the forthcoming fans on how to make noise, but hey -- knock yourself out! Bill the Beer Man – where are you now?

Oh yes, and there’s that early season failed campaign to nickname the Seahawks defense again, this time yielding more unoriginal, ugly ideas than ever before. One local writer presumed to call the Hawks' D the “Teal Curtain.” Say it ain’t so!

Consider what a great opportunity this could be to make the most of what is going right this season and why. Why not use the bye to reinforce the value of winning two tough games on the road and capitalize on defensive momentum? How about taking advantage where there’s a chance to underscore the balance between boldness and overconfidence as the Hawks look ahead to the Rams.

Historically, the bye week is a sensitive subject for Seattle and no amount of “Knoxisms” (“the bye didn’t run, the bye didn’t block, the bye didn’t pass”) can cover-up a reoccurring point of failure from the past. Coaches despise a break in momentum as much as fans hate to wait out full two weeks without Seahawk football. Tendencies that make up a huge recipe for a let-down can be addressed as Seattle’s coaches and players contemplate why the Seahawks are truly different this season.

Take it from lessons learned on a long, cold February day in Pennsylvania by Phil Conners, that relentless weatherman, who almost missed his dream girl.

The bye could not have come at a better time.

Don Christensen writes for Seahawks.NET. You can reach him at audioeffects@yahoo.com.


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