Holmgren: Faith in the Youth Movement

"Future or no future, in the here and now, Seattle must find a way to win with a distracted Koren Robinson and manage to cover defensive fronts without Chad Brown, Anthony Simmons or Grant Wistrom in the game."

Seattle fans know what aging players look like. Once famous for fielding some of the best and brightest players in the Majors, the aging, tuckered-out old Seattle Mariners made former skipper Bob Melvin look like a rookie.

After observing the Seahawks -- listed in the beginning of the season to be the fourth youngest group of players, Chris Collinsworth announced to the entire world that Seattle is a group of “wannabes” calling the cast of Seahawk receivers a bunch of “clowns.” As CBS Sportsline put it, “losing back-to-back games to good teams proves Seattle obviously is not ready for prime time.”

OK – so much for the chic pick of the year.

On the other hand, never before has Mike Holmgren had so much potential in his arsenal of weapons. So, why does he have to wait so long for them to arrive? Few if anyone has completely written off the Seahawks after losing to the Super Bowl Champion Patriots last week since the consecutive losses of the past two weeks are chalked up to maturity, not ability.

"I believe we are going to be a better football team at the end of the year than we are right now," Holmgren predicted last week’s losing effort. Future or no future, in the here and now, Seattle must find a way to win with a distracted Koren Robinson and manage to cover defensive fronts without Chad Brown, Anthony Simmons or Grant Wistrom in the game.

A concern going into Phoenix to play the Cardinals is Seattle’s penchant for giving up the big play. This weakness gives the once proud Seahawk defense a black eye. “We got bit by a long play and that's something we must prevent and improve upon,” Holmgren observed after last week’s defeat. “In the two games that we lost, those [long plays] were absolutely key reasons as to why we lost the game; not the only reason, but part of it. It was one of the things that we talked about that we had to fix this off season. It's come up again and we see how it hurts us, and we have to do something about it. We’ve got to prevent that if we can.”

By the midweek practice, Holmgren made even more definitive comments about this concern, “It will stop. It must stop. We can’t get balls thrown over our heads. To me that’s not a difficult concept. I’ve stressed that with the coaches. I’ve talked to individual players. It must stop."

Considering that after allowing 23 points in their first 3 3/4 games, the Seahawks defense surrendered 43 in the last two games, they diminished in their effectiveness on both sides of the ball in rapid fashion. In the red zone in the Patriots game the offense was 20% effective and did not take advantage of an opportunity to score a touchdown for the lead with a first and ten from the Patriots 13.

Holmgren attributes this to youthful inexperience, “It's hard to go through the growing pains that way right now, but I also said yesterday I believed this would be a better football team with each game as we go along in the season. Because of our youth, on defense in particular, we'll be better, stronger, at the end of the season than we are right now."

Not lacking faith that Seattle is a better team than hit the field last week, there is still a fair amount of growing up to do. “I believe we are capable of better things, of better concentration, better execution, and we’re going to demand that,” Holmgren, explains. “The players have to look very hard at how they played that game [last week] and make the necessary corrections. I was very disappointed in how we started the game, in particular on offense.”

Suddenly, Jerry Rice enters the picture. Rice is no “clown” and is certainly less of a “wannabe” compared to Chris Collinsworth himself.

Rice is an aging player, but very much the genuine article when it comes to work ethic and dedication to the task of winning. Four receiver sets could prove to be more effective, but don’t be surprised if the results are more evident from the starting blocks. His presence and abilities will undoubtedly serve to lift the team off to a better start against the Cardinals. Rice cut his teeth on the West Coast offense that made Holmgren famous. He should make an immediate contribution, and give Matt Hasselbeck a serious target for options.

Rice will make the young Seahawks a little older by average, but more importantly, a whole lot wiser when it comes to winning football games.

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

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