The TABS - A Slight Return?

Columnist Mark Olsen and former Columnist Ben "THE TABS" Tabler discuss the current affairs of the Seahawks and where it needs to go to become successful.

Columnist Mark Olsen and former Columnist Ben “THE TABS” Tabler discuss the current affairs of the Seahawks and where it needs to go to become successful. Yes, Seahawk fans, THE TABS has finally come back to Seahawks .NET to answer some questions and ask some more questions right back to .NET’s own Mark Olsen. Those that get scared easily by hard-nosed opinions should not ride this ride.

Mark Olsen-
Ok TABS, first of all, where have you been? Tell the readers about the bet you made last year and what would it take to break that commitment?

Ben Tabler-
It all began about a year ago (2003 season). I was convinced that the team would not make the playoffs, so I decided to lay it on the line. I stated that if the team made the playoffs, I would resign from the .NET staff and never post in the main forum again.

In truth, I was planning on leaving anyway, regardless of how the season turned out. I had moved halfway across the state to return to college, and I just didn't have the time to write anymore. Meanwhile, I'm perfectly content to lurk around in-between classes to see what the crew has to say.

As far as breaking the commitment, I don't think it will happen any time soon.
All right, my turn.

I'll stay on the subject of the Hawks. In your opinion, which of our impending free agents would you keep, and which would you let go?

Mark Olsen-
Hmm, a well-debated topic if there ever was one. I may be in the minority here, but here are my top 5 free agents:

1. Ken Lucas - He is turning into one of the best corners in the game, but I think we may have to pay a bit too much to keep him.

2. Shaun Alexander - Of course he's running like it's a contract year, and for that, he will get rewarded with a nice contract from the Seahawks. I really think he will be back, especially if they don't resign Walter.

3. Walter Jones - Something tells me that he won't be back next year. Too bad. He gets labeled as the bad guy, but all he does is show up in shape and dominate his opponents. You never hear any bad press about him off the field, and he is a leader to his teammates. For those that think we can plug in Pork Chop Womack and do the same, you're in for a bitter surprise.

4. Matt Hasselbeck - He has moved down on my chart from 2 to 4 in just the last 6 weeks. The great ones that take their teams to the Super Bowl have those “intangibles” that Matt just doesn’t seem to have. It’s unfortunate, but he just isn’t showing me that he deserves the big contract.

5. Chike Okeafor - A wildcard, but we may resign him if the front office doesn't go after another free agent upgrade at the position.

Ok TABS, now for the question that's been burning on all of our minds; What do you think of Hasselback after the first 9 games of 2004? Is he the QB of the present and future?

Ben Tabler-
He is what he is; a serviceable, backup system quarterback, and that's exactly how he's played this year.

It was obvious early on that the league had caught up to both Hasselbeck and Mike Holmgren's game planning. Opposing teams were using our own game plans against us, and by passing to set up the run, we played right into their hands.

Over the past four games, the offense has run much smoother since Holmgren wisely decided to take the game out of his hands and feature Shaun Alexander. Our offense is much better when we run to set up the pass, rather than pass to set up the run. When Hasselbeck is not put into a position to win the game and is given ample protection, he's a much better player.

I think management has already decided that they will give him whatever he wants, despite my objections. I don't think he's worth top ten money, let alone top five, which is probably what he will wind up getting. If we lose Walter Jones and Shaun Alexander as a result, it would be disastrous.

Next question; what will be the Hawks record at the end of the season?

Mark Olsen-
It's good to see that you stick to your guns, even when they don't have any bullets (concerning Hass).

My prediction for the Seahawk's ending regular season record? 10-6. I think we match our first half record at 5-3 and win our division against the Rams who should end at 9-7. This is based on the number of home games we have, the strength of the remaining teams, and the Rams’ tougher schedule. The scary part is that we may be facing those Rams in the first round.

If the Seahawks make the playoffs, what other teams do they have a chance of beating? Could this team beat the Eagles, Vikings, or Falcons?

Ben Tabler-
As usual, my guns are cocked, locked, and ready to rock.

If we had to go on the road, I don't think we could beat any of those teams. All three of those quarterbacks - Culpepper, McNabb and Vick - can beat you with their arm AND their legs. Against our defense, that doesn't sound very promising.

If we were lucky enough to get them in our house, we could beat Atlanta. If we got a monster game from Alexander, then we could upset the Eagles. However, Culpepper has been unconscious this year, and I don't think we could beat the Vikings regardless of where we play them.

I think playoff talk is premature, given the inconsistent nature of this team, along with their lack of mental toughness. I still think 2003 was an aberration, and that the team peaked out last year. They've showed flashes of brilliance against weak competition, but their three game skid showed just how far they have to go if they want to slug it out with the big boys.

Who's your midseason team MVPs, on each side of the ball?

Mark Olsen-
For offense, that's easy. Shaun Alexander is the 2nd leading rusher in the league (behind only Priest Holmes) and is 2nd to Holmes in touchdowns. Aside from the two games after he injured his knee when he didn't look 100%, he has dominated the games, making good decisions, finding the holes, and powering through would-be tacklers. We should ride his legs at least 25 times a game for the rest of the season, and let Hasselback and the receiving corps feast on the resulting play action opportunities.

For Defense, I would have to go with Grant Wistrom with Ken Lucas getting an honorable mention. Even though Wistrom missed three games with the knee injury, the defense is completely different when he was in the game. You can clearly see the difference when watching the lack of a pass rush against inferior offensive lines (Arizona, Carolina, & San Francisco). When he is in the game, he not only provides the constant motor and energy that wears down opponents, but that energy and leadership positively affects the other players on the team. Lucas has had some incredible games, but he has also made some costly mistakes, and the fact that the DB's keep getting beat deep is still a negative mark on an otherwise stellar performance.

One more question: Is Mike Holmgren the coach that can lead the Seahawks to a Super Bowl, or will he be gone in the next 2 years?

Ben Tabler-
It's been said that the shelf life of an NFL head coach is ten years. Mike Holmgren is presently working on his thirteenth season (consecutively), and I don't think the staff that he has assembled is nowhere near as good as the staff he had in Green Bay (Jon Gruden, Steve Mariucci, Andy Reid, Dick Jauron, Fritz Shurmur, etc). He's not the brilliant strategist that he once was, as evidenced by the fact that he's failed to record back-to-back winning seasons, and has yet to win a playoff game.

It took him five years to win a Super Bowl in Green Bay, while in year six here, he hasn't won a single playoff game, so I'd have to say no, he's not the guy who can get us there, let alone win it for us.

That being said, he will never be let go. If he leaves, it will be because he chooses to do so, rather than being fired. Holmgren is untouchable, and management wouldn't dare fire him because they don't want him to go to San Francisco.

John Clayton wrote an interesting article for ESPN during training camp, in which he hinted that Holmgren would finish out his contract and retire from coaching. If that were true, I'd like to see him remain with the team as a consultant. If he were to relieve himself from the grind of head coaching, he'd be an asset to the franchise.

This team does not need a major overhaul, but it could definitely use some tweaking. Perhaps he could help us in that respect, while a young, idealistic new coach (Jeff Tedford, Tyrone Willingham) could take over and put us over the top.

Same question to you.

Mark Olsen-
I would tend to agree. Holmgren was considered an offensive genius during his time in Green Bay because opposing coaches couldn't stop the system that he was running. The major problem that I see now is that he continues to run the same system year after year without making any noteworthy changes. This gives the advantage to the opposing coach to be able to study several years worth of game tape and see the same tendencies for situations. This is also magnified substantially when the opposing coach has coached under Holmgren. This has become glaringly obvious this year as other teams seem to know what plays are going to be called before they are called. Other coaches understand that the dynamic of the NFL calls for improvisation and versatility of their coaching style. It doesn't make a lot of sense for Holmgren not to implement some changes into his schemes, like shotgun formations, misdirection of the offensive movements, and the occasional trick play. These types of plays, when used in the proper times, can be highly effective.

The fact is, Holmgren relies too heavily on his players to win games. Good
coaches create game plans that rely less on individuals and more on team
concepts, as shown by the recent emergence of teams like the Patriots, Panthers, and Steelers. Unless Holmgren can begin to adapt his styles and schemes, we will continue to rely on the talent and playmaking of our players. This will not get us very far.

Thanks for the time, TABS, and continued success with your studies.

Mark Olsen writes frequently for Seahawks.NET. Feel free to send him feedback at Top Stories