.NET: Are the 2005 Seahawks better than the team that took the field last year?
Farnsworth: The key word here is “team.” Last year’s club had better talent – Koren Robinson, Chris Terry, Anthony Simmons, Chike Okeafor, Ken Lucas – but also the baggage that came with those players.
I like the way Tim Ruskell has gone about acquiring replacements. The team’s first-year president of football operations has brought in high-character, high-effort players that are pleased to be with the team and accept whatever role comes their way. Are they better players than those they’re replacing? No. At least not in the standard measurables. But they’re better people, which should make for a better team atmosphere.
.NET: What do you think this team must do this year in order for Mike Holmgren to get the final year of his 8-year, $32 million contract?
Farnsworth: First, Holmgren has to decide if he wants to return for the final season of his contract. He was fried at the end of last season, a combination of all the injuries, the devastating collapses against the Rams in Week 5 and Cowboys in Week 13 and the constant butting of his head against the wall that was (former team president) Bob Whitsitt.
Of course, the team must perform better – and definitely more consistently – for management to decide it wants Holmgren back. The key words that Whitsitt always used when asked about Holmgren were “showing progress.” The team needs to show progress, and the one thing it hasn’t done since Holmgren arrived in 1999 is win a playoff game. The Seahawks might not have to actually do that this season, but they must show progress toward finally being able to do it.
.NET: Assuming Holmgren does enough to keep his job, do you think Ruskell will extend his contract so he isn’t a lame-duck coach in 2006?
Farnsworth: Again, Holmgren’s situation plays into that as much as anything else. He doesn’t have to keep coaching, and talks about his other interests. But I think if the progress is shown, and Holmgren can reignite his passion for the game, Ruskell would want to avoid the lame-duck status and the uncertainty that comes with it.
.NET: What are your predictions for the performance of the defense this season? Will they put more pressure on the QB? Will they be able to stop the run better?
Farnsworth: Improvement? The defense can’t possibly be worse than it was last season, can it?
Just staying healthy will help the situations against the run and in pressuring the quarterback. A healthy Grant Wistrom will allow for more pressure on the QB. Better coverage in the secondary will allow that extra half-blink for a blitzer to get there. An in-shape and rededicated Marcus Tubbs will help in the middle of the line – with pressure and stopping the run.
But the one thing they haven’t been able to add is that speed pass-rusher. It eluded them in free agency and also the draft. It became an even bigger priority when Chad Brown was released. Peter Boulware could be the answer, if they can persuade him to sign on their terms.
.NET: Best free-agent signing by the team this offseason?
Farnsworth: Cornerback Andre Dyson. Even Ruskell admits that they patched for players lost by getting the best free agents available – Kelly Herndon for Ken Lucas and Bryce Fisher for Chike Okeafor. But Dyson is a good player who can make those around him better. He also has the speed to run with the faster receivers in the league, leaving Herndon to supply a physical presence as the nickel back.
.NET: What do you think about the Seahawks’ new direction? Do you think character can be more important that raw talent?
Farnsworth: I touched on this in the answer to the “Is this team better” question, and I agree with what Ruskell is doing. I just hope it works.
Character and effort can, to a certain extent, make up for raw talent, as the Buccaneers and Patriots have shown in their Super Bowl seasons. It’s getting players that want to play for your team, regardless of their role or the size of the their pay check. It’s similar to what Chuck Knox was able to do with the Seahawks when he arrived in 1983.
But can that “magic” still be worked in this era of free agency and inflated contracts?
.NET: Finally, tell us a little about your new gig at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Who will be covering the Seahawks beat? What new projects will you be working on?
Farnsworth: I’m glad you asked, since there has been a lot of misinformation floating around out there. I am leaving the “beat” – the daily coverage of every aspect of the team – after 27 seasons. But I am not “done” with the Seahawks.
I’ll be doing NFL at-large coverage, but a lot of it will be focused on upcoming Seahawks opponents. I’ll also be doing the sidebars at games, rather than the game stories and notebooks. I’m really looking forward to this, because I think that element always has been the weakest part of the P-I’s game day coverage.
The new beat writer will be Danny O’Neil, who has been covering the Sonics. Danny has covered a professional beat, so he not only knows what he’s getting into, he’s excited about it.
In addition to the NFL at-large and Seahawks duties, I’m also being groomed as the P-I’s Olympics beat writer with an eye toward the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver/Whistler. The combination of covering the Olympics in Italy in February and Beijing in 2008, along with still getting to write football, was an offer I just couldn’t refuse. I’ll also be involved in coverage of the Seattle Storm, which I don’t consider a demotion or punishment. Maybe it’s spending 55 years with a “girl’s name”, or the fact that I have two daughters who played sports. I enjoy women’s athletics.
But you’ll still be seeing my name on Seahawks stories. You’re not getting rid of me that easily.
Scott Eklund writes and reports for Seahawks.NET and Dawgman.com. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clare Farnsworth has written professionally about the Seattle Seahawks for twenty-seven years. He is a well-respected and highly trusted reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Feel free to contact him at email@example.com.
The staff of Seahawks.NET would like to extend our gratitude to Clare for the time and care he took with this interview. We're honored to present it.