The Seahawks.NET Fireside Chat

Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, was well known for his "Fireside Chats". Although he was not actually sitting out in the wilderness lecturing by the warmth of a raging fire, the description evoked a cozy setting and a free exchange of thought.

But there was one problem with FDR’s chats: he never talked about football! So the collective brain trust (and we use that phrase loosely) at Seahawks.NET decided to do it up the right way.

Of course, FDR was also famous for the quote, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” That seems applicable with this collection of musings as well.

ArosNET (A); ScottEklund (SE); FlyingGreg (FG); dfarrar777 (DF); rockhawkx (R); Hawkstorian (H); SchleprockHawk (S)

Q: What are you most anxious to see this season?

A: A vastly improved defense.
SE: Three things: improved pass rush from the front seven; better hands from the receivers; mental toughness throughout the roster.
FG: The interior push from Marcus Tubbs and Chuck Darby, and how effective the passing game will be with the changes at wide receiver.
DF: A few things: Lofa Tatupu at the NFL level, because I believe his intangibles are off the charts. I’ll also be watching new corner Kelly Herndon in the nickel very closely, given the Seahawks’ predilection for getting burned deep at the worst possible times. Last but not least, I want to see what our defensive sets are – especially when we are up by a double-digit score late in the game. I don’t think I can take another prevent implosion.
R: So much has been made of the “Ruskell” approach to player’s personalities and the effect that it has on the bottom line. I will be very interested to see this “team first” mentality.
H: What am I anxious about? Those damn Rams. I am excited to see a couple of wins against St. Louis.
S: I’m anxious to see how much anxiety I can stomach (may have to cut down on the beverages in September, doubtful I can keep it down). A roster exchange like we witnessed, does not normally result in success. And we’ve had it at every level. Can we expect that to mesh in September? I’m anxious to know what kind of team I have, because really (though I graded them on paper pretty strongly) I have no idea what to expect. I have not felt this clueless about how good or bad my team is… since I began paying attention. And I’m quite serious.

Q: If the Seahawks fail to win at least one playoff game, does Mike Holmgren get fired?

A: Not necessarily. If continued improvement on both sides of the ball is self-evident, I think he will see the eighth and final year of his original contract.
SE: I’m a Holmgren fan. I think he has a brilliant football mind and I think he is a good leader. For whatever reason, things just have not come together totally in Seattle. I don’t think he should be fired if he loses in the first round again, but I think he will be fired if he doesn’t produce.
FG: No. I think they will let him finish the final year of his deal, especially considering all of the changeover in the front office and on the roster.
DF: If they fail to get to the playoffs at all, he might be gone…perhaps of his own volition. Consider also that when Tim Ruskell was hired, the organization was in such disarray that Ruskell had to stay focused on damage control. Through the season, I’d expect him to analyze every possible factor at a microscopic level. Next season is when you’ll see Ruskell’s real stamp on the franchise, and he may have a different idea of an ideal coach.
R: I don’t think so. Other factors like regular season wins and statistical performance will dictate this.
H: No.
S: Only if there really is justice in the world. I’m finding it difficult to support him.

Q: What is your biggest concern heading into this season?

A: Injuries.
SE: Pass rush.
FG: Injuries and the mental barrier of beating the Rams.
DF: That not enough has been done to improve an ineffective pass rush. This has to do both with personnel and game planning.
R: Staying healthy.
H: Who is playing linebacker.
S: That the Seahawks might not be very good. There is not one area of concern. I am concerned that we might get run over while we try to figure out who’s who. I don’t want to be run over…

Q. The defense struggled mightily down the stretch in 2004. Attribute the causes (by %) to the following: a. Ray Rhodes; b. scheme; c. injuries; d. inexperience

A: Rhodes 49%, injuries 49%, inexperience 1%, scheme 1%
SE: Rhodes 35%, scheme 25%, injuries 25%, inexperience 15%
FG: injuries 45%, Rhodes 25%, scheme 20%, inexperience 10%
DF: scheme 50%, injuries 40%, inexperience 10%, Rhodes 0%
R: All of the above. The lack of a pass rush combined with inexperience and the inability of Rhodes to utilize player talent made for a very ugly defensive unit.
H: inexperience 52%, injuries 43%, Rhodes 2.5%, scheme 2.5%
S: Rhodes/scheme 75%, injuries 20%, inexperience 5%

Q. Name the one player – one each side of the ball – that the Seahawks cannot afford to lose.

A: Matt Hasselbeck and Grant Wistrom.
SE: Matt Hasselbeck and Marcus Tubbs.
FG: Matt Hasselbeck and Grant Wistrom.
DF: Matt Hasselbeck and Grant Wistrom.
R: Matt Hasselbeck and Grant Wistrom.
H: Matt Hasselbeck and Grant Wistrom.
S: Matt Hasselbeck and Grant Wistrom.

Q. Is the West Coast Offense outdated?

A: I don’t think so. If it’s executed the way it is meant to be, it can be a highly effective system. Look no further than Holmgren’s offense of 2003.
SE: To a certain extent. The problem with the WCO is that it asks wide receivers to take a short pass and turn it into a long gainer with the run after the catch. With the unbelievable athleticism of the defensive backs these days, it is tougher to break games open with the short and intermediate passing game.
FG: No, but Holmgren does need to breathe new life into it. I think if the receivers catch the ball the offense will be fine.
DF: Not at all. As recently as January 2003, you had a Super Bowl in which both teams (Tampa Bay and Oakland) ran variants of it. The Eagles have been to four consecutive NFC Championship games, and they run it. You don’t hear as much about it lately because New England’s “East Coast Offense” has ruled the roost, but many teams still run the WCO.
R: The general concept that it is based off of is not outdated. However, the actual “49ers style” WCO that Holmgren favors is becoming much less effective die to the number of years that defensive coordinators have had to come up with schemes and adjustments to counter the productivity.
H: Parts of it are, but every offense continues to evolve…such as the emphasis on the running game last year.
S: It is the way Holmgren runs it. He could stand to add a few wrinkles. And more importantly, implement it less predictably.

Q. The Hawks drafted a center in the first-round this year. Good move?

A: Not a sexy move but after Spencer is entrenched as a Pro Bowler the next 10-13 years for the Seahawks, nobody will ever doubt that it was a great move.
SE: Always better to draft the best player available than for need. Spencer is an absolute stud and will be an anchor on the line within two or three seasons.
FG: Ask me that again in 2008! It is too soon to tell. We need a replacement for Robbie Tobeck, so I understand taking a center…I just didn’t expect it would be with our #1 pick.
DF: Spencer wasn’t the “sexy” pick, but the team has less depth at center than at any other position. Tobeck’s amazing reliability has obscured that fact from common perception. By all accounts, Spencer has the potential for multiple trips to the Pro Bowl.
R: Good move based on need for the future. If he pans out like he’s supposed to (ala Kevin Mawae), it will be a great choice.
H: Ask me in two years.
S: I absolutely support the pick.

Q. A “surprise” name that you think won’t make the final cut…or already didn’t?

A: Jerheme Urban.
SE: Isaiah Kacyvenski.
FG: Isaiah Kacyvenski.
DF: Jerheme Urban (Well, it USED to be a surprise…)
R: Cedric Woodard.
H: Rocky Bernard.
S: Wayne Hunter.

Q. The special teams were not so special in 2004: no blocked kicks and no TD’s. Will that change in
2005?

A: With Bob Casullo in charge? You bet your blocked punt it will.
SE: I think the return units will be vastly improved.
FG: Yes. I think we’ll see at least one kick return for a score, and several blocks.
DF: I like Casullo’s attitude and ability to motivate, and he’s the type of coach who will prepare for every possible outcome. His predecessor (Mark Michaels) may have been the least-effective position coach in the NFL in 2004, so there is nowhere to go but up.
R: No way to tell. It certainly cannot get worse.
H: They won’t give up quite as many big plays, the return game doesn’t figure to be much different.
S: Yes. I have no factual basis for saying that (does anybody?) other than the fact it can hardly get worse.

Q. Who will be the best player, short-term and long-term, from the Hawks 2005 draft class?

A: Spencer, no question.
SE: Spencer.
FG: Short term – Lofa Tatupu; long term – Spencer
DF: Short term – Tatupu; long term – Tatupu and Spencer. Sleeper: Willis.
R: Tatupu.
H: Tatupu.
S: Spencer (sorry “Tofu”).

Q. Name the 3 wide receivers that make the team after “locks” Jackson, Engram and Bannister.

A: Joe Jurevicius, D.J. Hackett and Jerome Pathon.
SE: Jurevicius, Hackett and Pathon.
FG: Jurevicius, Hackett and Peter Warrick*.
DF: Jurevicius, Hackett and Pathon.
R: Pathon, Jurevicius and Hackett.
H: Pathon, Jurevicius and Hackett.
S: Hackett, Jurevicius and Pathon.

* - Editor’s note: Greg is cheating here. These inputs were collected before Warrick signed, so don’t think he is some kind of clairvoyant.

Q. Shaun Alexander had 1696 yards rushing and 20 total TD’s last season. More or less in 2005?

A: Less yards, more TD’s.
SE: Less yardage, but more touchdowns. My prediction is 1500-1550 yards and 24 touchdowns.
FG: Less of both. I believe the passing game will be more effective and they won’t have to rely on Alexander as much. He will still get close to those marks, however.
DF: Less of both, but that’s good for the team. Hopefully, Seattle’s maddening inability to produce consistently in the red zone with the passing game is a thing of the past. Holmgren isn’t going to stop calling red zone pass plays just because they don’t work. I’d like to think that Shaun will get more catches this year.
R: Less. The middle of the O line will not be able to hold up.
H: More.
S: I really don’t care. All that I care about is him hitting the line with authority when we need that one yard. ‘Cuz that’s what we are missing.

Q. Speaking of Alexander, will he be a Seahawk in 2006?

A: Nope.
SE: No.
FG: No. The team will invest its cap money in a long-term deal for Steve Hutchinson.
DF: No. This is a weird marriage between player and team, and it will end when Alexander is allowed to test his value on the open market. Look for the Seahawks to select a running back fairly high in the 2006 draft.
R: No.
H: No. It will be a mistake, but the team won’t pay him like someone else will.
S: Doubtful. There’s a reason he was the odd man out. And quite honestly, I think it would be a mistake to lock that kind of a contract on top of what we already have.

Q. Who really needs to step it up for the Hawks this season?

A: Jerramy Stevens, Rocky Bernard and Marcus Tubbs.
SE: Marcus Trufant. He is the golden boy of Hawk fans, but his play has leveled off in my opinion. Trufant must make more big plays to take the step to being an elite corner.
FG: Lots of people. Rhodes, Wistrom and Stevens are three off the top of my head.
DF: Stevens (could be a terror in the red zone) and Tubbs (it would be like having two first-round draft picks this year).
R: Defensive line.
H: Tubbs.
S: Coaches. All of them. A team cannot be allowed to sleepwalk through two months of NFL football like ours did last year. Motivate your troops, or you are not qualified to retain your position.

Q. (a) best move of the off-season; (b) worst move of the off-season:

A: Best – firing Bob Whitsitt (which led to the hiring of Tim Ruskell). Worst – letting Ken Lucas go.
SE: Best – Chuck Darby. Worst – not signing Hutchinson to a long-term extension.
FG: Best – (tie) releasing Koren Robinson, Anthony Simmons and Chris Terry; re-hiring Mike Reinfeldt. Worst – Not making a stronger push for a top-flight edge rusher.
DF: Best – re-hiring Reinfeldt. I have nothing but respect for Tim Ruskell, but he probably would not have taken the position had Reinfeldt not come back. It’s pretty simple, really: no Reinfeldt, no season. Worst – drafting David Greene in the third round when linebacker Darryl Blackstock was still available. Blackstock has the potential to be Peter Boulware without the injury concerns.
R: Best – Ruskell. Worst – Not getting a pass rushing end in free agency or the draft.
H: Best – Andre Dyson. Worst – Alex Bannister.
S: Best – Ruskell. Worst - I’m a big Chad Brown supporter. That hurt. But truly, and I’m no homer, we did far better this off-season that I ever could have foreseen. We cleverly avoided catastrophe, and upgraded the character of the personnel. I’m quite impressed. Having said that? I cannot for the life of me feel content with another year watching Holmgren at the helm. I’ve lost all confidence in him. I find his lack of communication skills infuriating, and his play calling often numbingly frustrating.

Alright…the fire appears to be dying. Time for a final round:

Q. How much of an on-field effect do you think the team’s new emphasis on character will have?

A: A tremendous effect. Outside of injuries, I think what the Seahawks lacked the most in 2004 was lack of heart which is a direct by-product of team character and chemistry. When we are up 17 points in the 4th quarter, I expect to see the new infusion of team character kick in and keep the game out of reach to the opponent. No more Rams and Cowboys debacles. No more “letting the collective air out of the tires of the team” early in the season from a hard loss. If we lose it will be because we gave it our all and didn’t let down for 4 quarters but the other team simply beat us. This is where player character will manifest the most in 2005.
SE: Hard to say. You also need great players to be a great team. I think that personal accountability will be the emphasis on this team in 2005 and if they can get over the “Rams Hurdle” they could do some serious damage in the post season. I think Hawks fans can expect to see more of the high character players coming to the team in the next three or four seasons and that is when they can expect to really see the effects it will have on the team.
FG: We have had a lot of talent the last few years. We have not been maxed out on character. I think this team will handle adversity better and perform better because of the attitude adjustment.
DF: I think it will make a big difference, but it’ll be more in the things you won’t see. You won’t see players missing practice and getting suspended for God knows what reason. You won’t see players “giving up” late in games. You won’t see the laissez faire attitude regarding discipline and accountability that you’ve seen on this team for many years. That attitude permeates an organization and fosters less than optimal effort. Now, I believe there’s a better atmosphere in which the on-field talent can show through.
R: I think it can’t help but have an impact, though team chemistry is a bit overrated. (see question 1)
H: The character issue is a red herring. Some time in the next 3 years, a Tim Ruskell acquired player will have a serious off-field issue and Ruskell will be criticized for not checking his “character”.
S: The difference between winning and losing. This team is NOT as talented as last years (ignore the spin). If the results match or surpass last years record? Then the character is clearly the answer to our ills…

(Editor's Note: Thanks to our own Greg Renick for putting this idea together, not to mention sorting through all the blurbage!)

 


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