Alexander, Hasselbeck Talk Playoffs

On Monday, Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and running back Shaun Alexander talked to the media about the postseason, Brett Favre's pranksterous nature, giving gifts to the O-line, and the advantages of being the NFC's #1 seed.

HALFBACK SHAUN ALEXANDER:

(On not having a game this Sunday…) “I think it is exciting knowing that you are already in the second-round of the playoffs, way better than last year. It is good. We have a schedule that is good for us to get fresh. We are going to break some things down some of our tendencies that we have offensively to correct them for the playoffs, but really it is about getting our rest and getting ready to play super, super fast in two weeks.”

(Will he be watching the games this weekend?) “I have not even thought about it yet. I am sure that there will be food involved. So I sure we will all be together somehow.”

(Who would he would prefer to play?) “I don’t care. We are ready to go. Whatever it is, we are going to go out there and try to play great.”

(How does a week off help his body?) “Football is just a violent sport. You look at the game, everybody knows I am good friends with Tiki (Barber) and guys are falling on his ankles and legs through the week. I am good friends with (New York Giants DE Michael) Strahan, he got cut in the eye. It is one of those things where if they were in our situation they would have a whole week to heal up before they even start practicing for this game they have to play. But, they don’t. That is the great thing about winning extra games during the season. You get a chance to heal everything up. A week where you are not banging, if that is the way your team does it and that is the way we are going to do it.”

(Does this year feel different than previous ones heading into the playoffs…) “Yeah, it feels like the last two years, even though we won the division last year felt like more of that we go and take our stance and our place in the playoffs. The years before felt like it was given to us or we slid in, you all know all the phrases for that. This year feels like we set some goals and we achieved them. It was because we went out there and played well and we hit people and we blocked and we ran and we tackled. That is the thing that we wanted to establish this year and we have done it.”

(How many phone calls did he get yesterday after breaking the single-season touchdown record?) “Tons. It was really exciting. When I finally got back here, I think it kind of sunk in that I had done something special. It was fun. Even in the locker room all the guys were still excited, all the linemen and Mack (Strong). I already told you I was still kind of going off the highs and lows of the whole week. It started sinking in on the plane that we accomplished something that was big - the touchdowns and even the rushing title. It was something that we should be proud of. It was exciting.”

(On his gifts to the linemen…) “I have already got them their first gift. I have to dig into the bag, especially if we get to Detroit, which is the plan for the bigger and better gift. These guys are a bunch of gadgets guys, it is so funny. You can’t find little things for their big fingers. So I got them, it is like a walking TiVo basically. It is a seven-inch screen and you can record movies and TV shows. Everybody has got their music they like. You can record pictures of your family. Everybody was really, really excited. They came in the night that I was leaving so I bought them in everybody’s locker and they took off. They were all pumped. I saw them with them on the plane after the game was over.”

(Who figured out how to work it first?) “I don’t know. I saw three guys that actually had them on. I also gave them to our fullbacks too. So Leonard Weaver was the first one I was that had it working. Robbie (Tobeck) comes up to me and says, “Man, that was the greatest gift, I am going to wait until Hutch (guard Steve Hutchinson) gets his figured out.’ It was really good.”

QUARTERBACK MATT HASSELBECK:

(Does the enthusiasm of the playoffs start this week, or do they catch their breath?) “I don’t know, I really don’t know. I have not been in this situation before. It’s a bye week, we’re not playing anybody this week, we’re not game planning for anybody this week. The way I understand the schedule is we’re going to come in and work on some things that we feel we need to get better at and then the other thing we’re going to do is try and get stronger. Obviously we’re going to get healthier this week by not taking hits and stuff like that, but, we lifted weights and we’re lifting weights Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. And hopefully be fresh next week.”

(Is it strange, not knowing who they’ll play next week?) “Yes, but it's okay. I’ll take it. It beats the alternative.”

(Will he watch the games?) “I’ll probably watch them all just because I enjoy it. There are other guys that make a joke about you were watching a football game and you didn’t have too? I enjoy it and I love it. I’ll watch the AFC games and I’ll watch the NFC games. There are some guys on our team that have probably watched 90 percent of the bowl games. Sometimes it’s fun to be a fan too.”

(Is it different, watching the game on network TV?) “It’s different for I think the guys that try to look at the safeties and the secondary. TiVo has made it a lot easier I know that and instant replay and all the different camera angles. It depends. I always love when you can actually hear a little bit of what the quarterback is saying at the line of scrimmage that always makes it a little bit more exciting. With the game film that we get to watch there is no sound, there is no sound at all. The picture is not great; you’re looking at it from really, really far away. It’s like a silent movie almost. Mack Strong is used to watching those.”

(After watching a game on TV, does he need to watch coaches film to really understand what went on?) “Yes, absolutely. The one thing that is fun to listen to on the TV copy is a lot of times the commentators will get to sit down with the coaching staff throughout the year. as an example, say Troy Aikman and Joe Buck did six Chicago games this year, they have a feel for ‘hey, we talked to Lovie Smith, this is what he wants to get out of this game or he would like to do this early in the game’. I don’t know if they’ve ever done a Chicago game, its just as an example of getting a feel for what coaching staffs are like. I think of the Monday Night game and you heard about Jim Johnson their defensive coordinator saying ‘hey, we know that in crucial situations the Seahawks are going to do this’. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know, but it’s good to know what they’re thinking maybe a little bit.”

(On the impact of coach Holmgren this year…) “It’s his team. He’s the head coach. He’s the guy running the show and he’s the guy that speaks to the team after every practice and he’s the guy that’s going to let us have it if our practices aren’t good enough. He’s in charge. He’s had more of an impact than anybody else. I don’t know how to state it exactly. It’s his team.”

(Has Coach Holmgren changed during Hasselbeck’s starting tenure here?) “I’m sure that he’s changed but I think that the way he reacts is I think in large part to how we play. For a long time I think that we as a team didn’t meet his expectation level. I think now that having been together the coaching staff really knows what he expects, the players really know what he expects. I think even our young guys know what he expects because it’s a clear message coming from our coaches, coming from our veteran guys, and right on down to the young guys. I don’t want to overthink it, but there’s a program and he sets the program and we kind of buy into it and it’s been working.”

(On Favre repeating Hasselbeck's "We want the ball and we're going to score" coin flip comment from the 2003 playoffs...)
“Yeah, without overanalyzing it, it was just kind of what it was when I did it. It was just some guys who were really good friends of mine. It was a huge situation in terms of the game and the outcome, but really it was just a bunch of grown men acting like kids, having fun and playing a game that we love, a game that we have always loved and feel really fortunate to be able to play for a living. It is more fun when you are playing against guys that you know well and guys that you respect. It was good.”

(Did Favre tell him ahead of time?) “Oh, yeah. He looked a little nervous though like, should I do it? Bernie Kukar was the referee, so it was all there. Then when he won I saw the look on his face, he was so excited it was tails. Trust me, this isn’t the first time I have been the butt of his jokes. I am very much used to it. They are usually good jokes, so I can’t complain.”

(Any preference who they play?) “No, I don’t really care. Either way it’s going to be a tough game. All the teams that are playing if you look at them, they’ve had great years, they’ve had great seasons, they are well coached. Each team has something special about them. New York, defensively anyway, you think about New York, wow, they have two great defensive ends. You think about Chicago and you think about the same kind of thing. Those guys have had a great year on defense. Washington, Gregg Williams has done a great job with that defense. Carolina, you have Julius Peppers and all those guys. Some really good defenses on that list. Whoever it is, I’m just glad we got to play it at our place. It will be fun to watch and let everybody beat each other up.”

(Is it easier to face a defense he’s already faced?) “No, I don’t think so. We’ve played Carolina recently. We kind of know who they are and what their scheme is anyway. We don’t know them that well. Whoever it is we’ll have a week to prepare for them and we’ll just treat it like any other week preparation wise and let it fly. Really we have to play well no matter whom it is, we have to play our best. I think one thing we’ve done well this year is we’ve focused more on us and less on the opponent and in turn you do better I think.”

(On things that stood out about finishing 13-3…) “I really haven’t looked at it. The season is over, the regular season and we haven’t had our look back meeting or evaluated the season. The next season is kind of starting for us. Off the top of my head I would say probably the turnovers were down, sacks were down, some of those things that I try to work on each year. Obviously you can always improve in those areas. I think probably one of the biggest things is just that guys stepped up.

“Guys that in Cheney, when we arrived the first day, I don’t think anybody as you looked around during stretch said, ‘hey, Joe Jurevicius has to have a career year or this team isn’t going to go anywhere’. Or ‘if Mack Strong doesn’t get to the Pro Bowl this year’. Guys had great years, the best years of their career. Jerramy Stevens, a bunch of guys. No one said ‘hey Sean Locklear, I hope he does really well against Michael Strahan’. Sean Locklear has had a great year, Chris Gray has had a career year, Robbie Tobeck is an alternate for the Pro Bowl. Somebody pinch me, it’s crazy.”


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