Seahawks Talk Playoffs

Holmgren, Hasselbeck and Alexander talk about the NFC Championship game, past and present opponents, their MVP getting his bell rung, unnecessary distractions, and much more.

HEAD COACH MIKE HOLMGREN

(Holmgren’s Opening statement…) “Needless to say, it was a pretty good meeting with the team today and we’re all feeling pretty good about what happened. Tough ball game against the Redskins. They were a very physical team but we did persevere so now we get to play for the right to go to the Super Bowl, which is very, very exciting for us. It will be a normal practice week. We are a little sore, a couple guys are a little sore and stiff and we have to get them ready to go. Very, very excited about the opportunity.”

(What are your thoughts on Shaun Alexander’s health?) “Our running back is pretty good. When I saw him at our meeting today at 1 o’clock he said he was feeling good, he’s fine. So, I’m assuming unless something happens, I’m assuming he’ll be ready to practice.”

(Have you reviewed the post-concussion tests with the doctors?) I haven’t talked to the doctors. I’m assuming he did and I will talk to them probably this afternoon sometime after this. I had that feeling right after the game even that he was a little bit better than I have seen other concussion guys. I think in this day and age we’re being more careful with that type of injury and that’s the right thing to do.”

(Did Alexander lose consciousness?) “I don’t know. He was pretty wobbly. I’m sure that any time something like that happens for a little bit you’d kind of go out.”

(What exactly happened to Shaun on the play?) “It looked like a knee (hit him). It looked to me like LaVar Arrington came in on a tackle and Shaun was going down and it looked like his knee got him in the side of the hat.”

(On Alexander’s fumble…) “I’m not worried about it. When he sees the film he’s going to kick himself too because he started and he cut back. If he just stayed with the play he would have walked in(to the end zone). It would have been a really fine football play and a good way to start that game. He’s made things happen by cutting back and when he sees it he’s going to kick himself.”

(Will you limit Shaun at all this week during practice?) “Not unless I have to. If they tell me he can go, he’s going to go. He didn’t get very tired on Saturday, so he should be pretty fresh. I always do what the doctors tell me to do on that. We’re not going to take it lightly. He said he felt good today. I have to meet with the doctors and if he can go he will practice regular practice. No one is going to hit him too hard during the week, I promise you that.”

(On the other injuries…)D.D. Lewis is a little sore although he played in the football game and did pretty well. That situation with his foot is going to kind of last until we’re all done. (Darrell) Jackson’s back is sore, he’s a little stiff. He got a shot in the back and it was a really good one. He took a hit in the back I should say and it was a really good one so it’s bruised, he’s sore and (Bobby) Engram the same thing.”

(On the punt return situation…) “I met with Bob (Casullo) and we’re going to make some changes on that team. I’m not going to go into great detail as to what we’re going to do, but that part of our game, its too bad because our coverage teams were so good in the game, I mean so good and Jimmy Williams who is a very, very confident catcher and a good catcher of punts, I don’t worry about him too much when he’s back there, and this can happen. The first one he kind of let bounce and then the next one he tried to catch. He wasn’t quite sure I don’t think when went back there what he was going to do. I think that position of all the positions of play, that guy has to know exactly and be confident in what’s going to happen. And then in his defense we didn’t block very well for him. Anytime, if you’re returning punts and you have a punt and you think things are going to get blocked and you get smacked, I don’t care who you are, I think that sticks in your mind just a little bit. We will make some changes. It was not a good part of our game and hopefully we can make some improvements in that area.”

(What are your thoughts after watching the Bears/Panthers game?) “I thought Soldier Field, the actual turf wasn’t very good for the game. I like ours a lot better. I thought it was two teams just slugging it out and it was a great game to watch. It will help us; it will be a good game to study. Both teams I think have real heavyweight defenses yet both teams moved the ball. Give credit to both teams.”

(On Steve Smith…) “Special player. He’s one of those guys that when you prepare for them you better have a plan to try and do something to make it a little more difficult for him otherwise he can take over a game by himself, you’ve seen him do it, he did it yesterday. He’s done it before.”

(On the advantage of a depleted running game in Carolina…) “I will say this, a guy like DeShaun (Foster) gets hurt or Shaun Alexander gets hurt or anybody who is your runner gets hurt, I think you have to be careful of saying now we can relax and we can look over there. They have the young man that they put in the game that was running the football is a very good player. You can not ignore their running game and we won’t do that. I think every defensive coordinator that I have ever met really focuses in on defending the run first usually because if you can’t do that you’re in for a long, long, long day. So we’ll do the same thing. You know they have Steve Smith and they have other good players. Losing the runner while it’s a tough injury, we are not going to say ‘ok, because of that we can focus over here’. I think you would be making a mistake if you did that.”

(How did you review your potential opponents during the bye week?) I passed this consensus thing around with all the coaches and said pick who we’re going to play, and I wanted to see who they wanted to play and all these things. They all filled them out and I added them all up. I separated the staff, I had two game plans up on the board and we did some preliminary work on those teams. One of the reasons we had just played Washington and Tampa, we didn’t know, so we took that, in fact I was thinking last night and when we played Washington we came in and erased everything and the boards were just full of stuff. We erased everything and got to work on Washington. Last night I woke up in bed and I said ‘I wonder if we wrote down or someone copied what we wrote on the board’. I came in and Gary Reynolds, bless his heart, said ‘Coach, I do that all the time’ so I said thank you. So we did get a little bit of a start on Carolina so our film study it was good and I’m glad I did that.”

(On Hasselbeck’s ability to change plays at the line of scrimmage and how it’s developed…) “I still have my moments with him. It appears as though he has never had the ability to audible before and that is not the case. We went in in years past and we have an audible system and he always has had the ability to do that. I’ve always said ‘If you change my play to your play, your play has got to work other wise it will hurt my feelings’. He has to approach it that way. In a big audible game for us, it would be six in the course of a game. If he’s having to do it much more than that then I don’t think we’re doing a good job of setting it up or calling the game, so having said that you have to do more. The difference this year I think is that we have put together a package and he now has the ability to audible to some runs. Not that he couldn’t do it before, but we spent more time as a coaching staff putting that together and I think that has helped, I know it has helped.

"The play to Mack Strong was an audible. He just didn’t pull that out of the air - he got a look, bang, here’s the audible. The guys handled it well, the line blocked it right. That is a difference from what we’ve done in the past. He still could audible to passes and still change some protections, he’s always had that ability to do that, but I think because of our offensive line’s experience and because of our running game, we have added another dimension to that which has been good. He’s handling it well.”

(On players saying “talking trash” during the week before games and if he says anything to them about that …) “I have already done that and I do that each week even during the season. One I think it’s foolish to say anything about your opponent unless it’s something good. If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything. There are coaches that concoct bulletin board material if you don’t say anything. So if you’re going to say stuff. The players are human too and they are going to be fired up for the game so why do you need to give them any extra ammunition? Really, when you get to this point of the season, we know Carolina is good, and hopefully they think we’re pretty good. It’s the Championship game for Pete’s sake. No one gets there by just walking in the back door usually. I talked to them about it today and like I’ve done. Its kind of what I do on Monday’s during the season.”

(On Lofa Tatupu…) “He’s not telling me to introduce the special teams anymore if that’s what you mean. He’s just an amazing young man and I’m very, very happy he’s on our football team and he’s just going to get nothing but better. He’s mature beyond his years and he has been the real glue on our defense I think. The amazing part about it is he’s a rookie. Can he do anymore than he’s done? I don’t think so. I don’t think we can ask him to do anymore. I’ve taken him off of most of the special teams otherwise he’d run down on kickoffs. He made a play Saturday in the deep middle of the field running down there with somebody. He made me a little nervous to see our middle linebacker 40 yards down the field covering a wide receiver. So I politely buzzed John (Marshall) and I said ‘John, is that what you wanted?’ He’s a great kid and we are lucky to have him, lucky to have him.”

(On the experience Jake Delhomme has in the playoffs and if it gives him experience over Hasselbeck…) “Matt has been in playoff games now and we’ve been in the playoffs three years in a row and we finally won a game. I think the load on his shoulders last Saturday, I don’t know if it will ever get any more of that if you ask for a player to perform. I think it’s to our advantage that we’re playing at home, I think that will help. Matt is a pretty mature guy. What they’ve done, gone on the road and won, you know he’s a tough guy. He’s a good football player. I think both John Fox and Mike Holmgren are happy with their quarterbacks right now.”

(On how happy he was with Seattle's pass rush against Washington …) “I thought our defensive line had a good game. Against the Packers they weren’t very good at all and I mentioned that to them and I kind of challenged them a little bit. I thought against an offensive line that was big and strong, I thought both Grant (Wistrom) and Bryce (Fisher) kind of set the tone from the outside and allowed those inside guys to work just a little bit. They had good games.”

(On this weekend’s game…) “(Carolina has) a similar type of situation, they have a big, physical offensive line and they are talented. They are talented up front so it will be a big challenge for our guys. Most teams that we play I think look at us and we’re a little bit undersized up front so we have to do it with quickness and tenacity and some smarts. We’re just not going to out physical too many people in that area, but we have great effort and it makes the difference.”

(On Sean Locklear’s status…) “I have to wait for details on that. I’m aware of the situation but I don’t know the details yet. Right now I have no comment other than to just say that as soon as we get some definitive answers, we’ll release something.”

(On if he’s worried about the Locklear situation being a distraction…) “Not really. From what I know about it so far and again I don’t know everything, it should not be.”


QUARTERBACK MATT HASSELBECK

(What does the divisional playoff win do to the confidence of the team?) “It wasn’t a get-over-the-hump game to us. It was a one-game season, lose and go home to us. I think it was exactly the kind of game that we thought it was going to be. It was going to be a tough game, a physical game. It was going to be a little bit frustrating at times on offense because of how good they were defensively. To stick it out in the end and come away with a win was a great feeling.”

(Could you talk about your relationship with Jake Delhomme?) “There is always a bond between those quarterbacks that went way late in the draft. The day-two guys just kind of stick together. I think our mutual friend would be (new Packers head coach) Mike McCarthy. Mike McCarthy was the quarterbacks coach of mine in Green Bay. Then he went to New Orleans and was his (Delhomme) quarterbacks coach. The first time we saw each other was probably the quarterbacks challenge or something like that. I think he is a great quarterback. I think he has had a great year and he is a funny guy. He is hilarious. His wife is very sweet. He is a guy you definitely root for. I am happy that he has had success.”

(On being a late-round pick…) “I would say that is the only thing really separating myself and Trent Dilfer from being really good friends. I just can’t get over the fact that 1st round pick, pre-Madonna. Everything has been given to him from day one. He got invited to the draft.”

(How did the Panthers look to you against the Bears?) “I watched the second half. I tried to watch, my kids had other plans. I will get to see enough of the film this week. From what I know they have some incredible weapons on offense. Defensively, they are well coached. I know we always say that, but it is really true this time. They are very, very well coached. You know it, they are coached by guys that are very well respected and their talent level is above average. They have very, very good players at every position whether it is d-line, linebackers, secondary. We don’t expect anything different. You are playing in the championship game, you would expect to be playing against the best. I think these guys are the best in the NFC that we could be facing.”

(On Julius Peppers…) “You have to know the scheme that they are trying to play. Just try to attack the scheme. Obviously if you ask the guy that was going up against him all day, he is studying him all week long. For me, I am just studying the scheme and knowing the personnel and match ups, that kind of thing.”

(How much time will you put in studying the Panthers?) “I will be prepared the best I possibly can by game day, either way. It is just a matter of how much time you have to put in during the week. Some teams you have to put in a tremendous amount of time and energy and other teams, they say, ‘Hey, we are just more talented than you.’ We are going to lineup and do what we do and we are going to do it really well. Those teams you don’t have to necessarily spend the time studying their film as much as you just have to make it happen on game day.

(What defenses were Washington playing against you?) “Sometimes they just rushed three and dropped eight, which is totally contrary to what we have seen. We had seen them bring a lot of pressure and so we were prepared to handle that and when they didn’t bring the pressure it was a little bit of a surprise. When they did bring the pressure we handled it.”

(Were the Redskins celebrating after Alexander was hurt?) “There is always a certain amount of talking smack that goes on in a game. I think that everybody in the NFL - once they realized that a guy might have a real injury, it obviously ends there. It reminded me a little bit of the Dallas game a couple years ago when Darrell Jackson got his bell rung a little bit. That huddle came together. It can be a little bit of a deflating thing when one of your key guys gets hurt and goes out. It was a little deflating for us. They had the momentum. They were playing more physical than we were at the time. Our crowd just rallied, our crowd started this ‘MVP’ chant and quieted them down. It is an intimating thing, our crowd. It got us going a little bit. It doesn’t hurt that Mo Morris is one of them most popular guys on our team. So he steps in the huddle and everyone kind of gave Mo (Morris) a pep talk. ‘Hey man, this is what you have been waiting so long for, here is your shot. He did a really good job.”

(Did you feel the need to shift your game once Alexander was hurt?) “Not in terms of X’s and O’s or running the ball more or taking chances or trying to make more plays. Not at all in that way. In a sense, I felt like it was going to be more important than ever to stay focused. I have told this sotry this week when Trent Dilfer got hurt. In that pre-season game when he was a starter and hurt his knee. The stadium went quiet. I came into the huddle, I was thinking about his knee and how serious it was. I really wasn’t focused on playing football at a high level. I learned from that experience when he got hurt the second time and I had to go back in. I just felt like that at that time the most important thing for us to do as an offense was to really focus in on the 11 guys that were in the huddle. There is nothing we can do to help Shaun at that point. We just had to be focused and I did what I could to get everybody to be there.”


RUNNING BACK SHAUN ALEXANDER

(Do you feel as good as you look?) “No, I wish. I feel okay. It is one of those things where I tell everybody, thanks for praying for me after I got hit. For like 20 minutes there I didn’t know if I was me or if I was about to go back into the game or if I was playing against the Auburn Tigers but the healing went fast. I would say probably by the second quarter I felt, at least I knew what was going on. I was able to talk to Mo (Morris) and suggest to Mike plays I thought we should run. Prayer does work. I was able to talk to people and know what was going on. I thank everybody that prayed for me.”

(Were you proud of the way Maruce Morris played?) “I am proud of Mo and this whole team. I have been telling everybody for the last couple years that we were close to being a championship team and I was proud of the guys this year for always accepting challenges. This was just another challenge. You lose a player and guys just step up. You saw guys just jelling together and Darrell came back and had a great, great game. Mo made some great third-down runs. That’s what teams do.”

(Did you ask to come back in the game?) “No, they told me no. I was probably out for about 20 minutes and you don’t go back in after you’ve been out that long. They already told me it wasn’t going to happen. I don’t try to fight stuff like that. It is a little more serious than football, the fun game we’re playing. When you miss 20 minutes of your life that’s when you take it a little more seriously and just listen to what the doctor says.”

(Did you have any symptoms after the game?) “No, that’s what’s weird, I haven’t had any symptoms. I would just like to thank everyone for praying. I had no headaches, even when the game was going on. I had no blurred vision. I had no black spots. Nothing.”

(Had you ever had a concussion before?) “No, not in a game. I think I had one once a long time ago where I didn’t put air in my helmet in a scrimmage or a practice and I got hit and the bells kind of went off. I never had one that was serious like that.”

(On taking tests…) “Oh yeah. I took all the tests and realized the guy knocked some sense into me. I am actually smarter than I was before.”

(On his practice schedule this week…) “Oh, I don’t know. We are just going to take it one step at a time. The better I get the closer I’ll get to getting on the field.”

(Have you watched the play in which you were concussed?) “Oh yeah. Matt (Hasselbeck) thinks it happened to me a couple plays before when I got hit pretty good on a draw. But that last play was kind of the finisher. It was one of those plays where you’re not sure whether it was a shoulder or a knee. I just got hit in the right spot. That’s the thing about football; it is a game of inches.”

(On Washington celebrating knocking him out of the game…) “He was dancing because he probably felt like he did a good job but like I tell everybody, we have a team. We have a really good team and people are going to have to beat our team the rest of the way. We have a bunch of guys who are willing to step in and do what it takes for our team to get better and win. I was just proud. I got to watch the whole game over again today and I am just proud how everyone handled it. Of course you’re going to be shaky when one of your top guys goes down but after that they caught their breath and everybody took steps forward to win it and that’s what they did.”

(On watching the game today as opposed to Saturday on the sideline…) “A lot more at peace. Probably in about the third quarter when I felt a lot better and could say things to guys and knew what was going on in the game. You’re still hoping that someone makes the play and we get the big lead. Today was a lot more fun knowing what the outcome was going to be.”

(On what the doctors told him…) “We have to wait and see but it looks pretty good.”

(Will you change the padding in your helmet?) “I doubt it. Whenever you have a concussion it just is what it is. We play a violent sport. If everybody had better helmets they probably would have been wearing them from the beginning. That’s just the way it goes.”

(On the kind of helmet he wears…) “You know I have tried all of them and I wear the one everybody wears now with the metal face mask. I don’t wear the new one that is supposed to be better. But, where I got hit it would not have mattered what I was wearing. I got hit in the back of the neck.”

(On Mack busting the 32-yard run…) “Mack is just amazing. To have the greatest carry of his career put us in the NFC Championship in Seattle. If somehow we beat Carolina, somehow win the Super Bowl and Mack wins MVP, you couldn’t ask for anything greater to happen to that guy. He just plays with his heart every single game and it is exciting when good things happen for him.”

(What does playing in the NFC Championship mean to you?) “It is exciting. I told someone it is like a dream and we don’t want to wake up or a ride we don’t want to stop. It is just awesome to be in this situation. We play another great team with probably a better defense, better skill players. Who knows what happens.”


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