Holmgren: "That's a Wrap!"

With the hype past full bore and the gameplans coming together, the Seahawks and Steelers will begin to round into Lockdown Mode. Seattle coach Mike Holmgren completed his official Super Bowl media obligations with a very informative press conference on Friday morning.

Q. Could you give me detail on how you traded for Matt (Hasselbeck) and what went down exactly and how were you able to out-maneuver the Dolphins to get him?

COACH MIKE HOLMGREN: I think it was in year three. We knew we were going to try and acquire a quarterback and we put together a list and potentially how to do that with trades or draft choices or free agency. Matt was on the list with about four other quarterbacks. We knew Matt a little bit more because I drafted him in Green Bay. We focused in on Matt and started talks with Green Bay. You leave a team, it's difficult to make a deal with your old team because they think you're trying to get them a little bit.

But we were able to do the deal, I did it with Mike Sherman, and Ron Wolf was still with the Packers. And I think it was a fair deal. And any quarterback playing behind Brett there over the years was eventually going to leave, probably. We knew that with Mark Brunnell, Ty Detmer, Aaron Brooks later on. And so the timing was right. Obviously I'm very happy we did that. Matt's really blossomed and become a great player.


Q. Obviously you've held that trophy (Lombardi Trophy) before, but often times during this press conference coaches will avoid touching that trophy two days before the game. Do you have any of those superstitions about touching the trophy?

COACH MIKE HOLMGREN: No. (Laughter.) I'll touch it any chance I get and hope to be able to touch it again. It is a beautiful trophy. It represents a whole bunch of stuff for people in our business and I've had the privilege of holding it before and hope to do it again.


Q. The afternoon, the evening, and the night before the game, how much time will you spend with Matt and the other quarterbacks, generally what things will you go over, and how important is that time to get them in the comfort zone, as you say, to turn it loose and let them play?

COACH MIKE HOLMGREN: We will stay with our normal pregame schedule that we have with the regular season and that includes a morning, light practice and polish practice on Saturday morning. And then, honestly, after practice, between practice and our meetings that start at 7:30 Saturday night, the players have free time and I'm not with them and the coaches aren't.

We do start meetings at 7:30 and wind up with a team snack at 9:00. And we'll stick with that. That will be probably one of the last times I talk to Matt specifically about the game plan, and that's at our 8:30 meeting.

And then Sunday, the schedule is different, because we're playing a game at 6:20 or whatever it is. They have meetings, mainly to keep them a little bit busy on Sunday morning, otherwise the day gets to be a little bit long. And I will talk to him briefly again. But really, when you get to that point, it's done. It's been my experience that players I've been around, they're kind of tired of talking to me. And I'm a little bit tired of talking to them. So the plan is let them rest, let them get ready, let them think about it without me interrupting his thoughts.


Q. The 6th seed in this game is favored over the No. 1 seed. I'm just wondering why you feel there is such a perceived gap between the NFC and AFC?

COACH MIKE HOLMGREN: That's an interesting question. And I have thought about it a little bit. I think most people on our team and in our organization thought about it, but just a little bit. I said the other day that as far as any games, odds or who's the favorite or who's the underdog, we have nothing to do with that. We just are who we are and Pittsburgh is who they are.

The only thing I can think of is that they beat Indianapolis, which is, was, a huge win for them. Indy was having a great, great year and is a great football team. And that popped up Pittsburgh, as it should. And then the other thing is, not many people know about us, to be honest. Unless you're on the West Coast or specifically in the State of Washington or in the Pacific Northwest, you'd be probably hard-pressed to name a bunch of our defensive players, people know Shaun Alexander and Hasselbeck, perhaps, Walter Jones, maybe. But I think that has something to do with it.

But Pittsburgh is a fine football team. That seeding happens because of records and my own feeling is that they're much better than the 6th seed, if you want to look at it that way. I don't worry too much about the odds. I've been the favorite in this game and I've been the underdog in this game. This year we're the underdog.


Q. You've tried to keep this as routine as possible for the players, and I'm wondering if you think that has worked and how ready your guys are at this point for Sunday?

COACH MIKE HOLMGREN: Well, we'll know Sunday if it's worked. That's the ultimate test. My feeling is that they're in a pretty good place. We practiced well. That's always an indicator to me. We have had a curfew, but it hasn't been an unreasonable curfew in my opinion. I don't think the players thought that, either. So I think there's something to be said for their routine, even though this week is very, very different in many ways, the football part of it you can make it pretty close to the way you have it at home. And that was my goal.

To me, they're practicing well. They seem fairly normal and relaxed and they're thinking properly. So I hope it's been a good week. I hope we've done it correctly. We're going to see on Sunday.


Q. Generally your quarterbacks in whatever capacity you've coached them in Super Bowls have played well. How much of your script offensively in the early part of the game is designed to exploit the defensive weaknesses you expect and how much is it to make your quarterback comfortable in the beginning of the game?

COACH MIKE HOLMGREN: I think you try to do a number of those things all at the same time. Certainly the beginning of the football game there's some counter-punching going on, on both sides. You want to see how they're going to react to a motion, or formation, perhaps, or a personnel grouping or whatever, knowing that they're going to change probably during the game. But you get an idea of how they're going to do those things and at the same time get the quarterback. I've always felt if he can get a couple of completions early it loosens him up and makes him relaxed. They're all excited and our quarterbacks are no different than anybody else. So what you try to do is try to set that up in a scripting play so you can get all those things done. Sometimes you can't. And if I have to weigh it, I probably weigh it on getting the quarterback feeling good about how things are going.


Q. First of all, how would it feel to be the first coach to win two Super Bowls with two different teams? Can you empathize with what Bill Cowher was going through, thinking back what it was like for you until you won your first?

COACH MIKE HOLMGREN: It would be pretty special to win two Super Bowls with two different teams. I mentioned the other day, being in the game, first of all, having the privilege to coach in this game, is special. If you're fortunate enough to win the game, that's something else again. To be able to do it a couple of times, unbelievable. For two different teams, that's kind of a little bit of a side-bar, in my opinion. But being here and being able to get a chance to win a game is special.

There have been some very, very fine coaches, Bill is one of them, that's been in the game and has not won one. Marv Levy was an outstanding, wonderful man and coach four years in a row. So I think people sometimes lose sight of the fact that getting here and all it takes to get here, winning it is the ultimate, certainly, but I don't think you can discount those other things. And I choose not to.

In Bill's case I'm sure, you know, I don't think it lessens your accomplishments. He's done so much in this business. I have tremendous respect for him. He is a good friend. Winning a Super Bowl or two Super Bowls or whatever, I don't think that's, to me that's not the ultimate judge of what kind of a coach anyone is. We got into this business right away, early on, to teach and coach and have fun and do something you enjoy. And you shouldn't let --shouldn't ever change that. That should be the reason we do this.


Q. Coach Cowher talked about this earlier this morning, about how you were able to dictate tempo on the offense without using the no huddle. How important is it to be able to take your strength and do it well and be able to go through this game with the strong part of your team and play well in that phase of your game?


COACH MIKE HOLMGREN: I think it's important. And probably not for the same reasons that everyone else does. I think our tempo, we talk about tempo, and really it's not so much to create something for the defense, in my opinion. It's to create something for our team. I think we are more effective and they tune in better and they go at things harder, in my opinion, if our tempo is good. And by that I mean get them in and out of the huddle, let me get the play in properly. They can't do anything until I give them the play. My job is to be thinking ahead and do that efficiently. Nolan Cromwell does our substitution, get the people in, getthem in the game. I'm talking to everybody when I say, ‘tempo it up, let's get going’. Really I'm talking to our team. And we've never done it specifically to goof up the defense or anything like that. It's just been my experience that we are more efficient when we do it that way.

And what you said about playing to your strengths, I think that's very true. And that's something that the players believe helps us, and that's the first big step, if they believe.


Q. Have you found that your practices this week have been more crisp than usual, and also what was your reaction to Joey Porter's comments about Jerramy Stevens and your team?

COACH MIKE HOLMGREN: We've had good practices this week. I think yesterday the guys were very tuned in and we had a very good, crisp practice. We had practice weeks during the week where I would be a little more upset than I was yesterday. So I felt pretty good about how we did. And I think the practice week has been fine that way.

I commented on Joey yesterday. Joey Porter is a great football player, he is. And he motivates himself a certain way, just like all our players motivate themselves. They figure out a way to do that. To me it was much to do about nothing. When the game starts, whether it's the coach's pep talk or anybody else, it's been my experience that all that kind of stuff is kind of forgotten as soon as all of a sudden you have to bang into somebody. So we have tremendous respect for what he's done and what his team has done this year.


Q. The Steelers are perceived as a run team coming into the postseason. But in the postseason wins they have really gotten off with the pass early. How does that change your game plan defensively? Can you be as aggressive early because now they have more of a balance right off the start?


COACH MIKE HOLMGREN: I think anytime you can achieve some balance on offense it creates problems for the defense. As soon as you become one-dimensional, or pretty much one-dimensional, then the defense, any defense, all defenses in the league, they can focus in on you and get you stopped, in my opinion.

So how they start the game -- I think teams are who they are, though. And I think we want to play the game a certain way, the Steelers would like to play the game a certain way. Now, how they get there, it might be passing the ball early or -- however it is. You could say the same thing about us. That's the chess game that you play every Sunday. And at the end of the day, at the end of the day we all are -- would like to have certain numbers, not yardage gain, but certain throws, number of throws by the quarterback, certain number of touches by the backs, and that formula that's been established over a year or two or three or whatever it is, if you can keep within those numbers, usually you win the football game.

When those numbers get too lopsided, usually you're playing catch-up, and you're playing the game really not the way you want to play the game. And then usually bad things happen. So whether they start throwing or start running or we start throwing or start running, I would be more concerned at the end of the game, what are those numbers?


Q. As a Christian, as a man of God, what is your motivation towards winning this game?


COACH MIKE HOLMGREN: You know, it's a difficult --people look at that as a contradiction at times. In this business, because it is sometimes violent and very rough at times, people think that you can't have -- be a devout Christian and have that part of your life going and coach or play, I don't think that's -- that couldn't be further from the truth.

I don't think you can ever separate one from the other, because it's who you are, it's who I am. If you separate your work from your off-thefield or your private life, I don't think it ever works quite that way. So I know this, my faith helps me in the tough times in this business, it always has. Frankly, I don't know how coaches kind of can get through it sometimes without that. It's important to me. And while we don't talk about it a whole lot, it's part of who we are.


Q. As you know, this season the Cardinals and the 49ers played in Mexico City. I'd like to know if you would like to play some day in Mexico with your team?

COACH MIKE HOLMGREN: I know the League is very excited about the possibility of expanding where teams play. And I know the game in Mexico City was a success. Of course all the people were there.

The one thing that always concerns a coach, I think, is getting out of your routine just a little bit. And I talked to both Mike Nolan and Denny Green about that trip and they said it went well. And because it's -- I want to say it's pretty close, if it's not the same time zone, you don't have those problems to deal with. But I know the League is excited about it and it will continue to happen, I'm sure.

Would the Seahawks be willing to do something like that? I leave those decisions to my bosses. I know this, that when you're talking about whose home game it is and all that, there are financial ramifications, all sort of stuff they're looking at. But as far as playing a game, it would be another road game for both teams. But my understanding is that both those teams that went had a great experience.


Q. Can you talk about Lofa Tatupu and how he's been able to excel as a rookie at such a demanding position?

COACH MIKE HOLMGREN: It's hard to explain on the surface, because it's a very unusual set of circumstances. Not many rookies come into the League and get a chance to play as much as Lofa, for starters. And then to be the leader he has become this season is a very unusual set of circumstances, but I think that's just that he's an unusual young guy. He's a special young man who is a great guy, great person, and a very, very good football player with the intangibles that you don't know about, they're hard to measure when you draft somebody. We knew he was a good football player, but the other stuff he brings to the table is special. And of course he's made a huge, huge difference this year on our team.


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