Seahawks giving Mike Holmgren a disappointing send-off
It sounded like a concession speech. Mike Holmgren, eight weeks from departure, stood before his dispirited Seahawks team and vowed to "do...
Seattle Times staff columnist
It sounded like a concession speech. Mike Holmgren, eight weeks from departure, stood before his dispirited Seahawks team and vowed to "do what I can do until the last play of the last game of the year."
Then Holmgren asked his Seahawks players and assistant coaches to do the same, to rescue whatever they can from this runaway swan season. As the coach revisited his locker-room address with the media, his facial expression was solemn, and his squinting eyes seemed like a dam for tears.
A half-season remains, but after six losses in their first eight games, the Seahawks must face an inevitable conclusion.
They're not returning to the playoffs.
Holmgren won't exit with the satisfaction of leading the Seahawks to six consecutive postseason appearances.
The grandest prize left for this team is the chance to prove it still possesses a functioning ticker.
Following a 26-7 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday, you had to wonder how much more this team could take. You saw a trampled team, a sullen coach and an injury list that won't get shorter anytime soon. You saw a team appropriately embarrassed by a performance worthy of a dunce cap. You saw players searching for answers that don't exist, expecting a metamorphosis that cannot occur until, at best, next season.
The Seahawks are so damaged, so far from what they used to be, that simply showing an ability to fight would be a legitimate feat.
"It just breaks my heart," Holmgren said. "They are trying real hard, but we are not getting rewarded for much. And you don't get points for trying hard."
Here's the depth of their dilemma: Holmgren entered this game believing his injury-racked offense had to play a perfect game to defeat the Eagles. With a 5-3 record, Philadelphia is a good team despite being in third place in the wicked NFC East. But to beat the Eagles at Qwest Field, where Seattle was nearly invulnerable just a year ago, the Seahawks needed perfection? How quickly this thing unraveled.
And Holmgren was right. The gap between the Eagles and the battered Seahawks truly was that wide. Aside from Koren Robinson's 90-yard touchdown reception on the Seahawks' first offensive play, the Eagles controlled the game. The Seahawks needed perfection and wound up getting the opposite.
This may have been their worst performance of the season. At best, it was down there with the season-opening loss at Buffalo. However, at least in that game the quarterback didn't spike the ball on third down during a two-minute drill.
That Seneca Wallace gaffe mirrored the entire day. Before a second-down draw play to running back Maurice Morris, Holmgren told Wallace, "We'll get the first down, and you spike it."
"We didn't get the first down, and he spiked it, and so that was mine," Holmgren said, accepting blame. "I'll take that one."
It was admirable for the coach — who was clearly upset while standing on the sideline after that play — to try to protect Wallace from the criticism. But Wallace must be smarter than that. After Morris gained only 2 yards on that draw, he should've known that spiking the ball on a third-and-eight play was a silly decision.
It turned out to be an inconsequential mistake, just an annoying play amid a blowout. But it says much about a formerly electric offense that we've been reduced to debating goofs.
You can't expect spectacular results from a team missing Matt Hasselbeck, Nate Burleson, Deion Branch, Lofa Tatupu and Patrick Kerney, among others. But it's not too demanding of a requirement for the Seahawks to play smart football.
"There were a couple of times when we looked sloppy," Holmgren said as he detailed dropped passes and mishaps on special teams. "That, I can't tolerate."
If the Seahawks lose because they're not good enough, Holmgren can wince and move on, but he doesn't want to go out with a flustered, undisciplined group. At 2-6 and with a daunting second-half schedule ahead, the Seahawks would be fortunate to win five games this season. If they ever got healthy enough on offense and stopped allowing big plays on defense, there's still a belief they could do better than that.
However, the reality is that the Seahawks are 2-6, with their only victories coming against train wrecks. They have yet to prove they can even compete with a legitimate, stable NFL team for four quarters. Five of their six losses have come by double digits.
Dreams of a miracle turnaround this season should defer to hope for decency.
"That's our situation, so we have to try to live with that," cornerback Marcus Trufant said.
Another Seattle sports team has left the treasure hunt prematurely. The Seahawks have no realistic shot at giving Holmgren a glorious send-off. They must settle for a prideful one, and even that will require more than they've shown so far.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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