The Jim Mora era dawns in Seattle with a nasty defense
Coach Jim Mora's defense was impressive, but don't expect him to gloat.
Seattle Times staff columnist
Jim Mora, the native (coaching) son, walked off the field with the emotion of an instant-replay monitor being rolled into storage.
He barely smiled. He took quick, precise steps. He seemed almost numb. The first game of his homecoming had ended like a dream, with an emphatic 28-0 victory over the Team That Can't Count, but the man who composed this delightful outcome declined to celebrate, at least publicly.
Therefore, we can only conclude that either Jim Mora is the coolest dude since Shaft, or the Seahawks have entered the It's Not About Mora era.
"Those games, they're a gut-grinder," the coach said after his first Seahawks victory. "You expend a lot of emotional energy. It was especially emotional for me because there is some significance to it; I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that there was. I have thought about this day for a long, long time. It was kind of a surreal experience for me. It was great. It was perfect."
Oh, yeah? What did it mean to you?
"I'm pretty good at keeping things in perspective," Mora said.
Then he deflected the attention, praised his players, praised the fans and rambled for a few more seconds about preparing for the next game before concluding by trying to make a convincing argument that he's excited.
"I'm happy," Mora insisted, speaking in a subdued tone. "I'm happy."
Mora has acted quite presidential since taking over for Mike Holmgren. His words are always measured, his emotions always in check. It seems he wants to bury any perceptions about being too fiery that developed during his time as the Atlanta Falcons coach. Or maybe observing Holmgren's grandfatherly public relations had a profound effect on Mora.
Of greater significance, however, is the influence Mora has had on the Seahawks. He has skillfully integrated his football philosophies into their minds, and they're buying in, too.
Mora didn't have to show his personality in his debut. It was easily detectable in the way his players performed.
The Seahawks played with an edge, with nastiness. They played with charisma. They attacked the game, even when things weren't going their way. Their defense frustrated the Rams all afternoon. And when the offense found rhythm after three turnovers in the game's first 12 minutes, a rickety game turned into a rout.
Of course, it helped that the St. Louis Rams, aka the Team That Can't Count, suffered a 14-point swing after having a touchdown off a blocked field goal overturned because they had 12 players on the field.
The Seahawks will have to play crisper games in the future. But after an injury-filled 4-12 season a year ago, this isn't the time to nitpick W's.
"It's just one win," safety Deon Grant said. "That's the way you're supposed to play. That's what
you're supposed to do at home. But it's a new team and everything. We're trying to be a new D, too."
The new D allowed only 247 total yards despite losing linebackers Leroy Hill and Lofa Tatupu to minor injuries. The Rams reached the red zone just twice, and they came away with nothing. The Rams missed a 37-yard field goal the first time, which greatly pleased a Josh Brown-taunting crowd, and late in the game, the Seahawks stopped them on fourth down to prevent a garbage-time score.
The Seahawks aren't ready to hang with the elite defenses just yet, but this is a dramatic step in that direction. It's also an indicator that Mora, a defensive mastermind, will eventually make that unit fearsome. If they can bring this intensity to every game, they won't be underachievers this season.
"It's like they're almost possessed, so to speak," wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said of the new D.
The coach can be mellow when rookie linebacker Aaron Curry is hitting every opposing player he sees, when Grant is flying around and dancing after every play and when defensive end Lawrence Jackson is showcasing the talent that made him a first-round pick. Yet all those possessed defensive players displayed the proper discipline.
The new era, the It's Not About Mora era, has momentum. Just don't expect the coach to gloat.
"He's a big-picture guy," said Seahawk Patrick Kerney, who also played for Mora in Atlanta. "As excited as he is, he's not going to act like this was the Super Bowl."
Here's hoping Mora rejoiced a little in private, though. He deserves it.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or email@example.com, Twitter: @Jerry_Brewer
|Mora in openers|
|New Seahawks coach Jim Mora remains unbeaten in season openers. He won three openers when he was the head coach for Atlanta.|
|Sept. 12, 2004||at San Francisco||W, 21-19|
|Sept. 12, 2005||vs. Philadelphia||W, 14-10|
|Sept. 10, 2006||at Carolina||W, 20-6|
|Sept. 13, 2009||vs. St. Louis||W, 28-0|
|Hasselbeck settles down|
|Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck got off to a rocky start in the first quarter, throwing two interceptions while completing just more than half his passes. But he settled down in the final three quarters, throwing for three TDs and 213 yards.|
|Last three quarters||27||20||.741||213||3||38||0|
About Jerry Brewer
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.