Staying in line with new attitude
Four new position coaches have joined the Seahawks' offensive staff this season, but each brings a wealth of previous experience — and attitude — to the team.
Seattle Times staff reporter
KIRKLAND — A message to NFL Films: Mic up this pair of Mikes, and you've got yourself an in-the-trenches, in-your-face look at the guys up front who do so much of the grunt work.
Mike Solari and Mike DeBord are a couple of grizzled offensive-line coaches whose paths have led them to the Seahawks, where Solari is the new offensive-line coach and DeBord his assistant.
On the surface, it's a perfect pairing. Solari and DeBord are two vocal, emotional, ever-encouraging and posterior-slapping football men who have arrived, along with two other new position coaches, to help refine the Seahawks offense.
"Any offensive lineman likes to be aggressive in their play and their attitude and everything else. That's the way coach Solari coaches, that's the way that I coach," DeBord said. "Linemen respond to that. It's the way the game's played up front, and I feel like you have to coach that way."
At training-camp practices, Solari and DeBord are master motivators, urging on their players.
"You know what I like there? You took the inside," DeBord told right tackle Sean Locklear after a play last week, giving him a backside pat.
"ATTITUDE!!!" Solari shouted one day. "Tempo! Let's go!"
The offensive-line coaches' styles are similar, honed from a combined 58 years of experience. Solari has been coaching for 32 years, including the past 11 years with the Kansas City Chiefs. DeBord has 26 years of college experience, most recently at Michigan, where he was offensive coordinator the past two seasons.
"I didn't know coach Solari before I came here, and we've really gotten along great and [are] working well together," DeBord said. "I think we're very similar in the way we do coach and I think the players probably appreciate that because you're not getting one guy that's completely different than the other."
Added Solari, who was the Chiefs' offensive coordinator the past two seasons: "It's just natural. It's kind of a person-coach that coach Holmgren looks for. It's a good teacher."
Holmgren called his offensive-line coaches "great communicators." The hope is that the two will lead the turnaround of an inconsistent line, and make the running game a major factor again.
They are joined on the staff by two other new coaches. Running-backs coach Kasey Dunn, a Poulsbo native, has 15 years of college experience, including five at Washington State (1998-2002). Quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor has 14 years of coaching experience, five of those in the NFL. He was the Washington Redskins' quarterbacks coach the past two years.
Dunn is charged with getting production out of the Seahawks' revamped backfield, and Lazor replaces Seahawks legend Jim Zorn, now coach of the Redskins.
"With the new guys, I'm not as hard on them as I am on my old coaches. I'm trying to get off on the right foot," Holmgren said. "What I told Solari is, 'You're going to have to learn all our stuff, and we're going to run our stuff, but then if you see something or absolutely think something is better, then we're going to do that, too.' "
Dunn spent time in training camp with the Seahawks in 2003 as part of the NFL's Minority Coaching Fellowship Program. This is the former North Kitsap High School player's first NFL season as a coach.
He had season tickets to the Seahawks in his younger days, and once, as a receiver at Idaho, wrote a letter to Seattle Hall of Famer Steve Largent asking for advice.
"He said, 'Hey, you just run all your routes at the same speed. Don't take anything off your routes out of your breaks,' " Dunn said. "The point being that he sent me a letter back and responded right away and when I was playing in college, I thought that was the best. I got it back within a week and a half. I was impressed by that."
Lazor got glowing recommendations from former NFL coaches Dan Reeves and Joe Gibbs. Knowing Holmgren's penchant for working with quarterbacks, Lazor is under the microscope.
"The quarterback coach for me, you have to have an iron jock, you know what I mean?" Holmgren said. "It's a tough job." Lazor is all in, as he put it.
"You have to spend a lot of time because there's so many details that go into getting it right for an NFL offense," Lazor said. "And you have to make sure before you're with the players and before you present anything to them, you're all together, you have all the details and you're ready to go."
For now, all new and old hands appear to be on deck.
"The new fellows we have as coaches on the staff, I couldn't be happier," Holmgren said. "They are really good guys, quality people, and excellent football coaches. I mean excellent football coaches."
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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