Seahawks avoiding youth movement to finish season
The Seahawks, as long as Mike Holmgren is at the helm, won't be giving extended playing time to younger players who need seasoning over the rest of the season in hopes of winning games with what veterans they have.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Washington @ Seahawks, 1:15 p.m., Ch. 13
The youth movement won't be taking place under Mike Holmgren's watch. Not over his final six games, starting today at Qwest Field against Washington. Even though the Seahawks have little more to play for than pride.
"We're trying to finish up here strong and win some down the stretch," Holmgren said. "To do that, you play with the guys who should be playing. If there's an injury or something, you can go with a younger guy and take a look, but really once you start doing that you are really planning for next year. And I don't think that's real fair to the guys who are still going real hard this year."
So the Seahawks will keep sending out their veterans — those who are healthy enough to play — to try to win games. Holmgren sought to clarify his comments from earlier in the week when asked about lineup changes.
"People are going to have to look hard at this and be real honest about it, like I asked the players to be when they looked at the film, and say, 'Do we have enough? Is it good enough? If it is, let's go. If it isn't, you make changes," Holmgren said. "I think anytime that you have a season like we're having, down the stretch, there are some ramifications that will be the result of how you play now, for next year. I think that's a consideration."
But that's next season. Holmgren won't be around and the Seahawks have already been getting long looks at their younger players, mainly because of all the injuries to the veterans.
"Our roster right now, because of the injury situation, there's not a lot of wiggle room and things to try," Holmgren said. "It's not like all of a sudden we have this diamond in the rough that we thought needed a little more seasoning, but now let's stick him in there. That diamond has played, probably, at some point."
Who have been diamonds for the Seahawks? No one really. Rookie tight end John Carlson has shown promise — he's the Seahawks leading receiver with 30 catches for 337 yards — but has also made a couple of costly drops in games.
"He was thrown into the frying pan and has played a lot of football as a starting tight end, which I said I was going to do at the beginning of the year," Holmgren said. "I think he's had way more good days than bad days. I couldn't be more pleased with John Carlson and what he's done, and he has a bright future in the league."
Defensive end Lawrence Jackson opened the season as the starter at right defensive end, then lost his job to Darryl Tapp. Now Jackson, the team's rookie first-round draft pick, is back as the starter with Patrick Kerney out for the season and getting an NFL education in the trenches. He hasn't had a sack since Week 2.
"Lawrence's season has been a little more bumpy, and I think part of the reason for that is we moved him," Holmgren said. "You know, he's played defensive end, he's also gone inside and played defensive tackle, and Lawrence isn't a big guy. I mean, he's a big man, but he's not big by NFL standards, and he is learning."
Josh Wilson has gained major experience as a second-year starting cornerback and return man, but he has given up big plays. So has third-year pro Kelly Jennings, who lost his starting cornerback job to Wilson. Rookie defensive tackle Red Bryant has dealt with injury problems for much of the season. Justin Forsett, a rookie, looks to have a future as a punt returner, but is getting his chance because Nate Burleson is out for the season.
The Seahawks have found a gem in second-year defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, who has started every game this season.
"There's some positions that players are very, very close in ability," Holmgren said. "An older player and a younger player. Then you might say, 'OK, we'll rotate or we might do something there. But if the ability level or the experience level really dictates this [veteran] guy should be playing, he's going to be playing."
So quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, wide receiver Deion Branch, left tackle Walter Jones, wide receiver Koren Robinson and probably a few other hobbled players will keep taking the field in search of a win. And maybe a few more before the 2008 season comes to a close.
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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