There was more drama before and after the Seahawks’ embarrassing loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday than there was during the game, with the team and Mike Holmgren engaging in a they-said-he-said tete-a-tete and with coach Jim Mora almost publicly lobbying to keep his job.
The team told Steve Kelley of The Seattle Times that it offered Holmgren total control of the team as president at a price of $3 million per year. Holmgren then told Kelley both of those statements were false and that he turned down the offer because he was not going to have the kind of control he coveted— that is, the power to hire the general manager and decide on the coach. Too many other people would have a say in the GM, and CEO Tod Leiweke apparently told Holmgren that Mora was off limits for 2010.
So while Leiweke described their talks Friday as “respectful” and Holmgren said they “conclude these discussions as friends,” it’s quite obvious they disagreed on more than one aspect of the talks. And that’s why Holmgren will not be coming back to Seattle.
Meanwhile, someone probably needs to tell Mora that he will be coming back, because after one of the Seahawks’ most pitifully embarrassing losses in their entire history, the coach sure seemed like he was making a case to keep his job.
Mora stressed that the Seahawks were a four-win team last year and are trying to rebuild a “broken” team with new offensive and defensive systems.
“It’s not easy,” he said.
But it sure shouldn’t be as hard as the Seahawks are making it.
They were a four-win team in 2008 because they were missing nearly their entire starting offense for much of the season. They really were a nine-win team that had five wins stolen by injuries.
This team should have been a nine-win team, too, but injuries cost them a game in San Francisco and very poor offensive play cost them home games against Chicago and Tampa. The offense actually has gotten worse as the season has progressed. The line has been the big culprit, but the receivers have joined the club recently, with Deion Branch capping off his horrible four-year run with the team by helping Matt Hasselbeck throw three interceptions Sunday (Hasselbeck’s fourth came on a busted screen play).
Mora might be coming back, but perhaps offensive coordinator Greg Knapp shouldn’t be.
Knapp has been very inconsistent— sometimes dialing up creative plays, but largely failing to help protect Hasselbeck. He should have changed his line configuration a month ago. He should have used more misdirection plays. He should have found ways to use tight end John Carlson to help Hasselbeck. He should have been playing rookie Deon Butler over Branch.
The zone blocking scheme has been a total bust, resulting in the two worst single-game rushing performances in franchise history. It’s time to scrap that horrible experiment and go back to the power-man scheme the Hawks previously used.
A coach’s job is to make the sum of the parts better than they are individually, and Knapp certainly has not done that. His offense looks worse now than it did at the start of the season. In fact, the last time this offense looked good was Oct. 11 in a 41-0 home win against Jacksonville.
How about bringing back Gil Haskell, who was Holmgren’s coordinator and is a man Hasselbeck is very comfortable with?
A new offensive coordinator is just one of the things this team needs if it is going to avoid taking a plunge into an on-field depression akin to the one the Seahawks suffered through in the early 1990s, when they won just 14 games in three seasons under Tom Flores.
This team isn’t as bad as Flores' 2-14 team from 1992, but it is every bit as bad as his 6-10 clubs that followed. With nine wins over the past two seasons, the Seahawks are in as deep a hole as they have been in since Ken Behring ran the franchise into the ground a decade and a half ago.
Holmgren is not going to come to the rescue, if he even could. But the Hawks will find a new GM to rebuild the parts of the team that need it, and then it will be up to Mora to prove he is not as bad a coach as many fans think he is.