NFL: Mora: I wanted Holmgren back to run Seahawks
By GREGG BELL
AP Sports Writer
RENTON, Wash. — Matt Hasselbeck is the most glib Seahawk. Yet even he can’t describe his team’s sorry state after losing to a one-win team this late in a season for the first time since Seattle’s 1976 expansion year.
“I’m speechless about that,” the 34-year-old quarterback said.
Sunday’s 24-7 loss to Tampa Bay at Qwest Field, where fans resorted to wearing bags over their heads, left the Seahawks at their lowest point since Hasselbeck arrived in town in 2001.
Seattle is 5-9 and without a postseason chance for the second consecutive December after five consecutive playoff appearances. The Seahawks are 9-21 since their last playoff game in January 2008.
Hasselbeck has played with broken ribs, a sore throwing shoulder and a banged thumb because a porous, shuffled offensive line has allowed him to be pummeled. Their defensive captain, Lofa Tatupu, was lost in October to a torn pectoral muscle. Six-time All-Pro left tackle Walter Jones never did play this season following two knee surgeries. He may never play again.
Rookie outside linebacker Aaron Curry is doubtful for Sunday’s game at Green Bay with a shoulder stinger that is weakening his arm. And receiver Nate Burleson is likely to be out again this week with a high ankle sprain sustained two games ago.
Plus, they are currently ailing, and absent, at the top. Owner Paul Allen, who was on the field before Sunday’s debacle, has been undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma. His team is without a general manager or a president since Tim Ruskell was forced to resign on Dec. 3.
Hasselbeck committed five turnovers on Sunday, throwing four interceptions for only the second time in his career in Seattle’s ninth home loss in 15 months. The Seahawks had nine home losses combined from Dec. 2002 through the 2007 season.
“For me, losing at home, I’m just angry a little bit about how (Sunday) went, and how everything is going,” Hasselbeck said.
Some see this as the franchise’s lowest point since former owner Ken Behring had equipment hauled out of team headquarters in Kirkland, Wash., in 1996. He was shipping the gear, and the Seahawks, to Southern California — until the NFL interceded. Allen bought the team and the Seahawks stayed.
Already-glum fans were dejected by Holmgren declining his former team’s offer to return as an executive. It would have been a lesser role than the one Seattle’s winningest coach and former GM agreed to with Monday with the Cleveland Browns — that of team president.
Seattle offered Holmgren a job as director of football operations — even that title wasn’t settled — but he jumped at a chance to have what he called unique power in Cleveland.
Coach Jim Mora was among the many in Seattle who wanted Holmgren to come back and save the Seahawks instead.
“I was an advocate of him coming back, to the point that I made my feelings known to the people that make those decisions,” said Mora, who was Holmgren’s assistant head coach and defensive backs coach in 2007 and ’08. “I’m probably as disappointed as anybody that he’s decided to reject our offer and go on with it. I don’t know all the particulars. I just know that I absolutely have great regard for Mike Holmgren.”
So now what?
The Seahawks’ preseason belief that an inordinate amount of injuries doomed 2008 and meant a roster overhaul wasn’t needed for ’09 has been proven false. This awful encore has had more poor performances than injuries — and given how banged up Seattle’s been, that’s saying something.
Yet Mora is waiting until the season ends to fully assess how he might fix this mess.
The coach now calls all the injuries “just noise.”
“What we have to do is take these next two weeks and really focus on working hard, sticking together as a team,” Mora said, stating a goal as low as Seattle’s had all decade. “Then after the season’s over, step back and really take a good, hard look at it and see where we are, and exactly what we need to do to get better.
“But right now, we’re in the thick of it.”