Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Holmgren Years: A Retrospective: 2002

The season started with high expectations. New uniforms, new stadium, a new starting quarterback in Trent Dilfer. In the first preseason game against the Colts, the WCO never fired with more precision. It was 10-0 immediately. Then Dilfer was injured, and things went downhill from there.

Hasslebeck came in and started, and the Hawks got thumped by a damn good Raiders team in week 1. Dilfer came back, inexplicably, for week 2 against the Cards. The stadium was open and everyone was optimistic that things would really get going. Dilfer threw or 352 yards, but the achilles heal of the Seahawks reared its ugly head.

We didn't realize in 2001 that Eaton, Randle and Kirkland were in the absolute twilight of their career. And we weren't that concerned when Kirkland was cut for being too overweight, we had plenty of young linebackers, and Isiah Kacyvenski was a hard worker.

Come 2002, Eaton is done, he can't play anymore, but his mouth keeps yapping, which is funny because he was an utter joke. John Randle just flat out wore down. They couldn't keep the line off Kacyvenski, who was having enough trouble on his own(his gap discipline was awful). With Chad Brown plagued by injuries, the pass rush didn't exist. Rocky Bernard started fast and peetered out(A standard for him) and years of shaky mid round drafting on the defensive line left them with Antonio Cochran as a full time starter. Ken Lucas aside, the secondary was old, Springs was always hurt, Marcus Robertson and Reggie Tongue were corpses, and Doug Evans, wow, Doug Evans, I forgot about him. The run defense was the worst in the NFL, giving up over 200 yards rushing a whopping five times.

The Seahawks stumbled to a 1-5 start, Dilfer popped an achilles. Then things started to change. Hasslebeck came in and led them to an ugly win over the Cowboys, and the offense started to move, even if the points didn't come yet. Soon, Hasslebeck and the offense exploded, eclipsing 500 yards of offense three times in the second half of the season and winning their last three games. That stretch, where the offense was utterly unstoppable(including a rare road win over the playoff bound Falcons), led directly to the string of five playoff appearances in a row. They were utterly on fire, and it led directly to 2003, where the real fun would begin.

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