Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Holmgren Years: A Retrospective: 2008

Its always funny how whats built up to be the last hurrah is never what people expected. Everyone expected the Seahawks to make another deep playoff run. The running game would be improved, the defense would cure its home/road woes, and another division title banner would be raised.

None of that happened.

I hate using injuries as a reason for lack of success. But the real reason the Seahawks limped to a 4-12 finish was injuries. When even remotely healthy, that wasn't a 4-12 team. Were they as good as we thought they would be? No. If they had stayed healthy would they have won the division? Probably.

Its hard to win when your entire receiving corps is injured. And believe me when I say "entire", in week 2, we were bemoaning the fact that Logan Payne was injured. Logan Payne.

They brought in Billie Mcmullen, Courtney Taylor, Michael Bumpus, Keary Colbert and Koren Robinson. They all showed why they weren't on a team to begin with, dropped passes, fumbles and poorly run routes.

The defensive completed their collapse that started last season. Well, that isn't exactly fair, they were a defense built to play with the lead, when it came upon them to finish a game, they were often worn down, or in the wrong position thanks to that hapless scheme. Its not fair that they were expected to play perfectly for much of the season, but they could've played better. I've wasted too much of my time griping about John Marshall's scheme, and I have chosen not to let him haunt me anymore.

There were some silver linings. Even with a bad back Hasslebeck showed exactly how damn good he can be. When given receivers signed off the street the week before, he still put the ball right where it had to be. Often times the receivers failed to make the play, in the Niners game, that led to the Patrick Willis interception return. Hasslebeck missed most of the season, and with a lack of mobility and reps with the bum receivers, he didn't look good.

The team finally learned to run on third and short. T.J. Duckett found himself a role, pounding the ball in short yardage situations. Unfortunately, third and shorts were rare because they were contingent on the Seahawks gaining 9 yards on the first two downs.

Holmgren showed off his wizardry once again, pulling a bunch of guys off the street and somehow coaching them up to compete with the Redskins, Patriots, Dolphins and Cardinals. I can't overstate how injury riddled this offense was. By the end of the season the entire offensive line was backup or guys just signed weeks earlier.

A lot of fans will praise the play of Seneca Wallace. But playing well against teams selling out to stop the run and playing conservative defenses to not give up the big play, isn't the sign of a quality NFL starting quarterback.

The unquestionably best game of the season was Holmgren's last home game, in a snowstorm, against the Jets. The defense played by far their best game of the season. The offense did just enough to pull off an impressive win against the desperate Jets.

I suppose it was poetic justice that Holmgren's last season went like this. For years he had powerful, veteran teams that didn't require the great teacher, to actually teach. This year took him full circle, back to his first coaching gig with an overmatched team, with inexperienced players. That game against the Jets was the last magic act by the offensive wizard, outdueling his greatest pupil. With that victory, the greatest coach in Seahawks history rode off into the sunset.

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