Seattle Seahawks have playoffs in mind
To get there, team had best not replicate first part of 2002 season
The schizophrenic Seattle Seahawks opened training camp last weekend wondering whether they should be crazy enough to think they can make the playoffs.
After all, the offense ripped through the final six games of 2002, averaging an NFL-best 476 yards per game in finishing the season
4-2. Stop the insanity!
But there also was the rest of the 2002 season. The Seahawks were 1-5 in their first six games and finished 28th out of 32 teams in defense Ñ including last against the run at 153 yards per game. Another season like that would be depressing to many, including coach Mike Holmgren, who has a record of 31-33 in four seasons, including 7-9 last year.
Holmgren, since stripped of general manager duties, understands the pressure will be on to make the playoffs in his fifth year.
'I have all the responsibility I need,' he says.
Holmgren brought in vagabond defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes, a gruff Mr. Fix-It who helped resurrect defenses at Washington and Denver in his previous two stops. Rhodes will emphasize simple defense, a go-get-'em philosophy that will be much more about motivation than X's and O's.
Seemingly always looking for answers, the Seahawks brought in six new defensive players this year, including four starters: defensive end Chike Okeafor from San Francisco (free agent), linebacker Randall Godfrey from Tennessee (free agent), defensive tackle Norman Hand from New Orleans (trade) and free safety Damien Robinson from the New York Jets (free agent).
Seattle's first two picks in the draft were cornerback Marcus
Trufant from Washington State and safety Ken Hamlin from Arkansas. Standout corner Shawn Springs has tabbed Trufant 'Baby Springs.'
Special teams will be an early concern with a new kicker (Josh Brown) and punter (Rodney Williams or Tom Rouen).
On the mend
Quarterback Trent Dilfer, after rupturing an Achilles' tendon last year, needs training camp at Cheney, Wash., to get in shape. He reported overweight, but Holmgren was sympathetic, considering Dilfer took time off in the offseason to care for his son Trevin, who died in April at age 5 of heart disease.
Linebacker Chad Brown (foot surgery) will be back in two weeks, and Lamar King (knee surgery) will be back in three weeks. Most of the other injured players will be healthy within the week.
Last year, 14 starters missed a combined 96 games.
The Big 'O'
Through the first 10 games of 2002, who would have guessed that the Seahawks would explode in their next six?
Matt Hasselbeck averaged 332 yards passing in the hot streak and completed 63.7 percent of his passes last season for 3,075 yards, 15 TDs and 10 interceptions. He enters the season as the starter, comfortable in knowing he finally proved himself and not worrying about Dilfer breathing down his neck.
Shaun Alexander rushed for 1,175 yards, added 59 catches for 460 yards and scored 18 TDs. Who can forget his five touchdowns in the first half against Minnesota? Former Oregon player Maurice Morris returns as his backup.
Koren Robinson's breakthrough year included 78 catches for 1,240 yards; Darrell Jackson, who sat out Saturday's practice after straining his back lifting boxes in his dorm, had 62 catches for 877 yards.
'It took about seven months (last year). We need to get there in three months,' Hasselbeck says of the
defense. 'We can't expect things to be like they were last year.'
Notes: As expected, the Seahawks released former first-round pick Chris McIntosh, an offensive lineman whose recurring neck troubles threaten his career. É Another offensive lineman, All-Pro and franchise player Walter Jones, has not reported. Jones turned down Seattle's contract offer. É Athletic Seneca Wallace enters camp as the fourth-string quarterback behind No. 3 Jeff Kelly. É The preseason opener is Aug. 9 against San Diego at Seahawks Stadium, and the regular-season opener is Sept. 7 against New Orleans at home. É Two big home games: Oct. 12, when former coach Dennis Erickson brings the NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers to town, and Nov. 16, when Portland's Joey Harrington and Detroit play in Seattle.