Maybe it was hubris.
Everything was perfect. Praised as a genius, he would become the great football mentor the city never had. He would build a winner in a place that had made a tradition of losing. With absolute power, he could manage every detail. The glory won would be his and his alone. The prized trophy, a veritable Helen of sports baubles, would be paraded through the streets, and his apotheosis would be complete.
Unfortunately for Mike Holmgren, it hasn’t happened that way. After taking over the Seattle Seahawks in search of more power in 1999, Holmgren purged the roster of Dennis Erickson’s players and assured the city that the team would become a powerhouse. Somewhere along the way from Green Bay to Seattle, however, he lost his Midas touch. The man who resurrected the Packers, won the Super Bowl, and made Brett Favre into a three-time MVP, has struggled in Seattle.
After making the playoffs in his first season with a team largely made up of soon-to-be-cut Erickson players, Holmgren’s Hawks have limped aimlessly through two mediocre seasons. Last year he anointed Matt Hasselbeck as the team’s savior, only to see the former Packer back-up prove to be, well, a back-up. While Trent Dilfer provided a spark that allowed the Hawks to finish 9-7 on the season, Seattle fans clamored for improvement from their multi-million dollar coach/general manager. He promised that in 2002, things would be different.
News flash: Things aren’t any different.
As if losing to the hated Oakland Raiders in Week One wasn’t bad enough, the Seahawks lost to the Cardinals last weekend. If there’s any team with a history of losing that can match Seattle’s, it’s Arizona. If there is ONE team that the Seahawks should beat, it’s Arizona. When you lose to Arizona, you’re going to get booed. And the boos will only get louder for Holmgren.
This week, while the Seattle defense played well, holding the Giants to just 9 points, the offense managed only six. Six points? Even Marty Schottenheimer’s 2001 Redskins could score more than six points! What happened to the offensive guru who trained under Bill Walsh? Where is the magic of the West Coast Offense?
Maybe it’s gone into the front office. Holmgren thought he could handle both coaching and being the team’s general manager. Other men, such as Cleveland’s Butch Davis, have proven capable of handling both roles, so I’m not going to insinuate that it isn’t possible. But Holmgren obviously can’t do it. If he could, he would have a quarterback by now. Trent Dilfer may have had a 15-game winning streak at one point, but he is not the answer.
The coach is getting desperate. While Holmgren disciples Andy Reid and Jon Gruden are coaching contenders, their sensei faces career execution. It’s not that Holmgren doesn’t know he is inching ever closer to the brink of unemployment. He has come to the humbling realization that without Brett Favre, running an offense isn’t so easy. He recognized his mistake with Hasselbeck, and made Dilfer his starter. But from a man who promised so much, the results have been extremely disappointing. With the team off to an 0-3 start, Seattle fans are already calling for his head. With just 13 more games to play, the playoffs he promised are looking less and less attainable. The success that once came naturally to one of the NFL’s greatest coaching prodigies now is lost to him. The more Holmgren desires to return to the top of the mountain, the further down the boulder pushes him.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Week 3 Highlights
New England 41, Kansas City 38 — After looking all but invincible in the first two weeks of the seasons, some cracks started to show in the Patriots’ armor against the Chiefs. After holding Jerome Bettis and Curtis Martin to almost nothing, Priest Holmes ran all over New England’s D to the tune of 180 yards and two touchdowns. K.C. rallied from 14 points down in the fourth to force overtime, but fate intervened as New England won the OT coin toss and thus the game. I hate to agree with Jim Nantz on anything, but it’s time the NFL reformed the rules for the extra period.
Miami 30, NY Jets 3 — Eight game losing streak? What eight game losing streak? The Dolphins kept their September dominance going by earning their first win against the Jets in five years. Ricky Williams not only looked good, he looked fast, scampering for a 53-yard score, the longest of his career. Meanwhile, Vinny Testaverde is making a stronger and stronger case for the promotion of Chad Pennington with every start.
Green Bay 37, Detroit 31 — Joey Harrington tried the flying V late in the game, but Detroit fans weren’t quacking.
Philadelphia 44, Dallas 13 — Philly takes no mercy on the hapless ‘Boys.
San Francisco 20, Washington 10 — The latest Skins fan rallying cry: “Fire Marvin Lewis tomorrow!”
Cleveland 31, Tennessee 28 — Browns fans calling for Holcomb should get off the couch.
New Orleans 29, Chicago 23 — Bears out of late game heroics, ain’t they?
Carolina 21, Minnesota 14 — Rodney Peete: the next Trent Dilfer?
Denver 28, Buffalo 23 — Broncos’ offensive wheels are nice ‘n’ Griese.
Indianapolis 23, Houston 3 — Hey Texan fans, at least you beat the Cowboys.
San Diego 23, Arizona 15 — For Schottenheimer, winning in San Diego is a Brees.
Monday Night Preview
St. Louis at Tampa Bay — Tampa seems to have had St. Louis’ number the last few times these teams met, but with the Rams in danger of losing their title as the “Greatest Show on Turf” after an 0-2 start, St. Louis head coach Mike Martz is getting desperate. Rams to win it, if not by much.
St. Louis 27, Tampa Bay 17.