Holmgren lighting fire under sloppy Seahawks
KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Mike Holmgren was ticked.
On the sidelines. In the locker room. On the airplane ride home.
And Seattle's coach was still upset Monday, two days after starters and reserves alike missed assignments, lost three fumbles, threw three interceptions and committed 10 penalties in a 48-13 loss at Green Bay that got more embarrassing the more the Seahawks thought about it.
It's the preseason? Monday felt like the Seahawks had just gotten steamrolled in a key December game.
"You can rationalize and justify and spin it any way you want, but we had it stuck to us pretty good," Holmgren said after barking at his players during a subdued morning practice in a downpour.
"You could make an argument that we gave them 27 points, just kind of -- here," he said, extending both hands. "I've never been in one of those before."
Tatupu is the Pro Bowl middle linebacker on a defense that is carrying over last season's problem of stopping big plays on third down. He agreed that the three-time defending NFC West champions got a wake-up call from a snoozy summer.
"I don't care if it's August, if it's preseason ...," he said, still agitated.
Strong added: "You can say, 'It's exhibition. It doesn't mean anything.' But it exposed a lot of weaknesses that we have right now. And those are things that you have to take personally."
Tatupu began challenging teammates on the sidelines Saturday in Green Bay. Whether his message got through will be better known this coming Saturday when Seattle hosts the Minnesota Vikings in the next-to-last preseason game.
"We are counting on guys to get it done. I'm not going to name names," Tatupu said. "Everyone's one or two plays away from playing.
"We expect to be excellent. Anytime you step on the field, you've got to have pride."
Holmgren turned 59 in June and is entering his 16th season as an NFL head coach. So he knows as well as anyone the relative value of a preseason game -- especially one in which quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and both starting offensive tackles didn't play.
Still, Holmgren's a perfectionist. It was his most-lopsided preseason defeat as a head coach, and the Seahawks' worst exhibition loss since Denver beat them 52-7 in 1976, in their first month of existence.
"I hate it. Big, huge internal conflict. That's why I have heart palpitations," Holmgren said. "It's hard sometimes, yes it is. Sometimes I don't control it very well. I think I did an OK job the other night.
"Fortunately, it doesn't count -- that's the little speech I give to myself."
Setting an early curfew is no longer an option as Holmgren seeks to ratchet up training camp intensity. His players have moved out of their dorm rooms and are going home to luxury each night. Students at Northwest University, which borders team headquarters, are returning from summer break and need their rooms back.
"The biggest thing is that they are out of the dorms," Holmgren said with a sigh.
"This seems like not a big thing; I think it's a big thing. They are going home, but it's still training camp. We still have two sessions a day. And they've got to get their minds right on that and still approach it the way they approach it -- which I think they did (Monday).
"I told them it was going to be quite a week this week."
Backup quarterback Seneca Wallace started because Holmgren didn't want to expose Hasselbeck to defenders who could target his surgically repaired non-throwing shoulder without starting tackles Walter Jones (sore shoulder) and Sean Locklear (sore knee) to block them. Instead, the Packers battered Wallace. He finished 6-for-15 passing and was sacked four times while playing into the second quarter.
"Seneca, I think he's a brave guy, and a very tough guy, because he got hit like no one should get hit in that game, and he bounced right back up," Holmgren said. "Goodness gracious, the walls collapsed on him a couple times."
Locklear returned to practice after sitting out last week. Jones, whom Holmgren said "could play now," likely won't until the games get real Sept. 9 against Tampa Bay.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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