Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My top 5 favorite Mike Holmgren memories in Seattle

By Kshell

This week the Seattle Seahawks(2-3) travel to the Cleveland Browns(2-3) in an important game for both teams. This will also be the first time the Seahawks face off against Mike Holmgren who is now the president of the Browns. Holmgren won't have much of an impact on the game itself although the Browns are experiencing his impact already and will in a few years. In this following post I'm going to talk about my five favorite Holmgren moments in Seattle. While in Seattle Holmgren coached for 10 seasons, leading the Seahawks to seven winning seasons, six playoff appearances(hadn't made the playoffs for 11 years prior to his arrival), five division titles and one NFC championship. Holmgren is the franchises all-time winniniest coach and in playoff victories as well. Holmgren's stamp on the Seahawks franchise when he was coach for 10 years and also general manager for four years was the greatest run in the Seahawks franchise history.

5. Holmgren's final game at Qwest Field:

Very rarely does a team win one for a coach but I always felt the Seahawks won that game for Holmgren. Holmgren was introduced last as he ran out of the tunnel during a trying 3-11 season as they took on the 9-5 New York Jets. It was a great gesture the Seahawks did for Holmgren having him run out of the tunnel.

The Seahawks pulled off the upset winning 13-3 over the Jets. Holmgren unlike most successful coach was strict but always appreciated the fans. Holmgren never had outbursts to the media and always handled himself with class. After the game was over who he actually defeated Brett Favre the quarterback who he'll always be linked with. Holmgren jogged around the whole stadium slapping hands with the fans and waving to all the fans showing his appreciation. Holmgren who was basically forced into retirement never once blew up on the Seahawks. The Seahawks players showing how much Holmgren meant to them pulled off the upset over the Jets as Holmgren walked away from Seattle a winner.

4. Holmgren builds the greatest offense in Seahawks history:

Mike Holmgren inherited Walter Jones who is the greatest Seahawks offensive lineman ever. From there Holmgren built what was eventually the Super Bowl offense. Holmgren drafted Steve Hutchinson with the 17th pick in the 2001 draft, signed Robbie Tobeck, drafted Darrell Jackson, signed Bobby Engram, drafted Shaun Alexander and traded for Matt Hasselbeck.

Holmgren for all the flack he received as a GM actually was pretty good. He traded the Seahawks 10th pick in the draft(Jamaal Reynolds-Bust) to the Packers for Matt Hasselbeck and the 17th pick(Hutchinson). He also traded Joey Galloway for two first round picks to the Dallas Cowboys which was Koren Robinson who was a key contributer to the 2003 and 2004 playoff teams. Oh the other player was Shaun Alexander who won the 2005 MVP. The Holmgren-Tim Ruskell relationship started to fall apart when Ruskell let Hutchinson go. A move had Holmgren been GM never would have happened. The Seahawks haven't had a thousand yard rusher since letting Hutchinson go. With Hutchinson and big Walter Jones the Seahawks had the best rushing attack in the NFL from 2001-2005 and had the #1 ranked offense during their 2005 Super Bowl season.

3. Defeating the Dallas Cowboys 21-20 in the 2006 NFC wild card playoffs:

On a national scale this is probably the most famous Seahawks win in franchise history. Heading into this game the defending NFC champions were banged up. The 9-7 Seahawks had lost MVP Alexander for six games, pro bowl quarterback Hasselbeck for four games. Heading into this game the Seahawks lost three of their four top cornerbacks including Marcus Trufant. Despite being at home nobody expected the Seahawks to win this game as the Dallas Cowboys featured Tony Romo and Terrell Owens. Holmgren making a bold prediction all week long stated the secondary will not be the story of the week. Well Holmgren was right on that one instead it was a fluke play which ended up ending the career of hall of fame coach and friend of Holmgren's Bill Parcells career.

The Seahawks battled back to take a 21-20 lead over the Cowboys. The Cowboys had the game in end all they had to do was make a field goal for the win to eliminate the Seahawks. Instead Tony Romo fumbled the ball and the hero from the last time the Seahawks beat the Cowboys Jordan Babineaux stepped up again making the saving tackle on Romo. After the game it was recorded Holmgren screaming in joy to his guys "I told you secondary you weren't going to let me down!". Holmgren put his neck on the line and his players responded like they always did for him. Holmgren is like a father figure where you know not to walk over him but you care for him so much you can't help but rise up for that man.

2. Trading for franchise quarterback Matt Hasselbeck:

After Jon Kitna and Brock Huard proved they weren't the franchise quarterbacks during a 6-10 season in 2000 Holmgren knew he needed a quarterback. So Holmgren shocked everyone when he traded for a guy he drafted in the 6th round for the Green Bay Packers. Holmgren traded the 10th pick in the draft to the Packers for the 17th pick and Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck at that point in his career had just 29 pass attempts in his NFL career. Holmgren at the press conference said in a half joking/half serious matter "This right shoulder right here will decide how long I'm coach here."

At first the move backfield on Holmgren as Hasselbeck struggled during the 2001 season. The Seahawks were 5-7 with Hasselbeck while 4-0 with Trent Dilfer missing the playoffs by tiebreaker. Many fans were frustrated that Holmgren didn't go with Dilfer all season long. Holmgren often said he isn't going to sacrifice the long term success for a quick playoff appearance. After starting off 4-9 in 2002 rumors were circling that Holmgren was going to be fired. Hasselbeck caught fire and the Hawks finished 7-9 to end the season. After that the Seahawks went to the playoffs five straight seasons. For Hasselbeck he finished his Seahawks career with three pro bowl appearances, completed 60.2% of his passes for 29,434 yards(6.9 YPA) with 174 touchdown passes to 128 interceptions. Hasselbeck ended up winning five division titles, and won five playoff games including the NFC championship in 2005.

1. Taking the Seahawks to the Super Bowl in 2005:

The Seahawks entire 2005 season was a make or break season for Holmgren. The 2004 season had great expectations but fell short losing once again in the playoffs. This was a win a playoff game or leave town type of year for Holmgren. The team responded with a franchise record 13-3 season that saw seven Seahawks make the probowl including Alexander winning the MVP. That season included memorable wins over the Dallas Cowboys 13-10 as the Seahawks trailed 10-3 with two minutes to go only to win in regulation. The Seahawks also beat the New York Giants 24-21 in overtime as Jay Feely missed three field goals.

In the playoffs though the Seahawks lost Shaun Alexander to injury against the Washington Redskins. The Seahawks the #1 seed still won the game 20-10 behind Hasselbeck as Holmgren got the playoff monkey off his back. The following game against the Carolina Panthers in a game I was in attendance the Seahawks crushed the Panthers 34-14 which was the greatest win in franchise history. Prior to Holmgren the Seahawks had won the division title just once and had never made it to the Super Bowl. Holmgren turned the Seahawks into a top five franchise from 2003-2007 as only the New England Patriots and Indianopolis Colts had better records.

In conclusion, Holmgren won't make an impact on the game today but I'm glad Seahawks fans are talking about Holmgren. He set the bar high for this current group of Seahawks to achieve and what made him so great was he valued the importance of the quarterback. Holmgren will always be a legend in Seattle and I can't wait for the day he is elected into the Seahawks ring of honor. As you can see Holmgren did so much for this franchise and although he'll be up in the booth or maybe even on the sidelines it will feel weird seeing him not with the Seahawks. I will now know how Packers fans felt when Holmgren coached against them. This will be strange but let's remember all the great things Holmgren did for this franchise.

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