Seattle Coach Mike Holmgren Conference Call Transcript - Jan. 9

(After everything you've taught Brett Favre have you taken any pages out his book on retirement and how to contemplate it?)

Well, you know what, it's interesting. We're both at a situation in our careers where it comes up on occasion. So I'm trying to be wise with it. We're going to take it a year at a time right now and after the season's over Kathy and I are going to let the dust settle and go someplace for a week or so and kind of think about how we want to do this. Right now I love our football team and I'm energized and I feel good. But that's kind of been the plan for the last couple years for me. It's not as important as when Brett talks about it. I understand that, but that's how we're approaching it.

(Are you any different as a coach now than you were with the Packers in the mid-'90s?)

I think so. I think I delegate a lot more. In those early years in Green Bay of course you know we had a relatively young offensive staff and it was important that I teach the system to those guys and then little by little now I can kind of back away from the actual installation and those types of things and do some other things. But I still enjoy calling the games, which is the same. But the biggest difference I think is I've delegated a lot of authority to Gil Haskell, our offensive coordinator, and I don't probably jump into drills quite as much as I did in those days in Green Bay. I kind of let the guys coach most of the time and then we'll deal with it in meetings afterwards.

(Are you any mellower now?)

I don't think so. I would like to say I am but once the game starts and we start playing I get pretty fired up. I believe I'm just as demanding at practice as I've always been, and there are certain things that I want the players to do and certain ways I want them to conduct themselves in meetings and so on that will never change. They were built on sound fundamental principles and that's the way I was raised in the league, and I still am demanding that way. Now, being mellow, actually in some respects I probably have less patience to be honest.

(You've seen the coach/GM jobs from both sides now. If you owned an NFL team would you separate them?)

You know that's really a good question. I think there's a couple of ways to look at it. I still contend that the coach and general manager can be one job as long as you have a good vice president of player personnel and a good financial guy. In Seattle, when Ted Thompson was one of those guys and Mike Reinfeldt was the other, I think we had the setup that was going to be successful. Now, early on we took a couple of lumps and they changed the program here just a little bit and since then it's changed again, but I thought we had a real chance at it with those two guys. Now Ted's there in Green Bay and is doing a remarkable job and he's really good at what he does, and so you guys know him. So I thought we had a chance. If you don't have those two guys or if you don't trust those guys implicitly, then it's pretty difficult, I think to be the coach/general manager. On the other side of the coin, if you want to split it up and have a general manager and coach, those two men absolutely have to be on the same page in this era. It's hard to find two guys that kind of look at things the same way, can put their egos on check and work that way together. The perfect example that we had was Ron Wolf and myself in Green Bay. Now of course Ron, we never had an argument about anything. We both wanted the same thing for the football program and it worked. But those two guys absolutely have to be on the same page. Now it appears to me from an outsider looking in that now in Green Bay with Ted and Mike you have that situation again.

(What do you remember about Brett's first win?)

I remember we started Don Majkowski and then Don got hurt and Brett went in the game and it was kind of wild. You know, I mean he was probably not expecting to play and early in his career, I think by his own admission, his preparation if he didn't expect to play was probably different. I know it was different than it is now. But he had to play and he went in and I remember standing on the sidelines though and Cincinnati was ahead, thinking to myself, 'I'm going to have the shortest tenure in the history of the NFL. I'm never going to win a game.' Because we were 0-2 at the time because we had lost to Minnesota and then we lost to Tampa. And then you fast forward it. I don't remember specifics other than we got the ball back with a minute to go and then he threw two beautiful passes, one of them winning the game, and it was just kind of a miracle ending and the start, clearly, of something very special for Brett Favre. And I'll always remember how that game ended. You win your first game as a coach and you don't forget it, and it was that game.

(Is there one track to becoming a successful QB and if so have Matt and Brett followed it even though they have different styles?)

I'm not sure. I think there's a couple things that really helps. One, if you can have some continuity in your developmental time as a quarterback - if the first four years with an organization if you can have some continuity on the coaching staff - I think that helps. I think the player has to have a chance to play the game and not just watch the game. I think he has to have a chance to play the game, make his mistakes, correct his mistakes, take his lumps as long as he doesn't get hurt too much. I think that's very, very important. I think thirdly the player really has to want to be good and he has to sacrifice and do the things that are necessary to be good. And then fourthly there are systems that I think help the quarterback more than others, and I think the system that we have, the "West Coast system" even though it's been changed a lot, the quarterback really has a chance to maximize his skill level. Not everyone's as skilled as Brett Favre, but this system allows lesser athletes to play well because the Brett Favres of the world come around once in a lifetime.

(How much was it about you taming each one of these guys and when did it finally turn for each of them?)

I think that's a little overstated at times, I really do. I think most of the quarterbacks I've ever coached have been very bright guys and very headstrong, and very competitive and not used to losing and used to being right. And when you're teaching them something new the natural conflicts will come up at times. How they all have been different, they all have been the same in the fact that at some point they say 'OK, I get it. I do get this now.' And then they start playing better and things start to slow down and it's better for them. Up until that point, yeah you bang around a little bit. I don't think any of the quarterbacks, Matt and Brett included, ever didn't believe I loved them to death, but I did coach them hard sometimes because I believe that's the most important position on the football team and they've got to get it right. During that little apprentice period if you will, yeah you bang heads a little bit, but they all knew it was for the right reason and hopefully if you asked them they'd say that and they both emerged out of that apprentice period to become very, very fine football players.

(What strikes you about the Packers defense?)

I think they've played fine defense all season long. I think they're very talented at the corner position and their front seven has done a great job versus the run. Now they have other fine players, don't get me wrong, but if you can kind of do those things, you've got it going. And they play with a lot of emotion. They've got some young guys there that really play the game the way the game should be played - very, very hard.

(Is it the same coming back to Green Bay as when you went to San Francisco as the Packers head coach?)

I think there are some (similarities) but that's natural. Keep in mind when I was in Green Bay and we'd go back and play the 49ers, San Francisco's my home. It was a very special place to me. That's where I grew up, I coached for that team and so you want to go back there and do well. I think that's a pretty natural feeling, and I would say the same thing about Green Bay. Green Bay, when we were there, very special place for me and my family, and we did some fun things there with the football program. Now when I go back in there I want to do well. I want people to remember, 'Hey, he's not bad.' I could talk to my players until the cows come home about that and they don't care. They didn't play in Green Bay, they didn't live in Green Bay. They just want to go out and play a good football game, but for me personally, yeah I want to go back in there and have our team play well. We know we're up against it because the Packers are good and we know the challenges, but it is important to me.

(Was the playoff loss in 2003 one of the toughest you've had to take?)

I would say, yeah, that was a tough one because I think we kind of overachieved in that game. We were the underdog, much like we are in this game coming up, and we battled a very fine Packer team and we had a chance there and we were in a position to perhaps win that game, which would have been a tremendous victory for a program that we were trying to build up here in Seattle. Then when it was snatched that quickly, you know your season ends, bang. In about four seconds it's all over. Very, very difficult. But then you try to learn from those things and you keep going.

{sportsad300}(Is the difference in postseason experience between the two teams the biggest difference in this game and is there a downside to having that experience?)

I don't think there's a downside to being experienced. I think it can be difficult when you're inexperienced. If the situation was reversed and the Packers were a little more experienced than the Seahawks and then the Seahawks had to go on the road to play a game, I think the experience factor plays into it a little more. The fact that they're playing at home, I think the experience thing might be overstated then. Now if an inexperienced or young team has to go on the road, then it becomes a little bit more of a thing.

(You've said your team has been one of the best fighting groups you've had. What's an example of that?)

We were kind of inconsistent the beginning of the year and we've punched away a couple games we had a chance to win, and then we kind of changed our philosophy a little bit and then we won six games in a row. During that six game stretch we were behind the Bears 14 points, we were behind early on in the game against the Rams. So we'd be behind in these games and start the games rather slowly. And then last week against Washington, there was a tremendous momentum shift in that game. We had things under control for the most part, and then they went ahead. I was very, very proud of the football team that they didn't cave in as could happen. They're a pretty resilient group and they kind of believe they can get it done. When they believe that and then actually get it done, that's a building block for your organization. That's what I think this team has done this year.

(Is there anything to Brett Favre being up and down in his recent playoff outings and do you look at that?)

I think it's hard to bunch them all together. I would never do that. I think you look at what he's done most recently and he's had a marvelous year. My goodness, he's really played well this year and that's the Brett we're going to have to play against and prepare for, we know that. I've always said, even with the losing streaks and there was a big deal around here for a while - the game after the bye we hadn't won for four years or something. That's all well and good and it sounds nice and it fills some space on a page. But the game itself, absolutely every game, is a single entity for the player and the team, and on that day, with that team this is the game we're playing and anything that's happened in the past is out the window.

(What do you make of Ryan Grant and his out-of-nowhere success?)

Well, again, I think the world of Ted Thompson and clearly he made another great move there. Ryan Grant has brought a lot of zip to the running game for the Packers. I know it's something Mike (McCarthy) believes in and really wants to get going, and this young man - actually I see him in his 25 jersey, he reminds me of Dorsey Levens. That's what I think about when I watch him play and he has really brought another dimension to a team that was pretty good, not running the ball the way they would like, but pretty good anyway and this makes them more dangerous. He's had a great year and I credit Ted Thompson with that.

(Are you confident in your team's ability to run the ball this week?)

Well I don't know, we'll have to see. I was more confident in 2005 when we led the league in rushing. It was a struggle for us early on. Of course, Alexander got hurt and we had some young people in our offensive line and it really wasn't coming together the way I would like. We've been running the ball a little bit better the last couple weeks, which is encouraging to me. I think it will be important that we do that some in this game coming up.

(Are you going to give the guys a brief tour of Holmgren Way on your way to the stadium Saturday?)

You know what, no. This is a business trip all the way. I'll bring the whole team back there when the weather's really nice and make them walk down the street.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content