Seahawks Will Continue Running Back Rotation


Posted Dec 4, 2007


The Seattle Seahawks won three straight games with Shaun Alexander sidelined with a knee injury. Now that he is back, coach Mike Holmgren is loathe to completely sideline Maurice Morris, who averaged 85 yards a game in those three victories.

Which means that Alexander and Morris will be required to split time in the backfield depending on the types of plays that Holmgren is calling. Holmgren and running backs coach Stump Mitchell met with both players last week to prevent any feelings of ill will because the duties will now be split -- though they still will tilt in Alexander's favor.

"They're handling this situation about as well as you can handle it, in my opinion," Holmgren said. "To find this type of attitude by the two of them, they are really putting the team first. We worked hard. I will say this, Stump Mitchell, their coach, and I tossed my two cents in there, of course, to talk to both of them and make sure they're not off balance about what their roles are going to be, and how we're going to play this. They've both accepted it well, and I'm proud of them for that."

In Sunday's 28-24 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, Alexander got 20 carries and Morris got five. However, Alexander gained 65 yards and scored a touchdown and Morris gained 64 yards thanks to a 45-yard touchdown saunter.

Holmgren said he is not going to micromanage the position, allowing the coaches to determine how to work the individual players into the scheme.

"That's a tough one," Holmgren said. "It's kind of how the game is going, what I want to do in a particular part of the game. I would like to get it so it's rather interchangeable, but they are different athletes. So you run the same stuff, for a good portion of it, then they have their strengths, and I'll try to play to their strengths.

"What I can't do is, I'm leaving that up to Stump (Mitchell) and Nolan (Cromwell) for substitutions. I'm calling the game, if there are some things that we absolutely think that we should have Mo in the game for, it's up to them to get Mo in the game. If there is something I would normally like Shaun in the game for, and Mo's in the game, that's the way it is. But I can't worry about it so much as a signal-caller, that's how we're going to do it."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Coach Mike Holmgren has threatened his offensive line all season that if it didn't shape up, he was going to use utility-man Floyd Womack. He practiced that way all week when the Seahawks prepared for the Cleveland Browns several weeks ago. Holmgren finally pulled the trigger on Sunday, allowing Womack to play for left guard Rob Sims for a few series. "I felt Womack deserved to play a little bit," Holmgren said. "He is a good lineman that has not played at all. Rob was struggling just a little bit with some things and it's okay for a young player, as long as he approaches it the right way, to sit back and watch a more veteran player play his position a little bit and we would re-insert him into the game. Unless anyone completely fell apart, that is what we were going to do. You'll see some more of that."

--One of the keys to Seattle's season so far has been its ability to sack the QB. In their seven wins, they had 31 sacks. In their four losses, they had only three sacks. Sunday's win over Philadelphia was the first time they were able to get a victory without getting to the QB. They had only one sack, and that came on the Eagles' last possession of the game. "We had forced interceptions. I'll take those over a sack any day," defensive end Patrick Kerney said. "We talk about affecting the passer. I think we did that."

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

--CB Josh Wilson suffered a quad injury and is expected to be out for at least one week, and maybe longer.
--S C.J. Wallace suffered a knee injury and is sidelined for an indeterminate amount of time.
--C Chris Spencer suffered an oblique injury but he should be back for Sunday's game against Arizona.
--LB Will Herring, who has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury, is expected to be back this week against Arizona.
--OT Walter Jones suffered a minor knee injury on Sunday, missing three plays, but is expected to be able to play against the Cardinals.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

REPORT CARD VS. EAGLES

PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus -- On a dreary, wet afternoon, Matt Hasselbeck was only able to complete 19 of 34 passes for 187 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. One of the touchdown passes came about because of some nifty running by Nate Burleson. He had two passes dropped, one by Deion Branch and one by Marcus Pollard. The offensive line did a decent job of protecting him, giving up two sacks.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A-minus -- With Shan Alexander back for the first time in three weeks, the offense had a more balanced attack, with 29 runs against 34 passes. Alexander had 65 yards on 20 carries, while his backup, Mo Morris, had 64 yards on five carries, including a 45-yard touchdown scamper. It was the running game's best production this year, and Alexander ran harder than he has all season, even if his yards-per-run average was down.

PASS DEFENSE: A -- Yes, the secondary gave up 220 yards and a touchdown to Eagles QB A.J. Feeley, and cornerback Kelly Jennings was whistled for a pass-interference call that gave Philadelphia the ball at the goal line. But the Seahawks had four interceptions, three by middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, all of which were at critical points in the game. The fourth pick was by Julian Peterson. Feeley had a 30 passer rating.

RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus -- This grade actually would have been lower except for a pivotal goal-line stand at the end of the first half that yielded no points. It was the third goal-line stand in two games. Otherwise, giving up a 30-yard touchdown run to Correll Buckhalter, a 29-yard TD run to Brian Westbrook and 144 yards overall were not very good.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F -- Kicker Josh Brown missed his third field goal in four attempts. Punter Ryan Plackemeier put the defense in a bind all day by averaging just 30.4 yards on seven punts. And he never should have punted to Westbrook at the end of the game, which Westbrook returned 64 yards to Seattle's 14 with less than two minutes to play.

COACHING: B -- Defensive coordinator John Marshall did a wonderful job bottling up Feeley and putting Tatupu in position for those interceptions. But Mike Holmgren took the blame for punting to Westbrook, saying it never dawned on him to tell Plackemeier to kick it out of bounds. It almost cost the Seahawks the game.



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