New Wrinkles in Alexander/Morris Rotation

New Wrinkles in Alexander/Morris Rotation

Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren created a sense of confusion about his running game in Sunday's win over Arizona because backup Maurice Morris got more carries (13) than starter Shaun Alexander (10), the first time that has happened this season in a game in which Alexander has been fully healthy.

Since Alexander returned from a knee sprain that kept him sidelined for three weeks, Holmgren has said the two backs would split duty, though that generally was assumed to mean that Morris would get more carries then he normally does.

But not more carries than Alexander.

Holmgren clarified the situation on Monday, saying the team decided to give each back a series, rather than shuttling them in and out based on play-calls and situations.

"Nolan (Cromwell) will say, 'OK, this is Mo's series, this is Shaun's series,' then we go through our normal substitution patterns," Holmgren said. "You kind of couple all that together and you get what you got."
As it turned out, Alexander got more yards (38) than Morris (36) because he had a 25-yard run, his longest of the season.

Because of their weaknesses, Holmgren said which player is in the game could affect his play-calling -- if he stopped to consider who was in the game. Instead, he chooses not to consider the ramifications.

"Both those athletes have to run what I call," Holmgren said. "I just said, 'Look, to call a game is hard enough,' and then to have to factor in those things, I can't do it. So I just have to call it, and whoever is in there has to function."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Assistant trainer Donald Rich and assistant strength and conditioning coach Darren Krein got into a confrontation on the sidelines on Sunday, which was aired on television. Apparently, when there was a fracas on the field, Krein was responsible for holding people back so the Seahawks were not assessed a penalty. Rich took offense and the two started jawing at each other, needing to be restrained before Mike Holmgren stepped in to stop it.

"I said to them in a very nice way, 'I am coaching a game here so let's kind of relax a little because I don't really need this right now,'" Holmgren said.

--The Seahawks are bringing in long snappers on Tuesday to see if they can find somebody to replace Boone Stutz, who had another high snap on Sunday that cost the Seahawks an extra point. "The snap ... should be fairly automatic," Holmgren said. "We can't think about that too much. And certainly our kicker can't and our punter can't. If all of a sudden they go, 'Where is it going, what is happening here?' then that affects how they play. So we're going to look at someone. If they show, there's a chance (we'd sign him)."

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

--WR D.J. Hackett is progressing from a high-ankle sprain but is not expected to play Sunday in Carolina.
--CB Josh Wilson is healing faster than expected from a quad strain but is likely out Sunday against the Panthers.
--PK Josh Brown now has more than 100 points for the fifth time in his career, a team record.
--LB Niko Koutouvides has a career-high 18 special-teams tackles.
--RB Maurice Morris has a career-high 14 receptions.
--QB Matt Hasselbeck needs only 64 more attempts to become the franchise's all-time leader.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

REPORT CARD VS. CARDINALS

PASSING OFFENSE: A-plus -- Matt Hasselbeck had the best game of the season, completing 13 of his first 15 passes and 22 of 33 overall for 282 yards and four touchdowns. It was good for a 131.6 passer rating. He threw to four different receivers, all of whom made nice catches to help him out. Also, the pass protection was reasonably good.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus -- The Seahawks managed only 80 yards on 28 carries (2.9 avg.) even though their passing game opened up the field. Granted, some of the runs came as the Seahawks were trying to ice the game, but they need to do a better job of being able to sustain that facet of their offense when they need it.

PASS DEFENSE: A-plus -- The Seahawks picked off Cardinals QB Kurt Warner five times, including on Arizona's first possession, which set the tone, and including a touchdown by Marcus Trufant, who had three interceptions and now is second in the NFL with seven. The pass rush got to Warner five times, three by Patrick Kerney.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- After allowing Edgerrin James to rush for 128 yards in the first meeting, the Seahawks held James to 46 yards on 13 carries, making them a one-dimensional team.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F -- Josh Brown inadvertently booted a kickoff out of bounds. Ryan Plackemeier had a 21-yard punt. Boone Stutz had a high snap that cost an extra point at the end of the game. The kick return team gave up an onside kick to Neil Rackers. The only thing keeping them from getting an F-minus is that the punt return team had a safety.

COACHING: A -- In winning his fourth straight NFC West division title, Mike Holmgren put together a masterful game plan that allowed the Seahawks to score on their first four possessions, and defensive coordinator John Marshall devised a plan to stop James and get pressure on Warner, resulting in five turnovers.

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