Hawks’ savior?

  • SCOTT M. JOHNSON / Herald Writer
  • Thursday, November 9, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

By SCOTT M. JOHNSON

Herald Writer

It would be such a perfect fit. Mark Brunell, a former University of Washington quarterback, comes back to Seattle to be reunited with his first NFL coach.

A perfect fit, but not for Brunell.

“I’ve made my home here,” the Jacksonville Jaguars’ starting quarterback said during a conference call with the Seattle media Wednesday. “I like this organization. I like the city. I’ve got a number of family and friends here now. It is a crazy business, but I am very pleased with my situation here.”

Too bad. Because the Seattle Seahawks will probably be looking for help at the quarterback position, and Brunell would be quite a find.

Rumors of a stormy relationship with Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin, combined with Seattle’s search for a long-term quarterback, have led to some unfounded speculation that Brunell might end up getting reunited with Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren next season. While Brunell has nothing but good things to say about Holmgren, he sees Jacksonville as his home.

As for the rumors of a coach-quarterback feud in the northern Florida city, both parties dismiss it as media fabrication.

“In all honesty, we’ve never had an argument,” Brunell said. “Certainly I have a deep respect for Coach Coughlin. I think he’s a fine man. I think he’s a good coach. If there’s a man who’s mostly responsible for our success in the last 5 1/2years, it’s him. It’s unfortunate that something like that came out. But there just isn’t any truth to it.”

Said Coughlin: “It’s always been a good, solid relationship. It’s always been open, it’s always been straight-forward. This is old news.”

Reports of a rift between Brunell and Coughlin started to surface following a 15-10 loss to Baltimore four weeks ago. Coughlin benched Brunell during the second half of that game, opting to go with backup Jamie Martin in an effort to give the offense a spark. Brunell expressed frustration after the game, but gave Coughlin a vote of confidence by the middle of the next week.

Still, some media reports painted a darker picture, going as far as to say that it could be Brunell’s last season in Jacksonville – even though he has a year remaining on his current contract.

Considering Brunell’s college days and his relationship with Holmgren, Seattle seemed like an obvious next stop.

While nothing will happen before the offseason, Holmgren could do well by adding one of his former signal callers to the mix. In his first three seasons as coach of the Green Bay Packers, Holmgren brought in four quarterbacks who eventually became NFL starters: Brunell, Brett Favre, Ty Detmer and Kurt Warner. Three of those guys went on to play in the Pro Bowl.

Almost two years into his tenure with the Seahawks, Holmgren is still trying to find one starter.

On Monday, Holmgren indicated that the team would address the position during the offseason. By Wednesday, he backtracked a bit by saying it’s too early to tell and that the quarterbacks currently on the roster will factor into the future plan.

“The quarterback position is a very important position for us,” Holmgren said Wednesday. “Whether it’s a quarterback we have here right now or whether it’s a quarterback that’s not here right now, this is going to be a high-priority item in the offseason. Now that’s the way it is.

“Have I started the ball rolling in any particular direction? No. You all know the process on what it takes to get a quarterback if he’s not in your program. There’s only two or three things you can do. But shoot, that is so premature at this point it’s ridiculous.”

If you ask Brunell, whoever ends up being the Seahawks’ quarterback of the future will be in good hands.

“Look at the guys he’s been with,” Brunell said of Holmgren. “No matter how good you are – whether you’re a Joe Montana, or a Steve Young, or a Brett Favre – you need a good coach. You need a guy who can direct you, coach you, help you, and Mike has done that for all those guys. And more.

“I think there’s always been a respect. Every quarterback who’s had Mike respects him, enjoys working for him and I think that’s the reason he has done so well.”

Brunell’s current coach is in no hurry to send him packing, even though the quarterback is scheduled to make $7 million next season. Coughlin said Brunell is in the prime of his career, and bristled at talk about his quarterback getting on in years.

“He’s 30 years old, for crying out loud,” Coughlin said. “He’s a youngster, a mere child.”

Brunell obviously has a lot more football left in him. He sounds like he’d like to play it in Jacksonville. Then again, it is a crazy business.

  • NOTES: Seahawks wide receiver Sean Dawkins (bruised quadriceps), cornerback Willie Williams (neck stinger) and safety Kerry Joseph (bruised chest) missed their second day of practice Thursday because of injuries. Dawkins is questionable for Sunday’s game at Jacksonville, and would be replaced by Darrell Jackson in the starting lineup if he can’t go. Williams and Joseph aren’t on the injury list. … Quarterback Brock Huard (concussion) also missed practice and remains questionable for the game. It appears Jon Kitna will make his third consecutive start at quarterback.
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