Holmgren may start another rookie, but not giving up on season

  • SCOTT M. JOHNSON / Herald Writer
  • Monday, October 9, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

By SCOTT M. JOHNSON

Herald Writer

KIRKLAND — In what is becoming a weekly occurrence, Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren faced the media one day after a disappointing loss Monday and announced that there might be another young player in his starting lineup.

This week, it’s tackle Chris McIntosh, whom Holmgren said might start against the Indianapolis Colts at Husky Stadium on Sunday. The announcement seemed to send a familiar message, which led to another weekly occurrence: a question about whether the Seahawks are conceding this as a rebuilding year.

"We’re at 2-4 and it’s a little grim here today," Holmgren said one day after a 26-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers. "But in no way am I conceding the season. I said, I’ve been in situations where all the sudden they snap around, they go on a little winning streak and now you’re right back in it. So no, I am not conceding the season."

Little by little, Holmgren is moving rookies and second-year players into the starting lineup. If McIntosh does replace Todd Weiner as the starting right tackle, he would be the third such young player to replace a veteran since the season began. Rookie wide receiver Darrell Jackson and quarterback Brock Huard already have been pushed into starting roles, while running back Shaun Alexander and wide receiver James Williams are also expected to see extended playing time Sunday.

Holmgren has said repeatedly that this won’t be a rebuilding season, but his personnel moves and the team’s 2-4 start seem to paint a different picture.

"If you try to figure Mike out, you’re not going to get very far," guard Pete Kendall said Monday. "You just go by what he tells you. Mike’s very up front that he’s going to play the people that he thinks give us our best chance to win. So we take a man at his word and go on.

"Sitting around and wondering if he’s rebuilding or not rebuilding, it doesn’t do anybody any good."

The veteran players who haven’t lost their starting jobs yet are just rolling with the punches. Holmgren is trying to build up a Super Bowl-caliber team for the future, but the present is slowly being sacrificed.

When asked about McIntosh, Holmgren unintentionally laid out his philosophy of the 2000 season.

"Why not put him in? You know? Really," Holmgren said. "Why not play Brock Huard? Why not play Darrell Jackson? Give these young guys a chance to play. Let’s see what we got. They will be better for it. Sure, you’re going to take one on the chin every once in a while, but now’s the time to do this."

Huard’s addition to the lineup certainly wasn’t the only reason Seattle got blown out by Carolina on Sunday, but it might have sent a signal to some of the veterans. And the result was shoddy play that also lacked emotion — across the board.

"We did not play very inspired (Sunday)," Holmgren said, "and that bothered me as much as anything."

Kendall’s comments seem to represent the Seattle veterans well. While the team suffers through growing pains, the older players aren’t trying to overanalyze the big picture.

"Maybe he sees some things for the future, but the immediate thing is winning right now," said defensive tackle Riddick Parker, a four-year veteran. "In some instances, maybe it projects toward the future. But I’d like to think that he wants to win now, too."

Holmgren maintains that 2000 is his focus, with a victory over the Colts on Sunday his No. 1 priority. But there has been a lot of roster turnover and now the Seahawks have an AFC-high 17 rookies or first-year players on their roster. Including McIntosh, there would be five starters with one full season or less in the starting lineup.

And the younger they have gotten, the further the Seahawks have been sinking.

At one point in his Monday press conference, Holmgren complimented the play of his young players, saying that there was "light at the end of the tunnel."

A few minutes later, he added: "I didn’t say how long the tunnel was."

That spoke volumes about the current state of the Seahawks. Holmgren is ready to show them the way, but it might be taking a bit longer than he thought.

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