Kitna shines, but sees bench in his future

  • SCOTT M. JOHNSON / Herald Writer
  • Sunday, November 12, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

By SCOTT M. JOHNSON

Herald Writer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Following a meeting between the Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks and coach Mike Holmgren last week, Jon Kitna found himself scribbling messages in his game-plan notebook.

Perhaps the most important was, in Kitna’s words: “I have to execute better so he’ll trust me and continue to do these things.”

That is what Kitna’s career in Seattle has boiled down to recently. Above everything else, the 28-year-old quarterback is trying to regain his coach’s trust and confidence.

So Sunday’s performance – when Kitna completed 22 of 33 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-21 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars – had to be especially satisfying. For the first time in a long time, Kitna earned Holmgren’s confidence.

“I think it will,” Kitna said. “That was one thing he said, ‘You guys are going to have to play into my trust.’ Hopefully, today was an example of that. Anytime you win, I think it helps the trust factor.”

Last Monday’s meeting wasn’t just about trust. The coach and his quarterbacks sat down to open lines of communication. Holmgren calmly explained to his quarterbacks what he wanted from them, then asked what he could do in return. Kitna’s response: open up the offense.

“From our meeting on Monday,” Kitna said, “he came in (Wednesday) and said, ‘I’m going to cut this thing loose. You guys want it, Jon wants it, the quarterbacks want it, so we’re going to do it.’ “

Using a more aggressive offense than the Seahawks have shown in a long time, Kitna delivered. He completed three passes of more than 20 yards, which equaled the amount Kitna had thrown in his previous four starts combined. Kitna’s 231 yards passing were his second-highest mark of the season, and he continually made big throws when it counted.

During a subpar first half in which he had led only one scoring drive, Kitna turned things around by single-handedly leading the Seahawks on a nine-play, 67-yard drive in the final minute. Kitna completed 7 of 8 passes for 70 yards on that drive, including a 15-yard touchdown pass to Sean Dawkins with 13 seconds remaining that pulled the Seahawks to within 21-14.

In fact, Kitna completed 18 of 23 passes with three touchdowns on the final five drives. He threw second-half scoring passes to Derrick Mayes and Ricky Watters, and added a key 29-yard pass to Dawkins on third down with less than four minutes remaining to set up the game-winning touchdown.

It was quite a switch for a quarterback who entered the game ranked 29th in the NFL with a squeamish 67.9 rating.

“It was a gutsy performance,” Holmgren said. “He’s been struggling a little bit this year. I told him I was going to open it up, that I was not going to hold it in like I did last week. That’s my end of the bargain to him. His is, he’s got to make plays, make throws. And he did that.”

Having already lost his starting job to Brock Huard, Kitna knew he couldn’t mess up his chance after begging for a more aggressive offense. And when he got the chance, Kitna kept up his end.

“When you lose your job, it’s human nature to be looking over your shoulder a little bit,” Kitna said. “You play a little more tentative, because you don’t want to make a mistake that’s going to make you lose your job again.”

Kitna may have done enough Sunday to make Holmgren’s next 13 days difficult. Huard is expected to return from his ongoing concussion in time for Seattle’s Nov. 26 game against the Denver Broncos, but at least Kitna earned back some confidence.

“It’s Brock’s job,” Kitna said. “I have no inkling of anything different. As the starter, you hope the injury doesn’t make you lose your job.

“I am not trying to audition for a job or anything like that. I am just trying to play football and help this team win games. When Brock comes back and he’s able to play, I go back into the backup role. That’s the role I’m playing right now.”

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Sports

Glacier Peak’s Mateo Ganje wins the Boys 200M 4A dash during the Class 4A, 3A, 2A track and field state championships at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma, Washington on Saturday, May 25, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
State track: Glacier Peak’s Mateo Ganje claims 200 gold

Ganje, Everett jumper Shukurani Ndayiragije each take home three top-three medals.

The Jackson softball team poses with the Class 4A state tournament trophy after a 10-1 triumph over Emerald Ridge Saturday, May 25 at Columbia Playfield in Richland, WA. (Aaron Coe / The Herald).
Domination: Jackson repeats as 4A state softball champion

The Yanina Sherwood-led Timberwolves top Emerald Ridge 10-1 in the title game.

Snohomish’s Hannah Siegler becomes emotional after striking out in the final inning of the 3A state softball championship game against Auburn Riverside on Saturday, May 25, 2024 in Lacey, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish softball falls in 3A state championship game

The Panthers lose 11-6 to Auburn Riverside, marking their second straight championship-game defeat.

State roundup: Murphy’s Balen, Jackson boys win tennis titles

Grace Academy’s Pearce Hess sweeps the sprints in the Class 1B boys track and field meet.

Snohomish players move their teamname up the bracket after a 3A softball game between Snohomish and Seattle Prep at the regional athletic complex in Lacey, Washington on Friday, May 24, 2024. Snohomish won, 8-0. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish softball advances to state semifinals

Abby Edwards’ pitching, Camryn Sage’s hitting lifts Snohomish to an 8-0 quarterfinal win over Seattle Prep.

The Jackson softball team greets Yanina Sherwood after her sixth-inning, two-run homer put Jackson ahead 4-1 a Class 4A state playoff first-round game May 24 at Columbia Playfields in Richland, WA (Aaron Coe / The Herald).
Jackson softball halfway to defending its state championship

The Timberwolves beat Eastmont, Olympia to move into the Class 4A semifinals.

X
Lake Stevens’ Brown, Pilchuck’s Velasquez win state titles

How did locals fare at state in track and field, baseball and tennis? Find out here.

Mariners report card: ‘A lot of positives’ at 50-game mark

Does Seattle have enough to maintain its lead in the AL West through the rest of the season?

Snohomish players celebrate beating Garfield in the 3A state softball semifinal game to advance to the championship on Saturday, May 25, 2024 in Lacey, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish beats Garfield to advance to state championship

The Panthers punch their ticket to the state championship game with a 9-8 win over Garfield.

Cascade’s Mia Walker, right, cries and hugs teammate Allison Gehrig after beating Gig Harbor on Thursday, May 23, 2024 in Lacey, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Seniors Wilson, Tripp power Cascade softball past Gig Harbor

The pair combined for three homers as the Bruins won the Class 3A state softball opening-round game.

Everett’s Ndayiragije claims Class 3A boys high jump title

The favorite cleared 6-8 to highlight locals on day one of the track and field championships.

Jacob Rohde surveys the area at Everett Golf & Country Club during last year’s final round of the Snohomish County Amateur golf tournament. The three-time champion is among this year’s favorites. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
It’s out with the old, in with the new at the County Am

The 93rd Snohomish County Amateur golf tournament takes place Saturday through Monday.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.