Seahawks notebook: Holmgren not letting team quit now

RENTON — For Mike Holmgren, the Xs and O’s are vital to pulling the Seattle Seahawks from their struggles. And then there are the XOXOXO’s.

Maybe not to that extreme, but the Seahawks’ coach said Monday that it’s important for him and the coaches to deliver a positive, supportive message to a team that hasn’t experienced much to love this year.

“They’re going to watch how I act, how I respond,” Holmgren said. “They’re going to watch the coaches, they’re going to watch each other.

“We have to make sure that when we go through tough times, that we’re consistent in how we treat each other, that we continue to respect one another. It’s important that we continue to have confidence to rely on. That will be my message this week.”

Holmgren said he hasn’t been through a stretch like this — when injuries and ineffectiveness rendered his team uncompetitive — since he was a high school coach at Sacred Heart in San Francisco in the 1970s.

“This reminds me of my first year coaching at Sacred Heart. We were over-matched all the time,” he said. “The kids gave you everything they had and I loved them for it, but you knew it was going to be tough each week.”

Holmgren admitted he was exaggerating, but the message was clear. The Seahawks are trying, but they’ve reached a point where the season will be lost if they don’t turn it around quickly — if that’s even possible.

“Every year you see teams that kind of get it together and make it interesting at the end,” Holmgren said. “That’s how I choose to look at it. Everyone is disappointed. But you’re not going to quit and you’re not going to cash it in and start thinking about next year.”

Holmgren said he hasn’t seen signs of that, but he did hear about what he called “sideline frustration” during Sunday night’s loss.

“There was a little frustration on the sideline yesterday, and understandably so,” he said. “I’ve got to talk to the team about how we handle ourselves in this situation again. We’re not the first team to go through a time like this. How we handle it is important.”

Tatupu fine: Holmgren said linebacker Lofa Tatupu should be OK after he suffered a concussion in the second quarter of Sunday night’s game.

“He came out of the concussion the way the medical people would like to see him come out of it,” Holmgren said. “I talked to him right after the game and he was feeling much better.”

Tatupu was hurt on the play that knocked Buccaneers receiver Ike Hilliard unconscious. Hilliard had caught a pass inside the Seahawks’ 5-yard-line when he was hit hard by linebacker Leroy Hill.

Tough lessons for young DBs: The Seahawks were burned again by big pass plays Sunday, and Holmgren called it part of the continuing education for his young cornerbacks. Two who’ve suffered in particular are Kelly Jennings, in his fourth season, and Josh Wilson, in his third.

“The young guys playing in the secondary, you kind of know they’re going to take their hits in there,” Holmgren said. “You just keep with them and hang in there. You don’t have a lot of choices. There aren’t a lot of corners floating around. In Kelly’s case and Josh’s case, they just have to keep working to improve their techniques, and with experience they get better.”

It’s also not entirely their fault. Holmgren noted that the Buccaneers’ first touchdown, Antonio Bryant’s 47-yard catch over Jennings in the first quarter, came while the Seahawks had called a blitz.

“When we call a blitz, we have to get home (get to the quarterback),” he said. “That’s putting the guys back there on an island, and we’ve been victimized a couple of times by that this season.”

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