The honeymoon in Seattle for Mike Holmgren is over. Expectations Holmgren would do in Seattle what he did in Green Bay have been replaced by boos and fan unrest.
Holmgren traded with Green Bay for quarterback Matt Hasselbeck last spring, after allowing the Bengals to sign Jon Kitna in free agency. Two games into this season, Hasselbeck had yet to lead the Seahawks to a touchdown, while Kitna was 2-0 as the Bengals' starting quarterback.
Dissent officially began as the Seahawks left the field at the end of the first half of the team's home-opener two Sundays ago. Fans began booing an offensive performance that would result in the Seahawks' second consecutive game without having scored a touchdown. Then, the fans in two-thirds-full Husky Stadium turned their frustrations toward Hasselbeck, hurling insults at him and the Seahawks sideline and chanting "Dil-fer, Dil-fer" in the third quarter.
It began a week of tension in Seattle.
"I alone will make that decision, not the crowd. These first games are a little early to make rash judgements," Holmgren told reporters.
This Sunday, the Seahawks (1-2) will host the Jaguars (2-1) in a game the Seattle team must win, if it is to salvage whatever confidence remains in Holmgren's ability to make the Seahawks a winner. Three years ago, when Holmgren was hired away from the Packers, it was a foregone conclusion the Seahawks would become a playoff fixture. That hasn't happened.
"I haven't lost confidence in Matt one little bit, and neither have his teammates. And he hasn't lost confidence in his ability to play, either," Holmgren said in a vote of confidence.
Nevertheless, it's panic time in Seattle, following last year's 6-10 disappointment and this year's 1-2 start, which includes a 38-14 loss in Oakland this past Sunday. Attendance is sagging and so is belief Holmgren can get the job done.
The situation at quarterback is tied to all of those issues. The Seahawks need for someone to establish himself as a quarterback who can execute Holmgren's offense. In Green Bay, Holmgren had Brett Favre. In Seattle, Holmgren has only had candidates.
Holmgren made a bold decision when he traded for Hasselbeck, a third-year pro whose previous NFL experience included 13 completions in 29 pass attempts for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Holmgren was entrusting the future of his team to a quarterback with almost no NFL experience.
This summer, Holmgren signed Trent Dilfer, who quarterbacked the Baltimore Ravens to last season's Super Bowl title. That might sound good, but Dilfer is hardly the Seahawks' future at the position. If Hasselbeck isn't that player, some wonder if Holmgren will be the Seahawks' coach of the future.
"I said this in front of the football players to the coaches: 'You are accountable for your position. No one's to leave this building today without understanding what went wrong, being honest about what went wrong and coming up with some solution to try and fix it,'" Holmgren told reporters the day after the Seahawks' 27-3 loss to the Eagles.
Hasselbeck admitted his culpability. "I take the blame. I have to play better if we're going to win," he said.
This Sunday's game could produce a most dangerous environment for the Jaguars, who will be making their first-ever trip to the Pacific Northwest. In Seattle, the Jaguars will find a Seahawks team with its back to the wall. The Jaguars may find a desperate opponent playing in front of an angry crowd.
"I was watching the film this morning and booing it myself in my own little room," Holmgren said in an attempt at humor.
Seahawks fans don't want humor. They want wins.