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Seattle perfect opponent for rested Jaguars?


They were everybody's sleeper team last season, largely the result of the reputation coach Mike Holmgren brought with him from Green Bay. A year-and-a-half later, the Seattle Seahawks are not the up-and-coming team everybody thought they would be, and some are even wondering who should get the credit for the Packers' success in the 1990's, Holmgren or General Manager Ron Wolf?

Holmgren and his Seahawks have suffered a complete fall from favor since the middle of last season, when the Seahawks were 8-2 and looking like a power team of the future. Since then, the Seahawks are 4-13, which includes a playoff loss to Miami.

This Sunday, the Jaguars (3-6) host the Seahawks (3-7) in a game that'll kick off the Jaguars' push for a fifth consecutive winning record. For the Seahawks, the remainder of the season will be dedicated to making a decision at quarterback, the mainstay of Holmgren's high-tech offensive design.

"Getting the guy to play that position, whoever it is, means so much to your football team. Rest assured, it will get the attention it deserves," Holmgren said.

Brock Huard had replaced Jon Kitna as the Seahawks' starting quarterback, but Huard suffered a concussion against the Raiders on Oct. 22, and that put Kitna back under center. Holmgren is thought to have already decided Kitna is not the Seahawks' future at the position, and wants to use the rest of the season to make a decision on Huard, but Huard is listed as "questionable" for this Sunday's game and Kitna is likely to remain the starter.

"Could it muddy the waters just a bit at the end of the year?" Holmgren asked in reference to the playing time Huard has lost. "Yes, because if I don't feel I have an answer, then obviously we have to expend a lot of energy, maybe go in a different direction than maybe we would have had to if he could play," Holmgren added.

In the Seahawks' 24-19 loss to the Chiefs on Oct. 29, Kitna completed 26 of 42 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw three interceptions. Most recently, Kitna led the Seahawks to a final-seconds, 17-15 win over winless San Diego.

Huard's performance hasn't been much better than Kitna's. Huard's passer rating was slightly higher than Kitna's through week nine of the season, though his interception percentage was significantly lower.

Alright, the Seahawks have a problem at quarterback, a lot of teams do, but what's wrong with that defense? Through week nine, the Seahawks defense was 30th in the league, and that's most perplexing considering the high-priced talent: Chad Brown, Michael Sinclair, Cortez Kennedy, Shawn Springs, Willie Williams and Anthony Simmons.

"There are a lot of things that go into not playing as well as you'd like to, and it basically comes down to two things, not coaching it well enough and not getting it executed. I know that sounds a little too general, but that's what it is," defensive coordinator Steve Sidwell said.

Fourteen times in nine games the Seahawks had allowed an opponent to pass for 300 yards or reach 100 yards in rushing or receiving. Four times the Seahawks had allowed an opponent at least 400 total yards. Three opponents had scored at least 30 points, and three times opponents had rushed for at least 180 yards. Those figures were through nine games.

Want more? Well, the Seahawks had allowed 19 plays of 25 or more yards, and 15 scoring drives of at least 70 yards. The Seahawks had created just seven turnovers, the fewest in the league, and had only 13 sacks (the league average was 18.4).

Also, Edgerrin James rushed for 219 yards against the Seahawks, Tyrone Wheatley for 156, Ricky Williams 107, Lamar Smith 145 and Tim Biakabutuka 103.

The situation wasn't all bad when the Seahawks began October. They were 2-2 and held a 17-7 lead in the third quarter of a Monday night game in Kansas City. The Chiefs rallied to win that game, and from that point in the third quarter through week nine, the Seahawks were outscored 111-30 in losing four straight.

The bye-rested Jaguars offense, depleted and beleaguered for most of the season, should have its way with the Seahawks defense. This would seem to be a perfect opponent for the Jaguars to begin their seven-game finishing kick.

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