• Transcript of Mora press conference
RENTON – How much respect does Jim Mora have for the man he’s replacing, Mike Holmgren? Even though he’s been on the job for two weeks, Mora hasn’t even parked in his new space at the team’s headquarters, nor tested out the cushy, black chair in the office reserved for the head coach.
But after hosting his first press conference Tuesday morning as the Seattle Seahawks head coach, Mora will get a chance to test out the perks that come along with the job.
Just don’t expect him to be a Holmgren clone.
“While I’ve learned great lessons from Mike that I’ll apply as I move forward, I think the important thing is that I’m true to my core values,” Mora said. “My beliefs, and my passions. And that’s what I intend to do.”
After speaking in a reserved tone to begin the hour-long question-and-answer session, Mora warmed up as time wore on and became more animated, showing the energy and enthusiasm that attracted Seahawks team president and general manager Tim Ruskell to make Mora the team’s seventh head coach a year ago.
A University of Washington graduate, Mora envisioned regaining control of the NFC West from the Arizona Cardinals, winning a Super Bowl and hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in a celebratory parade that begins at the Space Needle and ends at Qwest Field.
“Today, we pass the torch from Mike Holmgren to Jim Mora,” Ruskell said in his opening remarks, “with high expectations in the belief that Jim’s going to carry on the legacy that Mike established in his last 10 years as head coach. And we believe that Jim is the perfect fit to do just that.”
Mora promised a team that plays with “relentless effort” in returning the Seahawks to a playoff-caliber team. And he has hired promising, motivated young coaches to infuse the Seahawks with the effort, attitude and enthusiasm that he believes will help change the team’s fortunes for the better.
At the top of that list is Gus Bradley, 43, the team’s new defensive coordinator who Mora hired from Tampa Bay, where Bradley served as linebackers coach. Mora said he spent 15 consecutive hours bonding with Bradley during his interview and came away impressed with Bradley’s overall knowledge of the game. Bradley also came highly recommended by ex-Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin as a once-in-a-lifetime coach destined to be a head coach in the league.
“Through the course of the day I realized Monte was dead on,” Mora said about Bradley. “This guy’s special.”
Along with bringing in Greg Knapp as the team’s offensive coordinator from Oakland, Mora also has hired young guns in Dan Quinn (39 years old) from the New York Jets as the team’s assistant head coach/defensive line coach and Robert Prince (43) from Jacksonville as Seattle’s wide receiver coach. He is still searching for a secondary coach to complete his staff.
Mora retained 12 coaches from Holmgren’s staff. However, offensive coordinator Gil Haskell, defensive coordinator John Marshall, defensive line coach Dwaine Board and receivers coach Keith Gilbertson were released by Mora. Tight ends coach Jim Lind and assistant special teams coach John Jamison retired.
Along with adding youth to the coaching staff, Mora said the transition has been made easier because he’s already been with the team for two years and knows Seattle’s personnel situation, enhancing his ability to put players in positions where they can succeed.
“Had I not been here the past two years, I wouldn’t have that knowledge of our players,” Mora said. “And that’s very important as we move forward because I don’t think it’s important or necessary to come in and wipe the slate clean.”
Offensively, Mora said the Seahawks will run the ball more, and that he believes winning teams have to run the ball well, particularly on the road. Seattle will have a balanced attack, Mora said, and Matt Hasselbeck will be given some freedom to make plays within the new offensive system established by Knapp.
“He’s our quarterback and I’m very excited about that,” Mora said. “Matt is a special player. He’s a special man. And he gives us a ton of flexibility. The most important thing for us now is that Matt get and stay healthy.”
On the defensive side, Mora said his team will count on improved coaching, and playing with more of an aggressive attitude to improve a defense that ranked 30th in the league in total yardage given up. Mora stressed he’ll put a team on the field that is fundamentally sound. And though Mora likes to play an aggressive, attacking defense, he also said the team expects improved play from the Seahawks’ front four to get consistent pressure on the quarterback without relying on the blitz.
Mora said he’ll be very involved in the defense, but hasn’t divulged who will handle play-calling duties.
“Our defense is going to play on their toes,” Mora said. “They’re going to play in your face. They’re going to play with energy. They’re going to play with passion. They’re going to play with relentless effort. They’re going to be situationally smart. They’re going to make you proud. They’re going to make our fans proud.”