Mike Holmgren meets with us on Wednesdays, then meets with the other team's reporters. This is a transcript of his meeting with the writers from Charlotte:
On the Seahawks five-game winning streak: I felt we had a good football team in the first half of the season that played very inconsistently, and there wasn't just one thing you could put your finger on. Each phase of the game, offense, defense and special teams, took their time in the barrel so to speak. It kind of coincided with Shaun Alexander getting hurt a little, and we got our receivers back who had been hurt, (Deion) Branch and (D.J.) Hackett. I said, 'We're going to change this a little bit and kind of simplify some things. Maybe change the emphasis slightly and pass the ball a little bit more." The guys just started playing better and we started making fewer mistakes. It happens. We won a couple real close games on the road, and you gain momentum from wins like that to where it just happens to the point where now they have a much better feeling about themselves. I think that's the key in this business, and we're relatively healthy now. You put all of that together and you can play some better football.
On if he plans on resting players at this point in the season with the NFC West clinched: I told my team this morning and my press just now, as far as we care about nothing has changed. We're still going to go after it hard and we're not sitting anybody down. We still have some things that are obtainable that would help us in the playoffs. Until those things are not there, I am not even going to consider anything like that. In the past I have done it different ways. Two years ago there was nothing left to play for (because) we had already clinched everything, so I rested them. Typically, I have not done that, and we just play the games. I think the regular season games, every single one of them, are very important. The guys' feeling after a win and how you use that in the next week, I don't think it can be discounted. That's a big deal, so we're going to go after it hard.
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On keeping the team's schedule the same when traveling to the East Coast: We're coming in Friday, and it is a three-hour time change so that was never a question. What I was debating was when to practice to see if I could tie it in a little bit with the time in Seattle. I had one of my able assistants put together another schedule dealing with all of that. After I looked through the schedule, there was such a domino effect on everything. Meetings, meals, there was a domino effect on too many things. The more I thought about it, we have won games on the road and we have won games on the East Coast. When I was in San Francisco, we had the same situation. What it boils down to is how you're playing the game on that particular day, (because) you are still in an opponent's stadium, which is hard. It's hard whether we're flying down to Oakland or we're flying across the country. That's no excuse, so I said, "We're not changing anything." We've got to gear-up and get going on Sunday. They responded pretty well when we went into Philly and St. Louis the last two times.
On Seahawks defensive end Patrick Kerney, who has 13.5 sacks: Our resurgence is really tied into what Patrick has done in the second half of the year in these last five games. His sack totals are way up, but he is so much more than just that. His energy and how he plays the game is contagious. We lost Grant Wistrom, he retired last year, and he was that type of player for us. A little undersized maybe but just relentless, a great team guy, great person, and he has become quite a leader on this team in his own way. He's not a real vocal guy, but you get sacks and they are momentum changing plays in games. He's cranked up and in the past few games he's played as good as you can play at that position I think.
On how the Panthers have changed since 2005 NFC Championship: We have tremendous respect for Carolina, their coaches and the job they do. I know expectations were high coming into this season, as they should be. On paper it was a good football team, but as is the case in this business some teams get hit with injuries, and I think if you lose your quarterback it just becomes a lot harder in all areas. If you have injuries after that, we went through that last year a little bit. We were fortunate enough to pull out of it at the end and also get into the championship game. It's just hard and that's the number one thing. I think the fans in Carolina can continue to believe in their football team. When they are healthy, they are as strong and as physical as anybody. But having said that, we know we have to play our best football. It's a road game. Like I said, we have tremendous respect for the job that they do. We've got to get geared up and finish the season properly.
On if injuries have played a part in Carolina's coaching staff being criticized: I don't know. I would not comment on any other coaching situations. I know John (Fox). He's a friend of mine and he's a great football coach and a very good motivator. He just does what he does and he does it well. Those types of decisions, for all of us, aren't in our hands anymore. He's a good coach. I'll leave it at that.
On if believes that it takes three years for a young quarterback to develop: That's a time frame I always thought was reasonable. If you have a quarterback, you believe in the quarterback and he has a chance to play, not sit on the bench and watch, but play. I know there are a lot of theories of how to do that. By the third year if he has a chance to play a lot of football for two years and the coach can survive the bumps in the road, by the third year he should have a real good grasp of your offense and the speed of the NFL. If you are dealing with a young guy, you should be able at that point to say, "Yeah, this is the guy who can get us there," or "No, I don't think he is." I think that's enough time. If he can't do it in that time frame it's been my experience that you have to look somewhere else.