Transcript of Mike Holmgren's press conference:
On the motivation for Sunday's game:
"Once you have clinched everything that's possible to clinch, then it boils down to the most basic fundamental thing that you talk about with every player that you have. Is that, when I'm on the field how do I play? I really don't believe that any of the football players that I've ever known, line up – whether you're rushing the passer, going out for a pass, you're the quarterback – and in their mind, at that particular time, they're thinking, 'Now, if I complete this pass we could be the third seed in the playoffs.'
"I don't think that ever happens. I think they go in there and they're playing football. They're playing football and they're doing the best they can. Because that's how they've been raised, that's how they practice, that's who they are. So as far as motivation goes, there's not a lot I can say or do this week, I don't think. It's up to the players as individuals on how they're going to play.
"I'm going to push them hard, just like I always do, and I'm going to go at the game hard and try to set an example that way. But as far as the players themselves, it's very much an individual thing on how they want to be viewed. Our guys, we have a pretty professional group."
How did the players react to your play-hard decision?
:Absolutely they want to play. Look it, playing the games on Sunday, that's the fun part. Now they might want to scoot out of practice or two, but playing the games, they want to play. You probably could talk to 10 different coaches, or 10 different executives, maybe 10 different television commentators, and get a 50-50 split on what you should do. Like I said, the last time I did it with any sort of wholesale change was in Green Bay a couple years ago, we were able to keep guys healthy, but that particular Sunday wasn't much fun."
On the problems the Falcons have had this year:
"The feeling of having a high level of expectations prior to the season starting and then having it not work out they way you want to, for some things that appear to be out of anybody's control, I just think that would be a horrible situation to be in. As a player, as a coach, as an owner… I know the people down there, they work hard at it, and it's hard."
On a coach leaving before the season was finished like Atlanta's Bobby Petrino did:
"That was a little different. I am not going to cast judgment on that because I don't know all the ins and outs or things there. All I can say that as bad … For me, I couldn't do that. If I ever reached the point to where it was as hard as it appeared to be, you just got to say, 'Hey…' You can't. I couldn't do it. It wouldn't be any fun, though. But I couldn't do it."
After Darrell Jackson was traded you had concerns about the receivers. What about now:
"I was concerned, and I had mentioned that. Darrell always had really
good numbers _ almost always. Lot of touchdowns. So I was going, 'Where are we going to get those?' First of all, Matt has had a good year, so far. Bobby's caught a lot more passes than he normally does. Hackett's stepped up a little bit. We've kind of made do. Branch got hurt, Burleson stepped up. They've all kind of stepped up their game a little bit. And then as much as any single thing, I think our drops are way down. They are catching the ball, for the most part. That's something that in the past few years _ and it wasn't just Darrell _ but in the last few years kind of got us a few times. And this year, if you think about it, doesn't happen very much. That's made a lot of difference."
Having gone back to Green Bay after coaching the Packers, what will it be like for Jim Mora to return to Atlana?
"Well, circumstances are different. Knowing Jim like I know him, and some of you know him even better than I do, he's very much looking to the game. But without overstating it, I believe he's moved on now and he's having fun coaching this year. I believe he's glad he's in Seattle. Would he still like to be a head coach? Yeah, certainly. That's obvious. But now he's moving forward."