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Seahawks unable to finish strong

Scott M. Johnson Everett Herald

For a franchise that has won just three division titles and seen only 10 postseason games in its 29-year history, the 2004 season should have been considered a success.

A 9-7 record, an NFC West championship and a second consecutive trip to the postseason are accomplishments that the Seattle Seahawks don’t often attain.

Yet the 2004 season was anything but a success.

High expectations went unfulfilled. A budding offense never bloomed. A league-leading defense dropped off so quickly you’d have thought John Lynch delivered the hit.

As it has in almost every other Seahawks season, optimism was quickly replaced by a sense of here-they-go-again.

By all accounts, everything fell apart during the fourth quarter of an Oct. 10 loss to St. Louis, when the Rams rallied for 17 points in the final 5 1/2 minutes of regulation before winning in overtime. Things got worse the next week, when prized free agent Grant Wistrom got hurt and rumors first started to surface about the four-game suspension or wide receiver Koren Robinson.

Those were mile markers on the road to nowhere, but the trip had plenty of other bumps in the road.

Injuries, inconsistency and late-game meltdowns plagued this team all season. Dropped passes, a disappearing pass rush and missed tackles added to the headaches.

And underneath the surface, there were deeper problems.

“We have a lot of holes on this team,” running back Shaun Alexander said Sunday, the day after the season ended with a 27-20 playoff loss to St. Louis. “It’s one of those things where we’ve known it for a while.”

Personnel holes. And personality holes.

“I think that we need to become more mentally tough,” defensive end Grant Wistrom said. “We need to figure out a way to finish teams off in the fourth quarter.”

Those are the kinds of problems that even Paul Allen’s billions can’t solve. And Wistrom wasn’t finished.

“A lot of players love playing football,” he said, “but (some Seahawks) need to make it their focus. They need to go out there and prepare like it is your job.”

In a nutshell, this Seahawks team never seemed to be on the same page. It never came together like so many so-called experts predicted. While 17 unrestricted free agents leave the team needing to make a lot of personnel decisions, it’s a team that also might need a personality makeover.

The questions for Allen, team president Bob Whitsitt and general manager Bob Ferguson over the coming days will be how much of the blame is on head coach Mike Holmgren, how much had to do with the assistant coaches and how much responsibility the players had in the underachieving season.

Holmgren will address the media in a 2 p.m. end-of-the-season press conference today.

Hawks fire Michaels

The Seahawks fired special teams coach Mark Michaels on Monday. His unit ranked in the bottom half of the league in several categories. Michaels was in his first year as special teams coach after assisting Pete Rodriguez the previous three years.

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