Mike Holmgren joined Dave Mahler in Seattle this morning.
DM: I was worried about you last week. I’m reading all these articles on the internet that Mike Holmgren’s ticked off. Mike Holmgren’s mad. Mike Holmgren’s angry about the way the RG3 thing went down in the trade between the Redskins and the Rams. I was concerned about you, pal.
MH: (Joking) Well I really do appreciate your feelings about that, but no, I’m O.K. That, as happens on occasion with the media, was overstated just a little bit.
DM: Did it really? If you can, try to fill us in a little bit. I think the way everybody read it is that “Mike Holmgren’s ticked off because the Redskins and Rams have some pals in their front office. And that’s why that deal went down while we were offering just as good a deal if not better. Is that fair, or is that complete nonsense?
MH: Well, no I think there are parts of it… We were involved in discussions. Let’s put it that way. You know, and I thought we had enough bullet in the gun to perhaps make a run at that but it turned out we didn’t. So, I think trades are like games, you know. I mean you get competitive with it. At the time, we were kind of fired up about it. We were disappointed. Then you go on to plan B or plan C. That’s what happens in trades. That’s what happens in the draft. The one thing I’ve learned over the years, David, is that you can’t get so excited about a single transaction or a single draft pick or your position in the draft. Sometimes that guy doesn’t fall to you. Sometimes you don’t get him. If you let it bother you too much then you can’t regroup and do what you have to do after that.
DM: I don’t know if worry is the right word, but do you get concerned or do you have to address the guy that you still have there. A story like that gets out where clearly the Browns were trying to move up to get the number two pick and go after Robert Griffin III. And it doesn’t happen. Do you worry about the reaction of the guy you have there now in Colt McCoy.
MH: I really don’t. I think he’s a competitive guy. He understands this business. He and I had a really good talk before he left in the off-season. And he knew there was going to be competition coming into this next off-season and next training camp. I think if you’re just honest with him, then they’ll be able to handle most things. Is there a little side to any of the players that gets touched by something like that? In all honesty, there probably is. But, you know what? It’s a business and you gotta bounce back. And how you bounce back determines what kind of a guy you are. You remember when we got Matt (Hasselbeck) years ago. And then we didn’t start off so great and then I had to stick Dilfer in there and Matt didn’t like that very much. But it was part of the deal and he responded beautifully and became the player we all thought he could be. That’s the way most of these guys who are real pros handle it.
DM: No question about it. It does change, as you know, from player to player. You would think that’s the way it is for everybody, but sometimes it’s not. And the reason why I bring it up as well is not just to talk about Colt, but now we have this story that came out this morning with Peyton Manning going to go play for the Denver Broncos… What was your take on the news that Peyton Manning was going to be a Bronco?
MH: It didn’t surprise me. I think the teams that were involved in that all put their best foot forward and thought about it a lot, trying to get Peyton to come there. But, he was only going to go to one place. If you were involved in that, you had to talk about that possibility of not getting him. Like I said earlier, life has to go on, because you don’t just take your ball and go home. He’s a wonderful player and Denver’s better right away. He’s a great player.
DM: They were a playoff team without him last year, Mike. Are they a Super Bowl contender with him?
MH: That’s hard to say Dave, because one guy can’t do it all by himself. But, you saw when he could not play last year what happened to a very proud Indianapolis group that had been very, very good for many years. So, he’s pretty important. You’re not going to go after a Peyton Manning at this stage of his career without the idea that this is why we’re doing it. You know, we’ re going for the whole deal.
DM: Let me ask you about a guy that the Seahawks just signed… The name Matt Flynn…
MH: Well I think most teams that were out this off-season determining their quarterback situation. Clearly the Seahawks did that and Matt Flynn was one of the guys out there, like Peyton, who was out there and had played pretty well. Quite well, as a matter of fact. (chuckling) I believe he holds the passing record for a team that’s had some pretty wonderful players. So, he became a pretty attractive candidate. When given the chance last year he had a really wonderful game against the Lions. It’s part of what every team does. Now that it’s done you have to roll up your sleeves and actually do it. I think any team that goes into a situation like that has thought it through not unlike the time we signed Matt (Hasselbeck) in Seattle.
DM: You brought Matt here and obviously you had the luxury of drafting him and watching him work out in Green Bay. John Snyder and Pete Carroll didn’t have that luxury. They did have the luxury of two games of actual game time… How about you? Was that just not enough for you to see of Matt Flynn and what do you need when analyzing a quarterback?
MH: The thing is that Matt (Hasselbeck) didn’t get to play a lot in regular season games, but we did have him for a full season and we did draft him. We knew him as well as you could know any player in that position, kinda learning and following in Brett’s (Favre) footsteps. But anyone who makes a decision like that one, you’re not always going to get, in fact, rarely do you get it spelled out where like when Peyton Manning goes to Denver, everyone in the world knows about Peyton Manning. Rarely do you get that opportunity. Sometimes you get into these situations where you feel you need a quarterback, that you just evaluate it the best way that you can, not unlike the draft, and then you pull the trigger. And then you make it work. I think the biggest thing that any team – not speaking specifically of Seattle now or any particular player – but any team, and you’ve heard me say this before. Once you decide that he’s your guy – once you decide that that’s the direction you want to go – then it’s pretty important that you commit. You say, “O.K we’re going to get through the tough stuff together. We know there’s going to be some learning curve and some struggles. But that’s O.K. If you believe in the person, and then that gives that guy confidence that he believes in you and you start developing the trust you need.
DM: Did you guys in Cleveland consider Matt Flynn at all?
MH: We did our due diligence and looked at – I’ll guess, including the draft, we probably looked at 10 or 12 quarterbacks. Maybe even more. Matt was one of them, yeah.
DM: Going back to the draft now, for you. Is Mike now happy with Colt McCoy. Do you think you’ll try to draft a quarterback or do you feel comfortable coming back with Colt McCoy even after trying to move up?
MH: Listen, and I want to make something pretty clear. I might as well do it on your show seeing as it’s beamed all over the world. (chuckling) I like Colt McCoy as a player. I think he’s a fine player and has a chance to be a fine player in this league. Last year I thought one, he got beat up pretty good. We didn’t protect him quite as well. I thought our running game after Peyton Hillis got hurt wasn’t helping him enough in my opinion. And then we had the lockout. So you had a new coach, new system, new quarterbacks. You put all that together and I think it was a little bit of a short deck. So, I’m not down on Colt McCoy at all. But I will always – and as long as I’m in a position like this – we are always going to look for quarterbacks. Make that pile a little bit bigger. Try to create some competition. To try and bring the best out of the people you already have. I know Colt as a person. He’ll respond as well as anyone in the world to this. I’m not down on Colt. He can play.