This Jordan Babineaux move reminded me of another one Seattle made several years ago, also after six games. Back when the Hawks gave up big plays out of habit (think 2000), coaches benched Reggie Tongue in favor of Kerry Joseph. The parallels are obvious to me. Tongue was a second-round pick (58th overall). Michael Boulware, the man Babineaux is replacing, was a second-rounder (53rd overall). Babineaux was an undrafted free agent from Division II Southern Arkansas. Joseph was an undrafted free agent from Division I-AA McNeese State. The similarities stop there. That 2000 Seattle defense went out the next week and allowed 498 yards during a loss to Indianapolis at Husky Stadium. This Seattle defense is much better all the way around. Those of you into pain can read my 2000 Joseph-for-Tongue story below. One other funny note: In addition to the Tongue benching, Holmgren also made a move on the offensive line that week. He benched RT Todd Weiner in favor of Chris McIntosh.
KIRKLAND – In a move intended to “spark” a Seattle Seahawks secondary that has been all too flammable this season, coach Mike Holmgren announced Wednesday that $13 million strong safety Reggie Tongue has been benched in favor of versatile backup Kerry Joseph.
The move came four days after Tongue’s predecessor, Darryl Williams, returned an interception for a touchdown as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Joseph nearly replicated that feat Sunday during the Seahawks’ 26-3 loss to Carolina, only to drop an errant pass from Panthers quarterback Steve Beuerlein.
Tongue, who received a five-year, $13 million contract upon signing with Seattle as a free agent in February, criticized the move as unfair.
“I thought I was busting my (tail) and I thought I was doing what I was asked to do, but for whatever reason, I guess I’m being held accountable,” he said. “I just don’t like being played with.”
Holmgren cautioned that the move was not expected to be permanent.
“Let’s just say that we’re trying to get a spark going on both sides of the football,” Holmgren said. “We’re just trying to shake the troops up a little bit and see if we can get the right combination in there.”
The Seahawks are 2-4 and their defense ranks below all but three teams in terms of yardage allowed. The pass defense has allowed big plays all season.
And while Tongue is the only starting defensive back without an interception this season, it is not uncommon for strong safeties to have fewer interceptions than cornerbacks and free safeties.
“It’s not tackling or effort,” Holmgren said. “It’s the calls, learning a new system. And right now I think it’s safe to say Kerry knows it better. I don’t expect this to be a permanent thing.”
Tongue ranks sixth on the team with 27 tackles. He has four passes defensed and one forced fumble.
“I think I’ve done OK,” Tongue said. “I’m by no means saying I’ve been playing the best on the defense. I don’t think that at all. I’ve made some mistakes.
“But everybody makes mistakes and for whatever reason, I make one and it’s a bigger deal.”
Joseph, who entered the league as the Bengals’ third-string quarterback in 1996, was grateful for the promotion. He started four games at safety last season when Williams was injured, and he finished the season with three interceptions.
The Seahawks signed Tongue because they viewed Joseph as a versatile backup.
“I wanted it sooner, but I was being patient,” Joseph said. “I worked hard this off-season and just continued to work and work, and just humbled myself and just continued to work hard and be patient.
“Sooner or later, your opportunity is going to come. That’s all you can ask for in life is a chance. Once you get your chance, you’ve got to take advantage of it.”
In another lineup change, Holmgren confirmed that first-round draft choice Chris McIntosh will make his first NFL start Sunday, replacing Todd Weiner, who will serve as a backup at left guard and three other positions along the line.