Seahawks Insider

Interview with Walter Jones

Post by News Tribune Staff on Oct. 4, 2007 at 1:15 pm with 44 Comments »
October 4, 2007 1:15 pm

I am working on a story on the running game for Friday’s paper and interviewed a number of people on the topic. Here is the interview I conducted with Walter Jones:


Mike (Holmgren) said this morning that he jumped on you guys pretty good about the run blocking. What do you have to do to improve the run blocking? Just keep working, man. One of those things where you just have to stick with it. We are still learning and just continue to keep working. I think Shaun is still trying to learn some of the guys. Just keep working.



How close are you to where you want to be? I think we are close. We just have to get going faster. We are close. The thing about it we are winning. If we were losing, you could probably look at some things. But you just keep on working on the things we know well and hopefully things will get better as the season goes along.


You would think that if you are struggling with the run blocking, you likewise would be struggling with the pass blocking. But instead you are doing well in pass blocking. Why the disparity? I don’t know. I think teams are gearing up for the run. They know we have 3-7 back there and their goal is to stop 3-7. They have been successful with that. So we are happy to sit back there and throw it. With the talent we have at wide receiver and quarterback, he can sit back there and if we give him time he can find those guys. Basically that is what we’ve been doing, giving him time to throw the ball.


Does this game have any additional meaning because of what happened in the Super Bowl in 05? None at all. This is a new season. A new team. Everybody is trying to get to the Super Bowl this year. That is the approach we are trying to take, go down there and get a win.


I think among fans there is the feeling that we really don’t like the Steelers. But with the players, is there more a feeling of we were affected by the officiating, not the Steelers? The game was decided by outside factors? I just don’t have no comment on that. I don’t know. I know we have to get prepare for the Steelers this week. It is going to be a tough crowd and we have to come out with a victory.


How do you get prepared for a team with a good run defense like the Steelers? Or do you feel that as long as you do what you are supposed to do, it doesn’t matter who is in front of you? I think so. But they are good. It ain’t all about that. It is about who is in the right spot. And the way they play their defense, they are going to be in the right spot. You can’t make no mistakes. So you have to constantly stay with what you are going to do and in the end it is going to be who makes the least mistakes. It is going to be a game like that. They play their defense pretty well.


How do you prepare differently to face the 3-4? It is just a matter of me as a tackle, you get a defensive end over your head all the time. That is what you want, especially in pass protection and sometimes in the runinng game. But they play it so well, they control their gaps. That is what that defense is for, to control the run gaps.

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  1. Good interview – he didn’t really bite on too many of your questions, but I guess you probably didn’t expect him too.

    I think it sounds like both teams are going to go in knowing that the other team isn’t going to roll over, that there will have to be lots of patience and execution of the game plan.

    Also, Frank, this was a little bit hard to read – maybe format the questions and answers a little differently next time?

  2. ross_hanratty2 says:

    I think the run blocking is a scape goat for the real problem which is a soft running back that can’t beat a defender through a gaping hole, and when he doesn’t see a hole, he falls over and tackles himself.

    Before all you naysayers jump on my case…I have recorded all 4 games so far and have watched each of alexander’s runs over and over, now i am know expert, but i have seen at least 4-5 occasions where there were gaping holes in the line and alexander gets beat FROM BEHIND and tackled.

    I have seen how he tiptoes behind the line looking for a hole and when it isn’t there, he just tackles himself.

    If you don’t believe me, compare Mo morris to Alexander. When mo gets the ball to the hole, he squares his shoulder pads and barrels into it with authority, looking for people to hit.

    The problem is not the line, it’s our soft running back.

  3. antediluvian says:

    OK…so if we have a “soft” running back, then of course the coach will call out the O-line publicly….because that’s such a good coaching technique.

    There is no way Holmgren calls out the O-line for missing assignments if he thinks the problem is Alexander. And let’s just say I have a wee but more confidence that Holmgren has a handle on the problems with the running game than how the average fan interprets problems with the running game.

  4. OtbBaby says:

    I cannot wait. Sunday is payback time. Regardless of the politically correct talk the Seahawks will enjoy smacking the Stealers. I cannot wait. Hawk and roll them.

  5. Anyone else noticed that Walt hasn’t looked even CLOSE to his dominant self so far this year? The pass protection has been pretty good on the whole this year, but I’ve seen more instances of guys getting by Jones in the first four games than I can remember in all of last year.

  6. pabuwal says:

    So what do you want, a RB who is completely beaten up like LT or LJ after the pounding they took the past few years? How about a RB who is completely washed up at the age of 30? How about a RB that decides to retire after 30 because he can’t take the pounding? How about a major salary cap hit when the Seahawks eat the guaranteed money?

    Over the past 10 years, RBs who won the rushing title with 350+ carries pretty much fell off a cliff after that. The list includes Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis, Ricky Williams, Jamal Lewis, Curtis Martin, Alexander, and Tomilson.

    If he can save himself, continue to produce and the team continue to win, where is the problem?

  7. seatowntp says:

    KHF, I hate to admit it, but I tend to agree. I don’t know if Walt is being nagged by an ongoing injury or if the physical abuse is beginning to take its’ toll. Regardless, he is not as overwhelmingly dominant as he once was.

  8. mingweezy says:

    Yeah, it’s hard to read, could you seperate the Q’s from the A’s a little bit. Thanks

  9. ross_hanratty2 says:

    Ante-

    Do you honestly expect holmgren to say “our running back is the problem” no the safest way to skate aroound the issue is to generically say “we have been missing some blocking assignments.” Then it’s blamed on an amorphous (sp?) “we” group of 5 offensive lineman, 2 wide receivers, and a full back. not singling out alexander and just saying, he needs to run with some authority, and when it’s 3rd and 1, don’t run 12 yards horizontal to the line of scrimmage and instead get his shoulders square and pound the ball forward.

  10. If he can save himself, continue to produce and the team continue to win, where is the problem?

    The problem I see is that while we are winning, except for SF, the margin is too thin. The AZ game never should have come down to a botched hand-off; if we had a running game we likely would have been ahead at that point anyway. Eventually the lack of a strong running game is going to catch up to us again.

    I suspect the problem is partly the OL – after all, we have 2 new guys on the line – and partly Alexander. He has always avoided contact but he seems to really avoid it this year. You can’t change the stripes on a zebra so Holmgren is probably concentrating on the part he can affect – the OL.

  11. Leroyhill says:

    If Alexander were the problem, I don’t expect Holmie to call him out at all because it does not project well for team image. I am sure the line has a lot to do with it, but Alexander is also a major culprit as well. Walter said if the team was losing, they could have done a couple things. I wonder what he meant by that? perhaps, benching someone? From the technique standpoint, I don’t know how it would matter if you’re losing or winning, right?

  12. PapaHawk says:

    If you look at the NFL stats you’ll find that Alexander is among the league leaders is carries and yards. So he isn’t that bad. Nor is his offensive line. They just aren’t consistent, especially in the first half. Holmgren does lie directly to the audience he is speaking with…there is a lot of truth in what he is saying. I’m sure he’d like to see more from Alexander, but is it the right time to lay into someone who is playing with a broken wrist?

    I’m sure that Holmgren and Stump Mitchell and making sure Shaun is doing well, and that the line is getting better. A breakout game WILL happen, just a matter of when.

  13. MaxwellEdison says:

    I’m so sick of people ragging on Alexander, saying that he’s soft (because you LOVED him in 2005 didn’t you?). Does he go down easy when there’s nothing there? Yes. Is that a good thing? Yes. What’s the point of being punished for a 1 yard or no yard gain? None.

    You aren’t soft when you rack up these stats:

    http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/AlexSh00.htm

    And you MAY NOTICE that when he gets inside the 20 he’s very willing to take the punishment to get the yards.

    Is he the best back in the league? No, but he’s better than all but 5 or 6 others and he’s extended his career greatly by not setting himself up to be pummeled for runs that aren’t going anywhere.

    I don’t remember Mo Morris (gotta love him cuz I’m a Duck) putting up Alexander like numbers when SA was out last year. He does hit the hole harder and that makes him a great change of pace.

  14. ross_hanratty2 says:

    No. In 2005 I was the one saying at the beginning of the year that we would see an amazing year from Alexander cause it was his payday year. He ran hard all year and had a stellar year. Then the following season, he gets a itty bitty crack in his foot and sits out half the season, and then somehow miraculously comes back to play even though the crack wasn’t healed.

    Then this year he cracks his itty bitty wrist and that’s his excuse for not being able to block, not being able to catch, and falling down with out being tackled.

  15. SupaFreak says:

    Mo is getting LESS YDS per carry than SA, even this year, and while he gets to the line faster, he doesn’t get through the hole faster, and goes down even easier once in the hole and hit. He also gets hit in the backfield just as much as SA, so the culprit on a lot of the no gains and losses this year IS the line letting defenders through, not the running backs.

  16. MaxwellEdison says:

    “No. In 2005 I was the one saying at the beginning of the year that we would see an amazing year from Alexander cause it was his payday year.”

    Yeah, so the other big years were flukes. And I’m sure you would hold up quite well with a cracked foot in an NFL game.

    Pathetic.

  17. pawleec says:

    maxwelledison, what you wrote just made the alexander bashers point. He is a different back within the 20 because he wants the glory of the TD’s,(which is good) BUT in the past he has had opportunities to win games by picking up a first down with a hard-nosed run at midfield and he fails. Of course you can’t bat a 1000 but he seems to bat a .975 at the goal line for a TD and a .400 for a 1st down at midfield.

  18. ross_hanratty2 says:

    exactly paw…

    i hate to be so riled up, but this week and the “our offensive line is missing blocking assignments” speech covering for our soft running back just drives me crazy.

  19. MaxwellEdison says:

    Sorry, “soft” running backs don’t gain: 1318, 1175, 1435, 1696, and 1880 yards in succesive years. Nice try.

    And the pathetic comments about his broken foot and broken wrist show you to be a hater and not much of a fan.

  20. agfishburne says:

    If Holmgren thinks the problem is 37, then he’ll mix 20 and 43 in more than you’ve seen in the past. If you see that, then you can start to say the problem is 37.

  21. aelliott11 says:

    Holmgren hasn’t had any problems airing out Shaun in the past. He’s more than comfortable calling Matt out when there’s a problem there, too. He’s not “covering” for someone by throwing an entire group under a bus. Do you have any idea how bad that would be for our offense? To put the blame on the line if it’s really all Shaun’s fault? Mike is smarter than that, too bad people here aren’t.

    Facts:
    1. LT, LJ, Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, and Shaun are all having problems getting going this year. Not just Shaun, all the top RBs.

    2. 1318, 1175, 1435, 1696, and 1880 yards. Any team would take that any time. Can’t argue this point. Can’t.

    3. Shaun is playing with a broken hand. Most of you would call in sick with a hangnail, so enough with the “soft” talk.

    4. Shaun does not run through tackles. That’s the kind of back he is. As Warren Moon pointed out this week, so was Barry Sanders.

    5. Our O-Line is not run blocking. The guy who tivo’d all four games and watched Shaun miss (gasp) 4 holes should go back and watch the run blocking. It’s not there.

  22. dmcclaran says:

    Exactley Aelliot11, good points all. It would seem that no NFL running back is really doing anything so far..defenses are commited to stopping the run at all cost. I just wish SA would quit loosing yards as opposed to 1 to 2 yards or even no gain!

  23. Been reading along for quite a while and very much so appreciate the blog we have here. I haven’t said anything really since last year but it seems the same old conversations are all starting to pop up again. Guys, its the o-line, not SA. His running style has drove me nuts for years all the way back to Ricky Waters, however, our o-line is just making stupid mistakes this year in only the running game. We have a waaaay better line this year than last year at this time. If you all remember Matt was getting killed game after game and it eventually caught up with the team. Just have some patience. Our coaches are not idiots and will fix whatever the problem is with the running game.

  24. DDP1983 says:

    Why do people hate on Shaun so much? Do you even realize what an honor it is to have a back like this on our team? Think about this… He is number 13 All-Time on the Touchdown List, ever! Only 12 players in NFL HISTORY have scored more touchdowns!!! Number 25 on the all time Rushing List. This doesn’t happen by accident, and anyone couldn’t do it behind our lines in the past. This took a lot of talent. Get off the guys back he’s done a lot already and he isn’t finished.

  25. hawks4372 says:

    Hopefully we can take Jonathan Stewart in the draft and send that 60 million dollar goofball that has zero toughness and even less pass catching and blocking ability back to Gigglesville, Kentucky. This isn’t even an argument. He’s slow and frightened to death of defensive players. His only asset is great vision and that just isn’t enough anymore. This week’s game will be a perfect example of Shaun’s inadequacies. The Steelers D is fast and mean, and Shaun will piss his pants in the first quarter. Ha- I mean, what other running back have you ever seen get knocked out from a blow to the back of the head during a run? Remember that? Kind of an important playoff against the Redskins. How did it happen? I’ll tell you- he curled up on the play into the fetal position- literally- which exposed the back of his head to a shot. Remember how happy he was on the sidelines, knowing he wasn’t having to get back in the game? I do. And so do you. Some of you just can’t take your rose-colored glasses off long enough to admit it. Now THAT’S pathetic.

  26. easley45 says:

    ddp1983
    Because he saves himself, when he supposed to hit the damn hole.

    Have you ever seen L.T or Edge, Or ANY of the top backs fold up like a chair when tackled. He supposed to break the damn tackle!!!!He’s 220-230 not 190.

    I’ve seen this chump fold up time and time again by cornerbacks! He should be running them over.

    That’s the reason we jumped all over the Leonard Weaver bandwagon. Cause that dude delivers the blow, he don’t take it like a chump.

    Watching that Bears game last year made me nautious, my entire family was praying that they would not give him the ball on 3rd or 4th and 1. Because as soon as contact is made there is basically 2% chance he will break the tackle.

  27. Offered as support for SA:

    Denver has historically had great running backs, right? I say wrong! They have had average Joe’s running behind great lines. But even that’s not quite true. The individual linemen aren’t that special, but are playing in a great running scheme and never seem to miss assignments. The same can be said of N.E.

    If Holmgren says the line is missing assignments I’ll believe him. I’ll also blame him and the O-Line coach for those failures. I don’t know if new NFL labor rules somehow prevent extended practices, if the new linemen are just dumb or lazy, if the position coach is out of touch or what, but other teams seem to get more production from lesser backs by running him behind better coached lines.

  28. bustinheads says:

    Easley – exactly how did you figure out that 2%? Inquiring minds would like to know — or for that matter anything close to 2%

  29. I just finished listening to the announcers on NFL network call Alexander soft. Go to any Redskins blog and you’ll read quotes from their players about how he faked his concussion during the playoff game two years ago. It’s not just Seahawks fans talking about this guys lack of guts. Everyone sees it. Some people are just more circumspect in how they broach the subject.

    If offensive linemen miss blocking assignments that’s one thing. If Shauna Alexander were to bust his butt to gain yards but there was nothing there, then I could live with that. The problem that all you SA apologists refuse to acknowlege is that he doesn’t even try to get anything if there’s not a huge hole there. When we had Hutch lined up next to Walt my grandmother could have run for 1000 yards.

    As for him saving himself…why in the world would I want to see a 32 year old Shaun Alexander in the backfield? He’s bad enough the way he is. Go out there, give 100% today and when you don’t have the heart to do the job anymore RETIRE! Don’t show up and cash checks that should have gone to Steve Hutchinson and Walter Jones.

  30. bustinheads says:

    How stupid is this? Putting down our star RB and you KNOW we can’t get anybody else better…I guess you want to go out there and show us how much better you are than Shaun, huh? I would like to see that, but, I really don’t want the Seahawks to lose a game that badly. Like ANY of you could do better…oh, and the guy who said his grandma could gain 1000 yds. bring her too. Dumb ships.

  31. pabuwal says:

    I think the folks who don’t like Shaun Alexander would enjoy rooting for guys like Westbrook on the Eagles. Everytime Westbrook carries the ball, they run an MRI on him to make sure he’s ok!

  32. SPAN1AWAY says:

    Can we please stop the Alexander bashing? He is playing injured! I don’t know about you but, I can’t imagine trying to stiff-arm someone with a broken bone in my wrist!

    It’s clear to me that the Offense is kind of going away from the running game and their game plan doesn’t include a great deal of running. Either way, SA will perform and shut all the naysayers up as the season continues. Let us not forget that he still has a target on his back and I don’t care who we play against, I guarantee that the opposing defense has made sure that they hit him as hard as they possibly can!

  33. Span1away, I hope that Shaun does perform and shut everyone up. I have been a Seahawks fan my entire life. I’ve been to more road games than most people who call themselves fans have watched on TV. I rip Alexander because he deserves it. He gets paid to tote the rock. When it’s third and one his job is to lay it on the line and do what it takes to pick up that yard. But he doesn’t. He tip-toes around and curls up at the slightest hint of contact. Don’t take my word for it Tivo the games and watch his runs for yourself.

  34. buddhabrad says:

    Anyone who’s blocked for a guy who wouldn’t hit the hole is very likely not happy with Shaun these days. It’s really frustrating as a lineman to block when you have no clue where your back is going.

    Still trying to learn the new guys? What the hell does that even mean? You take the ball at full speed and you hit the hole.

  35. toy94x4 says:

    Comment by buddhabrad: I’ve been to more road games than most people who call themselves fans have watched on TV.

    What the hell does this have to do with anything… so freaking what. Glad you have so much money to do all that traveling. That doesn’t make you a better fan or more knowledgable… idiot! I guess you’re our next GM since you know so much. Sit back, shut up, and enjoy the ride because it’s going to be an exciting one no matter have 37 runs.

  36. easley45 says:

    bustinheads

    I would rather have Ricky Watters, Ricky Williams, or even Ricky Henderson back there, and they will show him how to run with heart.

    You know what heart is, it’s that thing in your chest.
    Something that Cinderalexander rarely shows!

  37. toy94x4 says:

    Correction to previous post… The comment I reposted was by JJSNIX not buddhabrad. My apologies.

  38. koopdog says:

    I’m a reader, don’t comment much, but this sheer amount of stupidity ticks me off….I love what people are using as expert references, such sterling sources as a Washington Redskins fan blog–based on the comments I’m seeing here, I can only imagine the riches of truth and honesty that would be generated on that one. Having lived on the East Coast, Redskins fans really are raider nation east.

    What makes me sick is remembering those playoff games in 05 against Washington and Carolina after Shawn’s magnificent year and TD record, and all of us at Qwest chanting “MVP-MVP” like lunatics…and now to reading this tripe, probably from a lot of the same people.

    This crap about him faking the concussion—you need to just quit stealing oxygen from the rest of us if you believe that. Anyone who has actually played this game (which I suspect most of you haters have not) knows what it likes to get your bell rung–not fun, and unpredictable afterward. Yes, I’m sure after a season where he ran for 1800 plus and a TD record he would take a dive in the playoffs, because, goodness, he certainly never faced any tough defenses in the prior 16 games….good God.

    His yardage over the years speaks for itself. Period.

    He is playing injured for the 2nd year. I know some couch jockeys don’t know what that’s like either–his foot issue last year, huge problem for a running back (oh, sorry, I mean itty-bitty crack) and a broken wrist that I’m sure the team is downplaying–again imagine crack blocking a 270 pound man with a broken wrist, or taking a helmet on it. Come on tough guys, are you soft?

    You folks that refuse to admit reality and blame at least a portion of our running woes on the line—I would bet my paycheck that you’re the same tribe that says his running prowess and stats are only due to running behind Walt and Hutch (btw, look at the stats on where he gets yardage—that assumption is empirically incorrect). So what is it? If his past success is solely due to the O-line’s past greatness, than I guess it logically follows that it’s the O-line’s fault that he is “struggling”, eh? No? Folks, can’t have it both ways. Please pull your head out of your third point of contact.

    Look, I have no problem with people critiquing or criticizing his style; I also enjoy watching a Larry Czonka type back, but Shawn is one of the best backs in the NFL. He is what he is, not a smashmouth back, but “soft” is not a word that you can honestly use for him.

  39. antediluvian says:

    So….those of you who think the running problem is SA and not the O-line…please read Frank’s story today. Direct quotes from Holmgren and Laveroni about blown assignments on teh line…blocking the wrong guys, etc.

    Please repeat after me…”just because I don’t like SA’s running style does not mean he is a bad runner”.

    There….that wasn’t so hard!

  40. ohiohawkfan says:

    Oops, I’m sorry. I must have entered the wrong blog site by accident. I thought this was the Seahawks Insider. Where Hawks “FANS” have intelligent discussions. I didn’t know I entered the “SA Sucks” blog.

    Get a grip people. His stats speak for themselves. He has been wounded thus far the past two seasons. No RB, and I repeat “NO RB” can do anything by himself. The last I checked, football is a team sport and all players must be on the same page every play.

    We have been fortunate in recent years under Holmgren to witness a good OL and a good RB rack up some terrific numbers. Better than ever in Seahawk’s history. Enjoy it, don’t piss it away. Either stop bashing the players that play for “our” team or go be a Steelers fan.

  41. ToddSchneider says:

    Amen, Koopdog. It is amazing to me how quick we turn on our own players. I’m not as savy as the rest of you about football, but the one thing I do believe is that Holmgren does not shy away from calling it like it is. If he thought SA was tanking it he would let everyone know how that would have to stop.

  42. Thanks, Todd, Roger that. A couple of amazing stats on Shawn from the page that MaxWellEdison posted above (Thanks, Max)

    http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/AlexSh00.htm

    are his all time stats. He is the 25th best in yardage right now, and should easily move into the top 20 this year and if he stays healthy, top 10 eventually.

    He has the 9th most touchdowns in history and could crack the top 5 with a below average year.

    Look at some of the names above and below him—um, wow, pretty good company to be in.

    To beat the horse into bones and dust, it’s okay to not like his running style, but it’s asinine to call him names or question his ability. We will look back on the Alexander/Hasselbeck/Jones offensive era in a decade or so with nostalgia and appreciation.

  43. buddhabrad says:

    I think it’s possible to be critical but not considered a hater. I cheer just as loudly as anyone when SA scores or breaks a big run. But, I also see his weaknesses. His running style is not my cup of tea. (Nor Holmgren’s either, I assure you.)

    SA has his pluses and minuses. He was the MVP. A year prior, he was crying in the lockerroom complaining about biased playcalling to screw him out of the rushing title. He can be fast as hell. He falls down on contact. He seems like a decent person. He says some things that could be considered odd and/or selfish. He has a strong sense of self. (He’s the only player I’ve heard call Holmgren “Mike”.)

    He’s a strange cat. I cheer for him, but he’s not my favorite. As such, I think it is fair to point out his weaknesses (and strengths), and have them rationally considered without having to be either on or off the bandwagon.

    He’s our #1 back. Nothing more, nothing less.

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