Renton - A reflective coach Jim Mora talked in general terms abut his team’s shortcomings in 2009, but with the hiring of a general manager looming, he held back Wednesday on listing what he thinks are the Seattle Seahawks' most pressing needs.
“I have some general feelings on some things we need,” Mora said. “But in order to prioritize them I need more time to look at them, think about it, remove myself emotionally from it.”
Mora said he and his coaching staff have moved forward with an offseason evaluation of the team as if he will remain the coach. Mora admitted, though, that he has not talked specifically about his job status with team CEO Tod Leiweke, with the team currently trying to fill its vacant president/general manager position.
“I’m just proceeding forward with our evaluation process,” Mora said. “I haven’t talked to Tod in a day. You know, Tod’s busy with some other things right now. But I’m not too worried about it. I’m just going to go work until I’m told not to work.”
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Leiweke said during a Dec. 3 press conference to announce the resignation of GM Tim Ruskell that Mora likely would be retained.
Mora said he does not know how much involvement, if any, he will have in the selection of a new general manager.
Mora seemed more concerned with fixing the Seahawks’ on-the-field problems, a job he took on when he replaced retiring Mike Holmgren almost a year ago. Mora had high expectations then, proclaiming the Seahawks would return to being a playoff-caliber team.
After Seattle finished the 2009 season with a 5-11 record, Mora told reporters on Wednesday, “Maybe I oversold” optimism before the season started.
“It’s difficult,” he said. “And I think sometimes you go in there and say, ‘I can do it.’ Now, I’m fortunate because I did that. My first job in Atlanta I took a team that was 5-11, we went to 11-5 and went to the NFC Championship game. So I always approach it as I can do that again. … It was harder than we thought.”
Mora pointed to the trend of coaches installing new systems at their respective teams in an effort to win more games than the previous season, with the Detroit Lions and the Kansas City Chiefs the only teams experiencing as much as a two-game improvement over the 2008 season.
Also, Mora said he looked at the struggles of such legendary coaches as Bill Walsh, Bill Belichick and Jimmy Johnson in the early stages of their careers to find solace in his current state with the Seahawks.
Walsh finished 2-14 in his first season with San Francisco. Belichick finished 5-11 in his first season with New England before turning things around. Jimmy Johnson went 1-15 in his opening campaign in Dallas. All eventually led their teams to Super Bowl wins.
When asked if he has plans to replace anyone on his coaching staff, Mora said he wants to take time to evaluate everything before making a decision on changes.
“Everything is under evaluation,” Mora said. “I have not made any decisions yet. And as soon as we make any decisions, we’ll make sure we relay them to you.”
Asked to name a few things from the 2009 season that could be part of building a foundation for next season, Mora pointed to how well the defense played in the finale against Tennessee, the improved running game during the final four games, and the special-teams performances of placekicker Olindo Mare, who made his final 21 field goal attempts, and punter Jon Ryan.
Mora also said he believes the team stayed together and did not complain even though they struggled on the field
“They came to work with a good attitude and the right mind-set,” Mora said. “That doesn’t mean things were perfect. Things are never perfect. But they worked hard at practice. They were motivated to try and get better. There wasn’t a lot of negativity in the locker room. They like each other. And I think that’s something you can definitely build on.”
Mora told reporters that the team would like to make a decision sometime in February or March as to whether offensive tackle Walter Jones can play in 2010. “As great … a player (as) he is, this organization has an obligation to continue to move forward,” Mora said. “And if he’s a part of the plan, fantastic. And if he’s not, we’ll just treasure the great moments he had on the football field.” … Mora said safety Deon Grant (wrist), wide receiver Mike Hass (shoulder) and defensive lineman Patrick Kerney (elbow) will have offseason surgery. This is Kerney’s third straight postseason requiring surgery. He had shoulder surgery after the 2007 and ’08 seasons.
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437