Hawks Coach Holmgren Defends Alexander’s Struggles

Shaun Alexander, left, looks for running room against St. Louis Rams' Corey Chavous  

While the Seattle Seahawks continue to try and find ways to run the football better, their head coach is now coming to the defense of their leading rusher. Hawks coach Mike Holmgren spoke out Monday about the recent backlash that former MVP Shaun Alexander is getting over his lackluster 2007 season. Alexander was booed by the home crowd at Qwest Field Sunday during the teams 33-6 victory over the punchless St.Louis Rams. He was also booed last Sunday night at home as the team lost to the New Orleans Saints in convincing fashion.

“Shaun Alexander seems to be the lightning rod and I am here to tell that there are times that there is nothing there. … He has been a little unfairly criticized in my opinion,” Holmgren said on Monday. Maybe Holmgren forgets that it was just two seasons ago that Alexander was running over record books on his way to being the league’s MVP with 1,880 yards and 28 touchdowns. It was no surprise that the Hawks, as the number one seed in the NFC, were able to use Alexander’s strong regular season to advance to Super Bowl XL.

Since then though, things have not exactly been smooth for the back or the team. Alexander went down with a foot injury early in 2006, and missed six games. He came back in week 11 vs the 49’ers and struggled for just 37 yards, but then looked back to form the next week against Green Bay, going off for 201 yards. He wrapped up the season with 896 yards in 10 games.

This year though has been back to struggling with injuries, this time to his left wrist, where he is wearing a cast during games. Alexander’s numbers have been modest at best, with two 100+ yard games (105 in week one and 100 in week three) and he has been held under 50 yards on the ground the last three weeks. He also has not scored since a week two loss to the Cardinals.

Holmgren stated Monday that Alexander was not the issue with the running game, and continues to put the blame on the O-line. “We are not blocking very well at this particular point. That must improve,” Holmgren said. “We’ve been forced to analyze it because of people — you guys, our families, everybody — what they say is ‘What’s going on with Shaun?’ because Shaun is the MVP, Shaun’s a great running back. I’m here to say for Shaun, there is not a lot (of room) there. And we have to be better at that. We have to fix that.”

If the Hawks don’t get that aspect turned around, and in a hurry, they are going to find themselves in a dogfight just to win one of the weaker divisions in the NFL.

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