Mora evaluating team from top to bottom
RENTON, Wash. -- The skidding Seahawks aren't worried about T.J. Houshmandzadeh's stomping and gesturing after he doesn't get the ball.
They have too many other concerns. Such as keeping their jobs.
Coach Jim Mora put his 2-5 team on notice following Sunday's 21-point loss at Dallas, which came after a 24-point home loss to Arizona.
"He basically said, 'I will evaluate this organization up and down and if I feel I've got to make changes, I'm going to make changes. If that means I've got to fire people, I'm going to fire people,' " quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. "We've definitely been put on notice that the scrutiny is going to go up."
The Seahawks captain said that while some teammates are working harder to get better, "there are some guys just happy to have a job."
Travis Fisher no longer has one. The veteran was released Monday evening. But firing the third-string cornerback who wasn't even active for Sunday's 38-17 loss to the Cowboys isn't going to cure what ails Seattle heading into Sunday's home game against even worse-off Detroit (1-6).
"It's been a tough 24 hours, man," receiver Nate Burleson said.
This is the first time Mora, the coach of the Atlanta Falcons from 2004-06 who took over the Seahawks in January from Mike Holmgren, has been three games below .500 as a head coach. His public tone Monday was far more terse than it had been for two months.
"I don't like to lose," he said.
The coach had been optimistic and upbeat amid Seattle's many injuries and defeats. That was before the Cowboys blew out his team amid penalties, fumbles and missed assignments. A 14-10 game late in the second quarter became a 38-10 runaway.
Just as he did the day before, Mora relayed a statement e-mailed to him Friday by Bruce Brown, his old coach at Hyak Junior High School in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue.
"Adversity turns weak people into victims, and it turns strong people into competitors," was Brown's message.
"We are going to find out who the strong people are, and they are going to be here fighting with us until the end," Mora said Monday. "And we're going to find out who the victims are, and they aren't going to with us fighting to the end.
"We're up against it a little bit. People will reveal themselves at these times. And I will be looking hard."
Houshmandzadeh, who signed a $40 million, five-year contract in the spring, has repeatedly proclaimed he wants the ball more in his first season with Seattle. Then Sunday the NFL's leading receiver over the last three seasons entering 2009 angrily gestured toward Hasselbeck to throw the ball with more loft immediately after he tried to zing a hard pass to the tightly guarded receiver while he was one-on-one with a defender near the goal line in the first quarter. The discussion continued at the bench. Both players made gestures but did not appear to be arguing so much as explaining themselves.
"You're talking about two great competitors. They were just simply having an animated discussion," Mora said. "There was no animosity.
"You have to remember, these two guys, they've only had seven games together. They're trying to learn each other."
Hasselbeck said he thought Houshmandzadeh, who had 92 receptions last season with Cincinnati but has just 35 through seven games with Seattle, knew about an adjustment the quarterback had worked out previously while in a similar situation with Burleson.
"That's kind of his demeanor," Hasselbeck said of Houshmandzadeh's fire. "There's no issue there. The issue is, we have to complete more passes."
Hasselbeck made a point of mentioning he nominated Houshmandzadeh to be team's player representative for this season.
Then there's Deion Branch's proclamation into a FOX television camera caught live on the air Sunday, as the forgotten former Super Bowl MVP ran through the back of the end zone following his first touchdown catch of the season.
The oft-injured Branch hasn't fulfilled the huge contract and No. 1 draft choice Seattle invested in him after a trade with New England in September 2006, and he had been the subject of trade rumors before the league's deadline last month. He looked into the lens Sunday and shouted: "This is what I do! If anyone wants me, come find me!"
Mora dismissed that, too.
"Sounds like a challenge to me," the coach said. "Sounds like he's competing and challenging people."
Given all the sideshows and losses, Hasselbeck was asked how the Seahawks' psyche was.
"That's a good question," the team's leader said. "I think that's something we've got to figure out."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press