RENTON, Wash. (AP)—The Seahawks’ first win in five weeks over the dysfunctional San Francisco 49ers didn’t answer Seattle’s most pressing question.
Matt Hasselbeck has returned to Los Angeles for a second visit to a back surgeon, leaving coach Mike Holmgren to prepare for Sunday’s game against Philadelphia with Seneca Wallace as his starting quarterback.
“Right now, he’s our quarterback,” Holmgren said of Wallace on Monday. “And we rally behind him.”
Hasselbeck was having another evaluation on the bulging disk in his back. The disk is pushing on a nerve that is weakening the three-time Pro Bowler’s hyperextended right knee.
Unless Hasselbeck passes a strength test for the knee so he can practice before Friday, he will miss his fourth consecutive game on Sunday when Seattle (2-5) faces the Eagles (4-3).
Hasselbeck has been out since hurting his knee Oct. 5 and continuing to play two more quarters in an embarrassing 44-6 loss at the New York Giants.
Holmgren said the quarterback’s absence hasn’t gone from short-term issue to long-term reality—not yet, at least.
“Matt’s thing is the same: He’ll rehab during the week and see how it is,” Holmgren said. “Right now, it’s on a week-to-week basis.”
Holmgren said a quarterback has to have a strong week of practice to prepare for the array of blitzes the Eagles’ defense uses.
Wallace completed 15 of 25 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown and did not turn the ball over in a 34-13 win over the 49ers Sunday. A week earlier, he went 12-for-23 for just 73 yards with an interception and looked bad in a loss at Tampa Bay.
“He just played with more confidence,” Holmgren said, adding Wallace’s sore calf has improved.
Holmgren has also helped by changing his play-calling philosophy without Hasselbeck taking the snaps.
After uncharacteristically relying on his running game through three losses, the veteran maestro of the passing game went back to his roots against the 49ers.
“I told Seneca, I told our receivers … ‘Hey, look it, instead of being so careful about everything and almost calling the game defensively, we are going to kind of let it go a little bit. Everyone’s getting paid in the room. So you have a responsibility, too. And let’s play,”’ Holmgren said. “And they responded to that.
“I suspect we will keep doing that.”
Holmgren said he wasn’t happy with missed blocking assignments on running plays against the 49ers. Seattle gained a season-low 39 yards rushing on 28 carries, so Wallace again could be winging it against the Eagles.
“You reach a point (where you say), ‘What the heck? If you are going to go down or take some hits, go down with your own guns blazing. Let’s just have some fun doing this. And let’s see how that works,”’ said Holmgren, who is in his 10th and final season leading the Seahawks. “So our approach changed just a little bit last week.
“I don’t know if it’s any easier. It’s a little more fun for me, to call it that way.”
Holmgren said Lofa Tatupu may not practice much this week because of a groin injury he sustained against the 49ers but that the Pro Bowl linebacker was likely to play against Philadelphia.
Pro Bowl defensive end Patrick Kerney injured his surgically repaired shoulder at San Francisco but is also likely to play against the Eagles.
Wide receiver Deion Branch is likely to be out again after some confusion over what the team thought was a bruised heel. The former Super Bowl MVP has played in just one half of a game since reconstructive knee surgery last February.
“We look to maybe get him back next week,” Holmgren said.