Ray Rhodes Gets Seattle Defense Coach Job

Thu Feb 6, 3:13 AM ET
By TIM KORTE, AP Sports Writer

KIRKLAND, Wash. - Within an hour of signing his new contract, Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes was viewing tape of last year's season-opening loss to Oakland.

"When you accept a job, it's not time to get a bottle of champagne and pop the cork," Rhodes said. "You've got to work."

Rhodes joined the Seahawks on Wednesday, a month after leaving the same position with the Denver Broncos. He's reunited in Seattle with his old buddy, Mike Holmgren, and together they hope to reach another Super Bowl.

"I'm going to give him all the support I can as a head coach," Holmgren said. "We're friends first, colleagues second."

Things worked out perfectly for the Seahawks, considering Rhodes was under contract to Denver when Holmgren fired defensive coordinator Steve Sidwell and four assistants after a 7-9 season.

"When the process started this offseason, having Ray here was probably the farthest thing from my mind," Holmgren said.

Rhodes and fired Dallas coach Dave Campo, who took the defensive coordinator's job in Cleveland, were the only candidates interviewed in Seattle. Two others spoke to Holmgren by phone, but their visits were canceled after Rhodes became available.

Broncos coach Mike Shanahan eventually agreed to release Rhodes, and Holmgren didn't think long about hiring his old pal.

"Things happen in this crazy business," Holmgren said. "As you guys know, change takes place."

Holmgren and Rhodes have a solid history together.

They were assistants together in San Francisco, winning two Super Bowls under Bill Walsh and George Seifert. When Holmgren became head coach in Green Bay in 1992, he made Rhodes his defensive coordinator.

"We've been friends a long time," Holmgren said.

When Rhodes considered the Seahawks, he was impressed by their season-ending offensive surge. Seattle averaged 29 points and 475.8 total yards over the last six games of the regular season.

He also saw talented defensive players like linebacker Chad Brown, lineman Chad Eaton and cornerback Shawn Springs. Rhodes jumped at the opportunity to work again with Holmgren, believing the Super Bowl is a realistic goal.

"I'm not just talking about squeaking into the playoffs. You want to get to the big dance," Rhodes said. "That's what we want to get accomplished. Believe me, this team is on the verge, and I'm saying that as a guy who is walking in the door."

Rhodes must improve a Seattle defense that ranked last in the NFL against the run and 28th overall last season. Ten running backs gained at least 100 yards against the Seahawks.

Rhodes, though, has a proven record of improving defenses quickly. The Broncos ranked 24th in the NFL before Rhodes arrived, then climbed to eighth in 2001 and sixth last season.

As defensive coordinator in Washington, Rhodes boosted the Redskins from 30th in 1999 to fourth in 2000.

"I lean heavy on everybody, players and coaches," Rhodes said. "We've got to do this thing together."

Rhodes wouldn't say much about his final weeks in Denver, where he refused to speak with reporters. Criticism was heaped on Rhodes after the Broncos started 6-2 but lost five of their last seven games.

"It got to the point where I wanted to move on, and I'd like that to be the end of the Denver conversation," Rhodes said.

He wouldn't disclose his plans for overhauling the Seahawks, saying he first wants to evaluate personnel. But he enthusiastically jumped into his new job, starting with video of Seattle's first game from last year.

"There's a lot of work to be done," Rhodes said. "This is February, and a lot of teams have already done a lot of things we should have done from a defensive standpoint."