Erickson takes over

In 1995, the Seahawks were looking for a coach – for the second time in four years. Dennis Erickson, meanwhile, was looking to move to the NFL.

Club owner Ken Behring had tired of Chuck Knox’s conservative approach to winning and – after only three seasons and a 14-34 record – also fired his handpicked successor, Tom Flores. Erickson, who had grown up in Everett, was coming off six ridiculously successful seasons at the University of Miami, where he led the Hurricane to 63-9 record and two national championships.

Need met desire on Jan. 12, when Erickson was hired as the fifth head coach in franchise history – after being linked to the job when Knox was fired in 1991 and also during Flores’ exit in 1994.

“The decision was made right after my father and I spent four hours with coach Erickson,” David Behring, Ken’s son and the club president, said at the time – when Erickson’s introductory news conference was held not in Kirkland but Palo Alto, Calif., because Erickson was coaching the East team in the annual East-West Shrine all-star game.

“We were extremely impressed. He had the same philosophy as we did. We loved his intensity. We loved the commitment he has to winning. He has so many traits we were excited about that when he left we just made the decision.

“We wanted Dennis Erickson as our next coach.”

Erickson just wanted some sleep.

“It’s been awful. I haven’t slept much,” he said of the negotiation process, which was intertwined with his should-I-do-this-at-this- time process.

“It’s easier to make a decision when you’re in your home environment. I’ve been 3,000 miles away in a hotel room, and on the phone, because your family isn’t here to help you make it.”

Not all his family, that is. Erickson’s parents still lived in the Everett area, where his father, Pink, had been a successful high school coach. Erickson’s return – to coach his hometown NFL team, no less – was viewed as the right man, for the right job, at the right time. Finally.

“You kind of felt that he’s the guy,” said Eugene Robinson, the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl free safety and defensive captain. “It kind of plays this whole story out. … It was something that was kind of assumed from the start, because he looks like the natural candidate.” The only thing missing at the Seahawks’ headquarters in Kirkland when Erickson did arrive was the symbolic hitching post to tether the white horse this hometown hero of a coach rode in on. Because of his hiring, things were looking up for a franchise that had not been to the playoffs since 1988 and last posted a winning record in 1990.

The NFL Draft delivered first-round pick Joey Galloway, an electrifying wide receiver/punt returner who had sprinter’s speed. The offense already featured Chris Warren, who was coming off back-to-back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons wide receiver Brian Blades, who had caught a club-record 81 passes in 1994 and quarterback Rick Mirer, the team’s first-round pick in 1993.

The defense was built around Pro Bowl defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, who had played for Erickson at Miami defensive end Michael Sinclair, who would go to the Pro Bowl in 1996-98 linebacker Terry Wooden, who was acquired in the same 1990 draft that delivered Kennedy, Warren and strong safety Robert Blackmon and Robinson, who had been to the Pro Bowl in 1992-93.

But despite what happened in between (an 8-6 record and a 6-2 second-half mark), the ’95 season was best summarized by the season-opening and season-ending losses to the Kansas City Chiefs – by a combined score of 60-13. The Chiefs won the AFC West with a 13-3 record that season, and the disparity between where the Seahawks were and where they wanted to get was played out in the Kingdome on Sept. 3 and at Arrowhead Stadium on Dec. 24.

“A huge gap,” was the way Erickson described, well, the huge gap between his Seahawks and the in-control Chiefs. “They’re the best team in the AFC, and we’re not there yet,” he added after the finality of the finale at Arrowhead. “We are a ways away.”

But the 1995 Seahawks also took a quantum leap from the ’94 version – and especially the still-fresh-in-the-memory ’92 club that had gone 2-14.

Warren rushed for 1,346 yards and scored 16 touchdowns, and was voted the AFC Pro Bowl starter. Blades caught 77 passes, while Galloway had 67 receptions and seven TDs – to go with his 10-yard average returning punts that included an 89-yarder for a score.

In a Week 11 game at Jacksonville, Galloway ignited the 47-30 victory over the Jaguars with an 86-yard TD run off a reverse of a reverse and 114 yards and two TDs on five receptions.

“I’ve never been around anyone like him,” veteran wide receiver Ricky Proehl said after Galloway’s he-went-that-a-way day. “To do what Joey did yesterday and last week (the 89-yard punt return), there’s probably a handful – one hand – of guys who can do that in this league.”

On defense, Wooden had a career-best 135 tackles – then the fourth-highest total in franchise history and still No. 6 on the all-time list – and Robinson had 105, in what would be his final season with the Seahawks.

The special teams were paced by punter Rick Tuten, who led the NFL with a club-record 45-yard average, including a team-record 73-yarder kicker Todd Peterson, who scored 109 points, one shy of the club record kickoff returner Steve Broussard, who averaged a club-record 24.7 yards Mack Strong, who had a team-high 19 coverage tackles and, of course, Galloway.

In addition to Galloway’s three-score game in Jacksonville, the 6-2 run in the second half of the season included some impressive individual performances: Warren ran for 136 yards and one TD and Mirer passed for two more scores in a 27-20 win over the Redskins in Washington Peterson kicked four field goals in a 26-14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at the Kingdome QB John Friesz led three fourth-quarter drives as the Seahawks overcame a 20-0 deficit, the largest in franchise history, to grab a 31-27 victory against the Broncos in Denver, which also included a 83-yard TD return of a fumble by defensive end Antonio Edwards and Warren scored three TDs in a 44-10 romp over the Oakland Raiders at the Kingdome.

Edwards’ scoring return against the Broncos came after Blackmon had forced Seahawks nemesis John Elway to fumble, and prompted this response from snapper Trey Junkin: “The first thing I thought was, ‘God, I never want to get hit like that.’ I mean, I thought I was going to be part of history – like I was there the day Robert Blackmon killed John Elway.”

There also were off-field events of note in Erickson’s first year as coach. Steve Largent became the first Seahawk to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Jacob Green was added to the team’s Ring of Honor and the team spent the week between the games against the Jaguars and Redskins in Jacksonville. That was noteworthy because while they were away a combination of snow, ice and wind tore a hole in the bubble that covered the team’s indoor practice field, which forced practices to be held at the Kingdome the rest of the season.

“We’ve got to get to the next level,” Erickson said after already taking the Seahawks to a next level in his first season. “We’ve got to get from 8-8 to 9-7, and then to that next level.”

Erickson’s initial season definitely was an improvement for the Seahawks. But ultimately, the team never improved on that 8-8 record in three more seasons under Erickson – which led to Behring hiring yet another coach in 1999.

Year in Review
Record
8-8 (third in AFC West)
Owner
Ken Behring
Coach
Dennis Erickson
Captains
QB Rick Mirer (off.), FS Eugene Robinson (def.), Snapper Trey Junkin (ST)
MVP
RB Chris Warren
Man of the Year
Robinson
Largent Award
LB Terry Wooden
Leading Passer
Mirer (209 of 391 for 2,564 yards, with 13 TDs and 20 interceptions)
Leading Rusher
Warren (1,346 yards and 15 TDs)
Leading Receiver
Brian Blades (77 receptions for 1,001 yards)
Leading Tackler(s)
Wooden (135)
Special Teams Tackles
FB Mack Strong (19)
Interception Leader(s)
SS Robert Blackmon (5)
Sack Leader
DE Antonio Edwards and DT Cortez Kennedy (6½)
Leading Scorer(s)
K Todd Peterson (109 points)
Pro Bowl Selection(s)
Kennedy, Warren
All-Pro
Warren (second team)
National Honors
Steve Largent was voted to (January) and inducted into (July) the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and his No. 80 was officially retired (August)

1995

1995: Erickson takes over

In 1995, the Seahawks were looking for a coach – for the second time in four years. Dennis Erickson, meanwhile, was looking to move to the NFL.

Key Date
September 03, 1995

Seahawks lose NFL debut of Head Coach Dennis Erickson, 34-10, to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Kingdome. Jacob Green was inducted into the Ring of Honor.

Key Date
September 17, 1995

Erickson gains first career win, 24-21, over the Cincinnati Bengals in the Kingdome. Chris Warren rushes for 109 yards.

Dennis Erickson Named Head Coach
January 12, 1995

Dennis Erickson, head coach at the University of Miami, is named head coach. In six seasons at Miami, Erickson compiled a 63-9-0 record and won national championships in 1989 and 1991. A native of Everett, Washington, Erickson posted a 113-40-1 record in 13 seasons as a college head coach at the University of Idaho, University of Wyoming, Washington State University, and Miami. Erickson brings six coaches with him from Miami, Gregg Smith (assistant head coach/tight ends), Greg McMackin (defensive coordinator), Dave Arnold (special teams), Dana LeDuc (strength and conditioning), Rich Olson (quarterbacks), and Willy Robinson (defensive backs). In addition he retains Bob Bratkowski (offensive coordinator/wide receivers), Tommy Brasher (defensive line), Tom Catlin (quality control), Dave Brown (defensive coach), Arnie Matsumoto (staff assistant), Howard Mudd (offensive line), and Clarence Shelmon (running backs) from the previous staff.

Key Date
December 10, 1995

Quarterback John Friesz engineers three fourth quarter touchdown drives in a 31-27 win over the Broncos in Denver. Seattle rallies from a 20-0 second quarter deficit for the win, the greatest comeback in franchise history. Friesz throws for two touchdowns, including the game-winner to Chris Warren with 49 seconds left. Antonio Edwards’ club record 83-yard return of a Robert Blackmon-forced fumble in the third quarter, ignites the rally.

Key Date
October 22, 1995

Chris Warren runs for 112 yards and two touchdowns, but Stan Humphries passes for three scores as the San Diego Chargers hand the Seahawks a 35-25 loss at the Kingdome.

Key Date
December 24, 1995

AFC Western Division champion Kansas City Chiefs end the Seahawks postseason bid with a 26-3 win in Arrowhead Stadium.

Mike Murphy Named Linebackers Coach
February 09, 1995

Mike Murphy, a nine-season NFL coaching veteran, is named linebackers coach. Murphy coached with the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals prior to serving one year in the Pro Personnel Department of the Carolina Panthers.

Largent #80 Jersey Retired
August 12, 1995

Seahawks officially retire Largent’s #80 jersey.

Key Date
November 19, 1995

Seattle posts a 27-20 win over the Redskins in Washington, D.C., completing a two-game, 10-day road trip. Chris Warren rushes for a season-high 136 yards and one score, quarterback Rick Mirer throws two touchdown passes and Robert Blackmon has two interceptions. The Seahawks stayed in Jacksonville between games.

Steve Largent Elected into Pro Football Hall of Fame
January 28, 1995

Wide Receiver Steve Largent becomes the first Seahawks player to be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Largent was elected in his first year of eligibility. He played his entire NFL career with Seattle from 1976-89, and retired in possession of six NFL receiving marks, including most receptions (819), yards (13,089), touchdowns (100), and consecutive games with a reception (177). Largent’s presenter for induction is Seahawks’ Vice President Gary Wright.

Key Date
December 17, 1995

Chris Warren scores three touchdowns in a 44-10 win over the Oakland Raiders. The win is Seattle’s eighth of the year, their most since 1990.

Key Date
December 03, 1995

Todd Peterson kicks four field goals in a 26-14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Key Date
November 12, 1995

Galloway strikes again, this time on an 86-yard run from scrimmage in a 47-30 win over the Jaguars in Jacksonville. His run is a club record and is an NFL-long for 1995, as was his punt return. Galloway accounts for 237 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, including five receptions for 114 yards and two scores receiving.

Key Date
July 29, 1995

Steve Largent is formally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Joey Galloway First Round Draft Pick
April 22, 1995

Seahawks select Ohio State University wide receiver Joey Galloway with the eighth pick in the first round of the NFL draft. Galloway is the second wide receiver chosen overall and the first ever picked by the Seahawks in the first round of the draft.

Key Date
November 05, 1995

Rookie Joey Galloway returns a punt a club record 89 yards for a touchdown to spark a 30-28 win over the visiting New York Giants. Brian Blades has two first quarter touchdown receptions. The win snaps a four-game losing streak and ignites a streak of six wins in seven games.

The decision was made right after my father and I spent four hours with coach Erickson. We were extremely impressed. He had the same philosophy as we did. We loved his intensity. We loved the commitment he has to winning. He has so many traits we were excited about that when he left we just made the decision.We wanted Dennis Erickson as our next coach.
David Behring
We’ve got to get to the next level. We’ve got to get from 8-8 to 9-7, and then to that next level.
Dennis Erickson
1995 Season Schedule
DateOpponentScoreW:L
9/3 Kansas City 10-34 L
9/10 AT San Diego 10-14 L
9/17 Cincinnati 24-21 W
10/1 Denver 27-10 W
10/8 AT Oakland 14-34 L
10/15 AT Buffalo 21-27 L
10/22 San Diego 25-35 L
10/29 AT Arizona 14-20 L
11/5 New York Giants 30-28 W
11/12 AT Jacksonville 47-30 W
11/19 AT Washington 27-20 W
11/26 New York Jets 10-16 L
12/3 Philadelphia 26-14 W
12/10 AT Denver 31-27 W
12/17 Oakland 44-10 W
12/24 AT Kansas City 3-26 L
1995 Record
88
1995 Offense
PosPlayerStarts
C Jim Sweeney 16
G Kevin Mawae 16
G Matt Joyce (R) 13
G Jeff Blackshear 0
T Todd Norman 0
T Mike Keim 0
T Ray Roberts 0
T James Atkins 16
T Howard Ballard 16
TE Trey Junkin 0
TE Christian Fauria (R) 9
TE Carlester Crumpler 7
WR Joey Galloway (R) 16
WR Brian Blades 16
WR Eddie Goines 0
WR Ricky Proehl 0
WR James McKnight 0
WR Ronnie Harris 0
WR Robb Thomas 0
QB Rick Mirer 13
QB John Friesz 3
QB Stan Gelbaugh 0
FB Steve Smith 7
FB Tracy Johnson 4
RB Lamar Smith 0
RB Mack Strong 0
RB Chris Warren 16
RB Steve Broussard 0
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1995 Defense
PosPlayerStarts
DE Michael Sinclair 15
DE Michael McCrary 0
DE Antonio Edwards 7
DE Brent Williams 9
DT Sam Adams 5
DT Joe Nash 11
DT Henry McMillian 0
DT Cortez Kennedy 16
LB Bob Spitulski 0
LB Jason Kyle 0
LB James Logan 0
LB Duane Bickett 0
LB Mike Barber 0
MLB Dean Wells 10
MLB Tyronne Stowe 0
OLB Winston Moss 16
OLB Terry Wooden 16
CB Corey Harris 16
CB Nate Odomes 0
CB Selwyn Jones 0
CB Tony Brown 0
CB Carlton Gray 16
DB Dion Lambert 0
FS Eugene Robinson 16
SAF Rafael Robinson 0
SAF Tony Covington 0
SAF Jay Bellamy 0
SS Robert Blackmon 13
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1995 Special Teams
PosPlayerStarts
K Todd Peterson 16
P Rick Tuten 16
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1995: Resurrection

VIDEO: 1995: Resurrection

On this Day in Seahawks History