For all the talk that accompanied Mike Holmgren when he became Seattle's coach in 1999, his record is just 50-46. He also is 0-3 in the playoffs.

The team's best bet this year is based on a talented secondary. Cornerbacks Marcus Trufant and Kelly Herndon, who was acquired from Denver, were among the eight defensive backs to break up at least 20 passes last year.

Strong safety Michael Boulware had five interceptions; two came in the final two minutes of games with Seattle holding a tenuous lead. A third he returned 63 yards for the winning touchdown with less than a minute to play against Miami.

Boulware played outside linebacker at Florida State -- he is 6 feet 3 and 223 pounds -- and is still learning the safety position, said defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes.

"As a coach, you worry about Year Two," Rhodes said. "Sometimes a guy bounces. That's the thing you want to do, make sure he stays consistent with his play. I'm being a little more tough on him this year than I have in the past."

That secondary will come in handy considering Seattle plays five games against quarterbacks who finished in the top 10 in passing last year, including games against the Colts (Dec. 24) and Packers (Jan. 1) and two games against high-scoring St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger.

The Seahawks also appear to have made progress in the front office. New team president Tim Ruskell watches every practice from the sideline, then watches videotape of the practices. Not only did former president Bob Whitsitt disagree often with Holmgren, his background was in the NBA, not the NFL.

Not surprisingly, the exec with NBA experience was a little lax with some of the team's troublemakers. The new regime? Not so much. They discarded starting tackle Chris Terry (suspended for violating the league's drug policy) and starting wide receiver Koren Robinson (arrested for alcohol-related reckless driving).

Robinson was the team's best deep threat. His departure means Bobby Engram and Joe Jurevicius are in the mix to be the number two receiver. Neither has much speed, though at least both of them have sure hands. Robinson had 10 dropped passes last year.

The other set of sure hands belongs to the left side of the offensive line: tackle Walter Jones and guard Steve Hutchinson. Jones (6-5, 308 pounds) did not allow a sack last year.

He also may be in for a bigger year, if that's possible, considering he was present at the start of training camp for the first time in four years. He did so partly to help with the younger linemen, one of whom -- likely second-year pro Sean Locklear (6-3, 301) -- will replace Terry as the right tackle.

Hutchinson (6-5, 313) is nimble for his size; he was a standout basketball player in high school.

They block for running back Shaun Alexander, and must be doing a good job. Alexander set franchise records with 353 carries for 1,696 yards last year. He hasn't missed a game in five years.

Shaun Alexander will carry the load for Seattle, with a little help from some big people in front of him.