"We're not content with a losing team, and if we don't win we're going to make changes," he says.
An expensive proposition. After the Hawks' 4-12 finish in 1980, Coach Jack Patera got a new five-year contract. When the '81 season ended at 6-10, Nordstrom came charging out of his department store, swept Herman Sarkowsky aside as managing general partner and vowed eternal vigilance.
Unless the defense does a complete volte-face from the last six years, the offense will have to carry it again. Usually the offense shows a banged-up running corps, a creaky line and a frantic, throw-on-the-run passing game. Now the runners are fairly healthy, but the line is still searching for deliverance, and Quarterback Jim Zorn will be doing his scrambling on a left ankle containing a metal plate and six screws and encased in a white high-top shoe. A broken ankle in Game No. 13 created that.
The party line is that the defense will be "vastly improved" in 1982, but we've heard that before. The Seahawks insist that No. 1 draft choice Jeff Bryant, out of Clemson, wasn't as silly a pick as everyone thought, that he's the starting defensive right end and will remain so for many a season. Even Patera, whose permanent legacy will be that sideline image—massive forearms folded across a swelling chest, eyes blazing, jaw clenched in anger—seems to be softening.
For the first time players can wear beards (neat and well trimmed, please). They got a day off after an intrasquad scrimmage, and Patera allowed drinking water on the practice field—always a no-no in the past. Then the whole thing went kapoof when Patera imposed a half-a-game-check fine for Seattle's pregame handshake demonstrations before the opening exhibition. That tariff was voided by the NFL management council, but the players will remember.