Here's the rest of my take on the Ruskell regime. With all due respect, if you're not interested or think it's too long, just skip it and go to the next article. Don't stress over it. I was asked to do this by several posters so I did it in depth as it is my nature to do. Tomorrow, I'll post my take on the new Pete Carroll regime which will be equally long but give us the opportunity to put the Ruskell era to bed and discuss trhe future instead of trhe past.I think Ruskell did make some legitimate mistakes that figured into the equation that described his downfall. First of all, he didn't recognize that the team was bleeding so badly in the two years following the Super Bowl and didn't pay enough attention to at least three or four key positions. Hutch was gone leaving a huge hole at left guard. Walter Jones and Matt Hasselbeck were both on the list of aging players who could be expected to start slowing down after the end of the 2007 season. Alexander was never himself again after injuring his foot in the 2006 season. There should have been players in waiting to take over those positions or an emphasis placed on replacing the talent we lost. His penchant for not looking at players without squeaky clean character scores probably kept them from acquiring a couple of players who could have helped us a lot. I thought he should have loosened up his character requirements a bit and realized that you have to have some enforcers and nasty dispositions on the field if you want to be a tough team and play that way. His not going after Michael Oher when he dropped so far in the draft last year bothered me because I perceived it to be that Oher wasn't on his radar due to the character filter so he never made the connection. I already mentioned that he probably should have not of hired Mora right away and might have saved his job if he had hired a better head coach who could have hammered out 3 or 4 more wins this season regardless of the injuries. To continue, press Read More below.
Although Ruskell left not having accomplished his goals and was held responsible for the demise of the Seahawks single handedly by a number of fans, I don't think he turned out to be as good as I thought he was but certainly not as bad as many called him out to be after he resigned.
Mora probably did more damage to Ruskell than Ruskell did to Mora. Mora brought in his good buddy Knapp for the OC job and Knapp did a poor job for him making the team look bad against even poor competition. I saw Mora as a great motivator when the season started but by season's end, he had become unsure of himself but never taking the blame for anything. He looked like he didn't know what to do and it was visible that the team had quit on him before the season was over. Although it was evident the main reason the team was so bad in 2009 was Mora and his coaching staff failing to motivate and prepare the players as well as create and execute a game plan while demonstrating the ability to make real time adjustments during a game. Ruskell did have the correct vision of his proper place by taking full responsibility for that failure noting that the buck stopped with him. He understood the bottom line of any NFL team and recognized that his performance didn't measure up to the lofty goals he made when first joining the team.
After Ruskell left, apparently he sent Mora an e-mail criticizing his public support of Holmgren in an apparent attempt to secure a job in the new organization if Holmgren were hired. Ruskell was said to have felt that it was disloyal for Mora to do that and sent the e-mail in protest. No one knows if there was an e-mail for sure or if there's more to it than what we've been told but Mora purportedly revealed the e-mail to KJR sports personalities to make Ruskell look bad. Mora also mouthed the words, "Pete Carroll cheats" off mike during a radio broadcast that was filmed and reported on here at SA. I think Ruskell made himself look like he has a character flaw by sending that response to Mora but Mora was even more classless by showing a private communication to the world. I'm sure there are bitter feelings between those men that will take time to get over and both let something go public that should have remained private.
Lots of fans and analysts have noted that the Seahawks aren't as bad as their record and that there is a core of talent to build around on the team. It's been noted that the team is 4 or 5 players away from fielding a pretty decent squad. To me, that puts more of the responsibility for failure in 2009 on Mora rather than Ruskell and though lots of people are saying that Mora suffered by being tied to Ruskell, I think it's more the other way around. Ruskell wasn't renewed because Mora, Knapp, and Bradley couldn't coach the players to improve during the season or overcome the adversity of the early season injuries. That didn't absolve Ruskell of shouldering the responsibility for not winning more than 9 games over the previous two years regardless of circumstances that may have been present. In his press conference after he resigned, I was proud that Ruskell acknowledged that the bottom line was wins and he wasn't able to get enough to be retained.
Something had to change and it started at the top and moved down. I was leery about Mora's security with Ruskell gone. After everyone evaluated the season and saw clearly that the team wasn't responding to Mora's coaching and the fact they got worse as the season progressed, the only decision that made sense was to clean out the nest altogether and start over. Although, I can see many good things Ruskell did for this team, they couldn't offset all the problems and Ruskell was never able to catch up on the holes that occurred on the team during his watch so he paid the ultimate price and rightly so.
While many of you Addicts just crucified him mercilessly after he resigned, I say "thanks for what you tried to do for my team and especially for what you did get done. It's too bad more things didn't break your way or you would have had more supporters and the team would have won more games and preserved your job for you. Good luck in the future unless your future organization is playing the Seahawks." While I admit that Ruskell didn't fully live up to my expectations, I don't think he deserved all the blame and innuendo that was leveled at him and I found it distasteful that more people couldn't have expressed thanks for what he tried to do and the effort he made in the attempt.
I know many of you will take great exception to how I feel about Tim Ruskell and his efforts to bring us a championship. I defended Holmgren with the same intensity and will be behind Pete Caroll as well as you'll see tomorrow when I present my piece on the new regime. I believe that those individuals have the best interests of the Seahawks at heart and genuinely work hard trying to bring us a championship. The fact that all have failed to do so doesn't diminish my appreciation for the honest effort they made trying to make it happen. As Ruskell leaves having failed to win a championship and leaving the organization in worse shape than when he came on board, I have sympathy for him yet appreciate the effort he made because I feel that he really tried hard to make good decisions as well as taking risks some of which backfired on him and added to his demise but all in the name of raising the level of play on the team even if he got hurt in the process.
Tim Ruskell didn't deserve to have another contract awarded to carry on his program here in Seattle and I'm glad we're going in a new direction but neither does the effort he made deserve to be trashed and discredited. If you concede that the Seahawks do have some core talent to build a new team around instead of basically having nothing to start with, that's due to what Ruskell did right and no one else. If that talent wasn't used right or motivated to play with 100% effort, that was the coaches fault and not something Ruskell did wrong except in the hiring. Let's start down the new path but let's give Ruskell his due and only blame him for what was truly his fault. He embraced Seattle and tried to make a difference. That should count for something.
That's it. My wrapup of the Ruakell era is finished. I'm as excited as all of you are to bring in the new front office and head coach and get this bus on the road. Tomorrow, you'll read why. To those who made it to the end, thanks for reading. I hope it was what those of you who asked me to wrapup my thoughts on Ruskell wanted.