It doesn't take an advanced degree in Calculus to understand the Seahawks were a disaster of a football team in 2008. To be fair, I never saw this F-5 tornado of a season coming and I've been a fan since 1982. Our beloved franchise was nothing more than an a mere afterthought midway through the 2008 season, with most of it's fan base eyeing draft picks over victories.
Our front-office is running with all the effectiveness of a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest and our head coach couldn't be more lame-duck if he were 'working from home' at this point. We are crippled beyond any possible point with a staggering 14 people sent to injured-reserve, a point that must be underlined and highlighted, when they pen the 2008 NFL season in review book.
So how did this happen? How do you go from penthouse to outhouse in a 3-year span? Injuries killed us for sure, but there were other culprits in this crime. There was situations that could be handled light-years better, decisions that could have waited and some we should still not know about yet.
"The 'Front' Office"
There are two sides to every story and that goes for Seahawks fans as well. The Steve Hutchinson debacle has only one side and we lost big time.
I tend to think that Tim Ruskell has graded out as a "D" thus far during his tenure as Seahawks GM. My obvious first issue is the (bring in the dead horse please yes just put him right there thanks ) is the Hutchinson debate. All I'm going to say is that if you are not smart enough to franchise him to begin with, I'm not sure I want you running my football team, plain and simple.
Some fans seem to say, "he didn't want to be here" or "it was his decision to sign the poison pilled contract" I say "whatever". I don't care what he wanted; he would have been franchised from the moment contract negotiations stalled. Just franchising him would have made 'sound business sense' in the respect of what we could have gotten in return via trade for him or even better but unlikely, the two number on draft picks from his franchise status. Not to mention it kills any possible poison pill possibilities, which still has not (to my knowledge) been addressed by the NFL, which means with Ruskell we may actually have a chance to play this 'transition' game of tag again. Wonder how we will fare next time?
Most Seahawk fans, and I said most, are excited to that Jim Mora will be the new head coach of the Seahawks. And to be honest, I like his youthfulness and the energy he can bring to the franchise but if he was to be the new Seahawks coach, we should still "NOT KNOW IT".
I see and read and hear Seahawks fans ride both sides of the fence on this issue. "What would we do if Holmgren just left and we had no one in place?" "What if the Huskies lured him away?" "What about the stability of the franchise?" I wonder what these fans expect. How do you think NFL teams have done it for years? This new trend of naming head coaches before the old one is gone is absurd.
My opinion on the subject; I think had we kept this subject mum we could have "possibly" had our pick between Zorn and Mora. No doubt it set the franchise back in Zorn's eyes, but honestly how could he pass up the Skins job let alone with Mora in place? I also think had this decision been put-off this football team (those who are no in the hospital) would not have to look over two shoulders at practice with eyes on Mora and Holmgren.
This football team is now in a state of dysfunction that I have not seen since 1992. Things around here are going to have to improve exponentially and I am not just speaking of injuries healing up. Our front office needs to use this housecleaning this off-season to clean up bad decision-making and start anew with the upcoming draft. I, for one, am putting Tim Ruskell on notice, one more screw up and it's the Ray Rhodes treatment for you.
And speaking of front office screw-ups, lets look at what we have done under Ruskell's regime as far as the draft goes. We have had some hits but our number one's have left a lot to be desired thus far.
Under Ruskell- Draft Notable/Un-notable Re-Cap:
2005- My Grade: B. Chris Spencer with the #1 was a classic 'need' pick with Robbie Tobeck aging, but thus far Spencer has failed to live up to round three statuses, let alone round one. We did have a 'steal' in rounds 2 and 3 with the additions of Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill respectively.
If you look at Ruskell drafts, this is the Ruskell apologist home run, from this point on though it becomes a real puzzle. Tatupu and Hill were hits, but we squandered our number one with Spencer trying to fill a need, with the best available draft pick a re-occurring theme it seems.
2006- My Grade: C-.We went with a CB, Kelly Jennings in round 1 to stabilize a secondary that was in my opinion, still recovering from the loss of Ken Lucas to Carolina. The hope was that Jennings would help take pressure off Marcus Trufant, allowing our 'undersized' front seven to pressure more. Alas, neither has happened. Jennings thus far has been underproductive and a liability on the deep ball. And this is with Trufant usually handling the number 1 WR in coverage and future head coach Jim Mora holding the reigns. We also added the under-sized Darryl Tapp and Rob Sims neither of whom at this point have had little to any impact.
I graded it out as a C- and I feel that is a pretty generous grade. The Ruskell apologist will point out that 'We had to fill a glaring need" with our pick of Jennings, "What would you suggest, a kicker in round one?" My point is only this; sometimes the most obvious position of need cannot be addressed merely by throwing a first round pick at it. If obvious talent is there, take it. Don't just draft for requirements sake, after-all, square pegs seldom fit in round holes.
2007- My Grade C-. The trade for Deion Branch has worked out perfectly don't you think? Nothing like ponying up a number one pick for someone who has played for the Seahawks just a little more than I have the last two years. Admittedly, our record with drafting in round one is suspect at best, but a new popcorn vendor picked at round one would have helped this franchise more than Branch has and I bet, at a fraction of the cap-hit Branch requires. The only and I mean only bright spot was the pick up of Josh Wilson with our second rounder, fifty-fifth over all. The kid is a lightning rod on special teams and may have some good years ahead of him at cornerback.
In all honesty this draft should be graded out as a D but given the potential of Wilson I bumped the grade by half a click. To the Ruskell apologist I say only this; "Why in the hell are we taking a cornerback two years running with our first pick?" I admit it was a second rounder, but it clearly shows the lack of faith the front office has/had in Kelly Jennings, whom they drafted only a scant year before at the same position?
2008- My Grade: C. It not for the emergence of John Carlson this could easily be a failing draft grade. His performance under the weakest of offenses saves this draft. I am also going to give Lawrence Jackson a year or two before I label him with the 'bust' moniker, due to the difficulty of the defensive end position. Other than that, this draft looks more 'supplemental' than rational.
The Ruskell apologist will say, "We draft for need and base that along with the mantra, character plays an integral role in building a winning attitude." I say I agree to a point, but thus far our first round/first picks have yielded little to no fruit. I'm not saying not to draft smart, just make the most of our draft. Especially with a top 5 pick coming down the road in a few months. If we drop the ball on this pick, the whole season will have been for naught.
The Ruskell Free-Agency Era- A few big hits, one big miss.
Thus far Camp Ruskell has fared relatively well in the free-agent market with big hits with Deon Grant, a true work-horse, Julian Peterson, a beast of a linebacker and the addition of Patrick Kerney to help stabilize an undersized, sub-par defensive line. It was the hope that these additions would help solidify the Seahawks defensive unit for years to come and it may very well provided the health gods smile upon them.
As far as the big miss that would have to be Nate Burleson. I honestly think it was as much a 'spite' signing as much as anything following the Hutchinson debacle. I mean one poisoned pill laced contract deserves another right? I know Burleson will not make the seven year 49 million dollar contact that was mentioned, but I mean, really, at whatever price he gets he is a waste of cap space considering his lack of production and his oft-injured status. Not to mention that kind of coin for a wide receiver with only one thousand yard receiving year to his merit in 2004. Since then he has been sub-par at best, and more likely than not listed as doubtful or out on your weekly injury report.
The Ruskell apologist will argue that last year he was 'semi-productive' with nine touchdowns receiving and two 90 yard plus kick-off and punt returns, and I agree not too shabby. But given his "fragile" body and cost, I'd rather save the money and put it towards our 'decrepit' offensive line. He is at best our third receiver and that's after an aging but solid Bobby Engram and the oft injured, over priced, Deion Branch. That alone, speaks volumes to his cost to value ratio.
No matter how you see it or what side you're on this has been a tough season for us all. Luckily for us tough times don't last (if you can forget how bad the 90's were) and tough Seahawks fans do. Most, but not all of our problems have been on the injury front this year. With a 'lame-duck' coach, questionable front office calls and the 'gypsy curse' of injuries we have had we should have seen this coming. We you put an astonishing 14 people on IR you know things are headed south and that everyone from owner Paul Allen to the head ball boys assistant is feeling the pinch. I do think though that things could have been handled differently as time went by, but no one, not even God himself could make silk purse out of this sow' ear of a season work out like it has the last five.
I do see this team as a competitor in 2009 and not a total re-build. Given our weak division and with a little good luck on the injury front we will contend for a playoff spot. Of course a lot rides upon the decisions going forward under the new Ruskell/Mora regime and that begins in three weeks. My parting words to Tim Ruskell and Ruskell apologists alike, you're on the clock in more ways than one my friends.
Scott Norris is also known as Hllywood on NET Nation. You may e-mail Scott by clicking here.