In an attempt to figure out why, exactly, 90% of Hawk Nation wants this guy's head, I decided to look back over his now 5 year reign in Seattle as the GM, from 2005-2009 (I believe he was present in 2004 but not yet GM.) I really don't understand why he takes so much heat from Seattle fans, but figuring that every anti-Ruskell Hawk fan couldn't just be insane, I wanted to piece together a real argument. So...here it is.
I guess the first barometer of a GM's overall success is the team's overall success, so...
05: 13-3 Regular Season, 2-1 Postseason
06: 9-7 Regular Season, 1-1 Postseason
07: 10-6 Regular Season, 1-1 Postseason
08: 4-12 Regular Season
09: 2-4 Regular Season
Overall: 38-32 Regular Season, 4-3 Postseason
Now obviously, things are dropping off so I understand, somewhat, the frustration with Ruskell's moves making us worse over time, but it's very difficult for any team to sustain success over many years, with the nature of the NFL, and we had a streak of 5 straight postseason appearances and 4 straight division titles.
I also see the argument that Holmgren or Bob Ferguson built the super bowl team, which hung over into division winning teams for two years, and has finally fallen apart. Yet I can't help but look over the drafts since 2005...
Two studs, a capable starter, and someone who might be something in Willis
Kirtman was a terrible pick from the getgo, and Plack didn't work out, but the first three guys are all contributors, and Obomanu has gone above and beyond what I expect from a 7th round pick.
Alright, I fell out of my chair at the Wilson pick...but his corner play has been pretty good for the most part and his return skills are top notch. Mebane is a monster. Atkins...who knows, I like Wrotto, Herring has done good things when he's gotten on the field, Taylor and Kent are admittedly just preseason warriors but it's not totally their fault we've stocked up on WRs recently, and Vallos isn't my favorite guy but he's started games for us.
Jackson is a solid starter, Carlson is a beast, Bryant and Schmitt are two guys who really haven't done much yet but I still like them, Tyler I don't know what's going on with him, Forsett was a great steal for us, and Coutu did nothing but good things for us and we were just afraid to pick the youngster over the veteran.
It's folly to judge the 09 draft class at this point in time, but Curry has been playing fairly well, we'll know a lot about Unger this year if the line keeps getting injured, Butler looks like a great #3 or #4 wideout, and Nick Reed is Nick Reed.
That's 4 studs and 14 reasonable picks in 4 drafts, with no egregious busts other than Kirtman who was a 2nd day pick anyway. Were there better players at most of those picks? Sure, but by that logic there are a lot of GMs out there who need to get fired. Now, don't get me wrong, I'd rather have Elvis Dumervil than Darryl Tapp when it comes to undersized pass rushing DEs that went in the 06 draft. Maybe we could have gotten a similar talent to Chris Spencer in a later round and used the 05 first rounder on Roddy White. But on the whole, are these drafts that bad?
If we don't go offensively heavy in the next draft(s), I'll agree Ruskell's mind isn't right, and right about now we sure could use a blue chip offensive linemen. Yet, I can't help but look at the projects at OL we've drafted recently (Unger, Willis, Sims, Wrotto, Vallos), and feel that Tim was at least considering the issue and simply spending lower picks on multiple players to try and hit on a couple of them, so I think the notion that he ignored the position entirely is untrue.
Then you look at the free agent signings, and players Ruskell brought in through methods that were not the draft. Julian Peterson, Nate Burleson, T.J. Houshmanzadeh (too early to judge but I like what I see so far), Colin Cole (same), Bryce Fisher, Cory Redding (same), Deon Grant, Olindo Mare, Jon Ryan...it's a pretty solid group of pickups. Now, I'm not the biggest Julius Jones fan, but I don't think he's the reason we lose games, so I'm not going to say he was a screwup. I will say giving Shaun Alexander that big contract was the wrong call, if ultimately pretty harmless, and the Hutchinson thing was a total fiasco, and Brian Russell apparently had a shelf-life of one season before turning into a complete turd...but I see more positive than negative all around here.
But here's the major reason why I'm not ready to abandon Ruskell: His emphasis on character. I firmly believe what got us to the super bowl in 2005, a year after a 9-7, one-and-done year, was a refocusing on work ethic and character. Ruskell allowed this to happen by cutting players like Anthony Simmons, Koren Robinson, and Chike Okefor, who may have been good players but seemed to underachieve for us and may have been of questionable character. This, to me, changed everything about this team, and Ruskell was the man behind it. Fast forward to 2007, Stevens is coming off an excellent postseason, but he did one stupid thing in the offseason and we realized this guy just doesn't get it. So getting busted with drugs or whatever it was did what dropping 3-4 passes in a super bowl couldn't, and he was gone.
So, could any Ruskell hater explain to me why we shouldn't give him the opportunity to attack a 2010 draft that will have options at quarterback and offensive tackle for us and see what he does?