The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that ex-Seahawks general manager Tim is a candidate worth paying serious attention to for the Browns' vacant general manager position.
The CPD, citing sources, states that Browns owner Randy Lerner has a very high opinion of Russell. It should be also be noted that Ruskell was interviewed for the GM position in 2005.
The CPD also reports that Ruskell is not adamant on changing coaches, making it a smoother transition for the Browns if he is indeed hired (inaccurate claim, we'll get to that later).
Part of the reason I am writing this is because the Plain Dealer failed to do any significant research regarding the Seahawks. I was smirking while reading through most of this article.
Here are several passages from the piece that I believe discredit that the paper, and I hope they see this, too.
"Ruskell's demise came largely as a result of an 9-19 record the past two years. Prior to that, he presided over three playoff seasons, including one in 2005 that saw the Seahawks—then coached by Holmgren—reach the Super Bowl."
This is when I started smirking. Ruskell inherited a loaded roster in 2005 that just needed some touching up on the defensive side of the ball. The roster he inherited featured the likes of Holmgrenpicked products Steve Hutchinson, Robbie Tobeck, Sean Locklear, Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander, Darrell Jackson, Bobby Engram, Koren Robinson, Jerramy Stevens, Grant Wistrom, and Rocky Bernard. All were starters and significant contributors on the Seahawks 2005 Super Bowl squad.
The main reason Ruskell was brought in was because he was viewed as a defensive complement to Holmgren's offensive prowess. The fact that he overhauled the defensive side of the roster was the entire point of his hiring.
Still, there should be no doubt that without Holmgren, Ruskell's opening act with the Seahawks would have fallen well short of a Super Bowl bid.
The Plain Dealer attempts to paint the picture like Ruskell was the reason the team made three playoff appearances during his tenure, only to miss the past two seasons, thus, making us look like the bad guys when they fired him after the last two seasons unraveled.
Holmgren's time building the team as he pleased ended in 2003, just as the Seahawks began their five-year playoff run. By the time Ruskell became GM, the Seahawks had made consecutive playoff appearances for the first time since the 1987—1988 seasons.
Plain and simple, he inherited a goldmine and supplemented that with several under-the-radar players such as Bryce Fisher, Andre Dyson, Kelly Herndon, and Joe Jurevicius.
His lone bright spot as Seahawks GM came when he netted the Seahawks Pro Bowl linebacker Lofa Tatupu and current starter Leroy Hill in the his first draft.
Supporters of Ruskell still cling to the fact he gave us Tatupu, but isn't it the GM's job to be able to bring in impact guys and hire the right scouts to make a good pick such as Tatupu?
Current Seahawks I could actually give Ruskell a pat on the back for getting, besides Tatupu, are:
DE Patrick Kerney: Provided instant impact with 14.5 sacks. I can't fault Ruskell for giving him the six-year deal; it's what it was going to take to fill the need. Now, Kerney is an average starter being vastly overpaid.
WR TJ Houshmandzadeh: Although he's underperforming, he is still on pace to finish among the top WRs in Seahawks history this season. Sad huh? His fiery demeanor is also something this team needed, always good to have a bit of a headcase on the roster once in awhile to spice things up.
DT Brandon Mebane: A young rising DT whose production is being hampered due to the lack of an effective pass rush.
WR Nate Burleson: Neck and neck with Houshy for top receiving stats this season for the team.
TE Jon Carlson: Has a bright future as a top TE in this league.
But five names pales in comparison to the 11 Holmgren products who started for us in the Super Bowl. And consider Ruskell's laundry list of duds:
WR Deion Branch: Essentially traded then top WR Darrell Jackson and a first-round pick for Deion Branch and Mansfield Wrotto.
C Chris Spencer: BUST.
G Rob Sims: Should not be starting in the NFL. You can't expect the world of a fourth-round pick, but maybe the fact Ruskell only drafted a pair of lineman above the fourth-round is the reason why he was forced to play in the first place.
RB Julius Jones: Awful running back who cannot even succeed in a zone blocking scheme fit to his style. His numbers as a Seahawk cannot even outdo Shaun Alexander's injury plagued 2006—2007 seasons. Fans would welcome Alexander back in a heartbeat after seeing Jones.
G Mike Wahle: He makes the list because he was simply Ruskell's pathetic attempt to cover up his massive Steve Hutchinson dud. The day Hutchinson left doomed Ruskell.
CB Kelly Jennings: One career interception in four seasons ought to be enough for bust status.
DE Lawrence Jackson: Nearing bust status with six sacks in two combined seasons.
DE Cory Redding: He makes the list after one season. Ruskell traded Pro Bowl LB Julian Peterson for a guy who technically averages 1/5th of a sack per game.
Just the fact the duds on the current roster outweigh his few bright spots makes the Seahawks decision to fire him justifiable.
The CPD cites Mike Reinfeldt as the real culprit behind Hutchinson’s departure. With complete control of the roster happenings, Ruskell had the final word in the Hutchinson case, so that point is moot.
Also, it should be known that prominent offensive players such as Walter Jones, Matt Hasselbeck, and Shaun Alexander were all willing to take reduced paychecks to keep Hutchinson in town. Jones' also was willing to negotiate without a franchise tag, making it possible for the Seahawks to slap it on Hutchinson instead.
The fact Ruskell didn't want to pay the best guard in football is what led to his departure, Hutchinson cited the way he was treated by the Seahawks brain trust, headlined by Ruskell, as the main reason for his departure.
Another one that made me laugh:
"Tim is a cooperative sort," said the source. "For example, he went to Seattle and accepted and worked with Holmgren even though it was common knowledge that Holmgren resented losing his other titles [as president and GM] to Ruskell."
Ruskell was the driving force that kicked the Seahawks' most beloved figure, Mike Holmgren out of the door. They butted heads many times on philosophy and personnel, and the tension reached its climax when Ruskell traded one of Holmgren's favorite playmakers, Darrell Jackson, to a division rival for what is now a reserve guard. It very well known among the Seahawks brass and supporters that Holmgren wanted to stay with the Seahawks beyond 2008, he has even gone on record and stated it, but Ruskell wanted his own coach and wanted to cast Holmgren out.
The fact that Ruskell is out the door and Holmgren is halfway back in is conclusive proof that it was Ruskell who booted Holmgren out of Seattle.
Another laughable excerpt:
"The Seahawks slumped to 4-12 in 2008 because quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was injured. and Holmgren packed it in as a lame duck coach. Ruskell already had tabbed Jim Mora as Holmgren's successor. The Seahawks are 5-7 in Mora's first season as coach."
Matt Hasselbeck's demise can be attributed mostly to an offensive line that Ruskell neglected. The Seahawks were bitten badly by the injury bug, which can also be attributed to the roster of ineffective players Ruskell put together (not talking about old guys like Hasselbeck and Jones, but younger guys like Deion Branch).
To say that Holmgren packed it in is completely inaccurate, the roster assembled for him by Ruskell crumbled, and he had to work with the pieces that were left.
After seeing some of these inaccuracies, I even question the validity of the Ruskell to Cleveland rumor. But the fact that he was interviewed for the job in 2005 certainly gives this rumor a pulse.
Certainly something for the avid Seahawks follower to keep an eye on, if Ruskell does indeed land in Cleveland, it's going to be interesting to see how he rebuilds an even worse team then the Seahawks now. Let alone keeping a loaded roster together and re-tooled.