Golden Pat Ruel at USC
Veteran acquisition Chester Pitts is still recovering from last season’s microfracture knee surgery.
Would-be savior Russell Okung is still sidelined with a high ankle sprain garnered during the preseason.
New Seahawks giant Stacy Andrews has been playing guard (poorly, and rarely in regular season games) the last 18 months.
And now, Alex Gibbs retired unexpectedly.
The offensive line has been the Seahawks’ most glaring weak point since their “unsuccessful” Super Bowl run five years ago and Pete Carroll and company have been dutifully addressing the issue all offseason. Now it seems all that bricklaying was for naught as we enter the preseason with a new offensive line coach and no healthy offensive linemen.
Carroll acted quickly Sunday after Gibbs’ announcement and brought in Golden Pat Ruel, adding to the already long list of former Trojans now employed by the Seahawks. Yes, Ruel knows Alex Gibbs’ famed zone-blocking scheme (as utilized at USC). Yes, he knows Pete Carroll’s coaching style. But, he doesn’t know the players he is working with, their strengths or their weaknesses.
A rotating coaching staff does not work in the NFL (just ask the Bills).
Last year the same tattered patchwork line we’re starting to see this year was taken advantage of by the rest of the NFL to the tune of 5-11. The Seahawks could not keep possession, could not complete plays, and could not win games. With Gibbs at the helm at least fans could trust the coaching staff’s ability to improvise in a tough situation.
Maybe, though, Ruel isn’t such a disappointment. He is no Alex Gibbs, but he does have quite a resume.
One year playing guard for the Miami Dolphins in the early ‘70s and five years coaching the offensive line in the NFL—for four different teams—from 2000 to 2004, with various college coaching gigs in between.
Pete Carroll’s replacement at USC, Lane Kiffin (last year’s coach of the infamous Tennessee Vols and this year’s recipient of a lawsuit from the Tennessee Titans), deemed Mr. Ruel under-qualified to lead the Trojans to no bowl games for two years and didn’t retain his services.
The qualifications overwhelm.
Plus, should fans worry that Gibbs chose now to retire? Is it an omen for a losing season? Is the Seahawks’ offensive line that flawed, that hopeless? If Gibbs felt that way, how can fans hope that Ruel, his mere playbook protege has any more chance of success?
Ruel has four days to figure out who to put in at left tackle and how to keep the thirsty ‘Niners from mining through to Hasselbeck.