Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Week's Worth, From Bill T

by: Bill Tomisser

Well guys and gals, I’m calling it a season as far as our playoff hopes go. With the Miami loss and the Cardinals' win last Monday, I think it’s too far-fetched to think we can make up the ground to get back within two games of Arizona and take the division with a couple of wins against the Cards. Color me disappointed; I especially feel bad for Holmgren, who certainly deserved to out on a better note than this one.

While not mathematically eliminated, we would have to win our remaining 7 games to get to 9–7, whereas the Cards only have to win 3 out of their next 7 to get there. Arizona has home games remaining with the Rams, Minnesota, and the Seahawks, and has a very good chance of winning at least those three. We’ve got road games against Dallas and the Cardinals. At home we face the Patriots, Jets, and the Redskins, as well as the Cards. Only the game down in St Louis seems a good possibility for a win right now. We’re in miracle territory for the playoffs now.

The Miami Game

The good thing I took home from the game was that we were competitive and were in the game right up until the final whistle. The team played hard on both sides of the ball and, as I’ve observed all season long, no one was giving up. We had a couple of breaks go in Miami’s favor again and another crucial penalty called against us, and that was the difference. We certainly played Miami tougher than a lot of teams have this season, as they have shown themselves to be a quality team since Parcels took over.

The Good

Engram made it through the game without dropping a pass. This is the first game where Engram has been what we expected him to be and this is the first time now in fours weeks he goes in “The Good” portion of my column.

Are Josh Wilson and Justin Forsett getting us some return yards, or what? 66 yards on 2 returns for Wilson and 49 yards on 3 returns for Forsett. Wilson continues to play well at the CB position, showing us why Ruskell picked him.

Seneca played well for once and he did make a couple of scrambles Sunday before hurting his groin. I wonder how much that had to do with how effectively the offense moved the ball against the Miami defense the rest of the day, as that was the suggestion I made last week to loosen up the Dolphins' defense.

The running game had life and used one RB primarily, which was another suggestion I had made last week in noting that the platoon system didn’t seem to be working. It seems to have paid off as JJ had a pretty good day and was getting stronger as the game progressed, which is the whole point of giving one RB a chance to get into the flow of the game.

We made big plays that kept us in the game last week, although we could have made more if our receivers hadn’t dropped perfectly thrown passes in some crucial situations. In my opinion, that was the difference in the game.

The defense rose to the occasion and played well also, and our talented back seven augmented the front four by bringing effective blitzes all day to keep Miami off balance and Pennington unable to just sit back in the pocket and carve us up as other opponents have done this season. It seemed as if the blitz scheme was working fine against Miami.

The team played with enthusiasm and never quit. We just didn’t have the guns to get it done and we missed our opportunities by dropping too many passes. I talked last week about how team spirit and the will to keep playing hard for the entire game were attributes that Holmgren instilled in this team and how hard he has worked to overcome the inertia of the loser's mentality that pervaded the team before he took over. That whole dynamic was in full display Sunday, and I can’t agree with anyone who thinks the Seahawks to a man didn’t give it their best shot.

We sustained drives and gave the defense some rest against Miami, which appeared to give the defense a big boost as they held Miami in check for a good part of the game. That is more the style of defense that has worked during the Holmgren regime, where the offense keeps drives alive and the defense comes in and plays with intensity and uses its speed to force turnovers and get the offense more opportunities. When one part works, the other part works too. Funny how that happens, huh?

To Continue . . .

The Bad

Wahle again killed a major play with a false start. What’s wrong with that guy? I believe that he’s played very good in Seattle’s overall line play this year, but he’s had penalties that have killed critical plays in the last three or four games. Is he just having a bad day over and over or is it a pattern that maybe he had displayed with Carolina before coming to the Seahawks? I still believe that Wahle can help us next year and don’t advocate getting rid of him, but something should be done in practice to ensure that it doesn’t happen again this season.

And then there’s Keary Colbert. I was going to bitch all about him and his not being able to make the catch, but he got his butt canned so why bother? I do defend Ruskell’s decision to make a trade for him, as there just wasn’t anywhere else to go unless we wanted to deal with a much higher pick. He was doing everything he could to get Holmgren some receivers to save the season at that time. Ruskell turned over every rock and Colbert was what he found (I guess we now know why he was found under a rock . . . the slime).

Carlson hasn’t held on to quite a few big play catches in the last two or three games. He’s just a rookie and I suppose he must have a lot on his plate just running a good route, but to become that special player some of us think he can be he’s going to have to concentrate better and start hauling those passes in that mean a big first down or TD. In his interview’s on KJR he claims that he’s taking his eye off the ball and does an outstanding job of manning up and taking the blame for the miscue. I feel good that he’ll get it worked out and he does appear on his way to becoming a very good TE. Another feather in Ruskell’s cap.

The Ugly

There were a lot of dropped passes last week from almost everyone. That really was the difference in the game as far as I was concerned. It almost looked like it did back when we had the dropsie twins, K-drop and D-Drop, and were league leaders in dropped passes. If I recall correctly, they designed some special drills to help them to overcome the tendency. Maybe it’s time to resurrect some of those drills?

Mike Wahle moved into the ugly side of things with his 3rd straight game in which he’s torpedoed a crucial play with a penalty. This week he makes both “The Bad” and “The Ugly” section because it was a potential game killer. I’ve already had my say about him, but I just had to list him again as a problem.

The Week From Your Comments.

I think the funniest comment I came across from one poster was the ludicrous idea that if you gave him millions of dollars instead of his current $20 an hour wage that he would bust his ass to go out there and learn to catch a floating football, like it was an easy job and a few million would make all the difference. When I used to coach Pop Warner football I was at one point coaching in the older division (13 and 14 year olds) where kids were starting to show some real ability. We used to observe the difference between practice and playing catch versus game time when the pass is for real. Playing catch with someone lobbing it slowly is a far cry from catching that same slow lob while everyone is watching you and there’s a dude on his way to separate your head from your body as soon as the ball gets there. At that point, it becomes way more difficult to concentrate and money doesn’t mean squat. It's the same principle as if I painted two parallel lines one foot apart for 100 yards and said that you had to walk in between those lines for a hundred yards without stepping outside the lines, then we placed a 100 yard long and one foot wide steel girder 200 feet up in the air and asked you to perform that same walk on the girder. It's the same 1 foot wide path, only if you go outside the lines on the ground no problem--if you go outside the lines on the girder, you fall to your death. That makes a huge difference.

Some of you are acting as if this isn’t a big deal to the players and that it’s just another day at the office to them. GET REAL! They feel this loss way more than the maddest one of you think you do. Trust me here.

Some of you have blamed the loss to Miami on Carlson, Wahle, Holmgren, Ruskell, Marshall, Robinson, Colbert, and Wallace. You guys need to get a grip. All these guys didn’t singlehandedly lose the game. A lot of you guys are showing real poor skills as fans, too.

Another poster said that Colbert was a piece of crap and he can’t fathom why Ruskell would give up a 5th rounder for him. How quickly we forget how it was just a few weeks ago when we didn’t have ANY receivers. NONE, boys and girls. And none were available anywhere expect for guys like Colbert who at least had played football the last couple of years. If Ruskell had made a big deal with our first round pick to get an overrated WR in desperation and we watched our top 5 pick go elsewhere while we had another receiver bought with that first round pick to show for it, a lot of you would have gone ballistic. That’s why none of you could be a urine specimen cup holder for Tim Ruskell.

I even saw the suggestion that Frye would have won the game against Miami if he had played instead of Seneca. Holy crap Batman, how far out are we going to get? Frye hasn’t played nearly as good as Seneca has over the last few games while Matt has been out. To even suggest that shows a serious lack of watching skills.

Everyone was totally on board with Ruskell’s picks last draft, and now I see plenty of BS about him making awful picks with those high round choices that everyone anticipates we’re going to get. What a bunch of hypocrites!

Odds And Ends

A lot of you guys were highly critical of Ruskell for not immediately signing Koren Robinson when we desperately needed WRs and there was a lot of discussion over loosening the character rule to bring in guys like him to make the team tougher or whatever. After watching Koren play, I think it was much more likely that Ruskell was more concerned with whether Koren was going to be able to help the club all that much than he was with the character issue. Koren appears to be the same Koren we used to see after he was drafted and had acquired the nickname K-Drop. In Miami, he dropped two balls for every one he caught. He would make a big catch, then kill two drives by dropping balls Seneca put right into his hands. Maybe Ruskell was more concerned with how well Koren can play than anything else?

I’m really sick of guys who think they can do such a hotshot job as GM. They act as if it’s easy to pick which out of the highly touted players in each draft will actually be the real players in the NFL and who will be busts. Before you go and stand up with your hand in the air, I'm talking about making that assessment before the draft, not after watching the players perform in the NFL for up to three years and then making your snide little comment about how Ruskell can’t judge talent and how much better you could have done in a draft that's come and gone. What I really want to say is that not a one of you pseudo-GMs is worth the little hair that grows on the birthmark on Tim Ruskell’s ass, but I won’t.

If you lined up all the players who are productive players now on the Seahawks' team as well as past guys like Darby and Jurevicius and then put the question marks like Jennings, Russell, and Sims on the other side of the equation, you get around 4 or 5 players who everyone is down on and around 25 to 30 players who are starters, backups, up-and-comers, or haven’t been decided yet. Even Jennings and Sims are really in the haven’t been decided yet category along with guys like Spencer, Obomanu, Payne, Taylor, and the ever-present Wrotto. When you’re talking about a GM who has had virtually every player he's drafted make the team over the last three years, you’re talking about a talent evaluator who is something special, particularly when you consider he’s drafted at the bottom of every round since he’s been here and hasn’t had a draft choice higher than the 20s. Those of you who are pushing the jokes about Ruskell not being able to handle a high round pick should watch him come out with a draft the likes of which we’ve never seen before in Seattle if he drafts at the top of every round.

Weekly Topic Of Discussion

This week, some your comments really angered me. After I pointed out how bad things used to be with the Seahawks last week, some posters just decided to throw barbs at everyone connected with the Seahawks, and worse yet some had the gall to suggest that they could do a better job of coaching, selecting players, devising schemes, and on and on. I’m never going to name names, but I don’t really care whom I offend here so if some of you recognize yourselves, go tell your minister or someone else who cares. If you don’t want to read this and want to go on being a great big negative drain on real fans, go on to the Hasta and I’ll catch up with you next week.

Some of you guys are so far off the tracks that I wonder why you torture yourselves by claiming to be a Seahawks fan. Football has always been a game of ups and downs for every team. It’s a natural cycle to have some bad seasons and then acquire some blue chip talent in the draft and hire a new head coach who rallies the team around him and moves it up through the ranks to be a challenger once again. For Seattle, that pattern never got the team up high enough to become a challenger for the first 25 years of its existence. Then came Holmgren, and after working his tail off he brought Seahawks fans the greatest 5 years of football we’ve ever seen. Then Ruskell arrived and time after time has come up with players like Darby and Jurevicius to man critical positions and at the same time not blow our cap doing it. His draft choices have all made the team except for his first draft when he had to conduct the draft after only having been here around three weeks, which isn’t nearly enough time to put together a decent draft board. It was inevitable that sooner or later the Seahawks were going to stumble, and this season was it when a number of factors which we’ve all discussed to death came together to crush the team. Any true fan of this team should be grateful for the great 5 year run that was the pinnacle of this franchise’s history, and while disappointed that it had to end coinciding with our best coach ever’s departure, will carry a warm spot in their Seahawk heart for Holmgren and this group of players who made it the most memorable time in our history. We’re so fortunate to have Tim Ruskell to carry on in the future and take on the task of bringing us back to the level of excellence we’ve come to expect from Seahawk football. There are probably some good-sized bumps on the road ahead to travel over too, but I feel confident that Ruskell will move quickly and decisively as he always has to solve the problems and get the team back on track.

What I don’t appreciate is the attitude some of you are taking that all these guys who would have been held in our highest esteem if the season had unfolded as we thought it would before all the injuries took their toll have all of a sudden turned to crap before our very eyes and the notion that someone has to be at fault and bear the stigma of being the person responsible for the collapse. One of the first things both Holmgren and then Ruskell did when building the team was to get rid of players who didn’t play team ball in every aspect. Any player who would point fingers at another or try to assign blame for things not going right was removed from the team because that’s counterproductive and promotes bad chemistry. The team won as a team and lost as a team. Everyone was responsible for doing his part for the team however big or small, but if something failed everyone bore the responsibility for making it right.

Oh that we could do that with fans, too. Some of you have responded with the worst attitude and it makes me wonder if you didn’t support someone like the Raiders in a previous life. You go around and point fingers at everyone from players to coaches to front office personnel and then boast that you could have done a better job. You try to destroy any good feelings other fans might have about our team because the players and coaches are still trying hard to win and aren't giving up. We’re outmanned right now and possibly have some emotions that are hard to deal with concerning the coaching turnover and who’s got a job next year and so forth that are hurting the team, but where does that give you a right to call yourself a fan and then go badmouthing everyone and everything while boasting that you could do better? If I could do what Holmgren and Ruskell did, I’d remove some of you as fans and tell you to go find another team because you’re ruining the good chemistry of Seahawks fans with your selfish attitude that you’re feeling the pain worse than others (including the players) and that you can just go around gunning for the head of everyone associated with the franchise. Everyone grumbles when the franchise doesn’t win, but if you’re a true fan you don’t get nasty about it and point fingers behind their backs at the very people that you’re going to try to cheer on to victory next week (like they were your buddy all the time). I like to think we all lose or we all win as fans too, and while we can be miserable together we’re like a family and need to be supportive of each other, fan and team alike.

Michael does such a great job of continuing to be positive about all aspects of Seahawks football. He criticizes aspects of the teams play and some of their decisions, but he does so in a respectful way and always with the understanding that they are much more qualified to make those decisions and have inside information available that none of us have when we try to play armchair GM or head coach. I’ve never seen Michael suggest that he could do a better job than any of the highly experienced professionals that run and coach our team. For all that, he’s able to make his displeasure for certain aspects of team play known and offer very pointed criticism against any part of the team he thinks deserves it, all without rancor and all in a manner that suggests that he’s still very much supportive of the team and its players. In fact, he’s a Seahawk Addict--the chief addict, if you will. Here’s the point of all the praise for Michael: some of you need to take a page from his book and make it your own to learn how to be critical yet still supportive, and it starts with stopping the finger-pointing and innuendo and all the suggestions that you or any other idiot could do a better job.

I would ask all Seahawks fans to try to walk the high road, and while it’s okay to criticize and be disappointed, it’s not okay to get nasty and call people idiots and suggest that anyone, including yourself, can do the job better. It’s not really okay to cherry-pick one event from a long list of events in a person's work history and try to make your case based on those few events, excluding all the good examples (like "Tim Ruskell used the wrong tag on Hutch so he’s a terrible talent evaluator and can’t draft offensive players"). Try to watch how Michael does it and you’ll see a true fan at work who deep down considers the Seahawks like family, and you don’t treat family like some of you have treated the Seahawks' management, coaches, and players in your comments.

Once again, I’ll say that I’m going to be at the next two Seahawks games in Seattle, and if anyone wants to try to get together and meet face to face, please leave a comment and I’ll try to answer and make the arrangement. For the Cardinals game, I’ll have my son with me and I have two other friends from another Seahawk site who I’ll be meeting who also have sons and daughters with them (all underage) and we’re going to try to meet somewhere where we can all sit down and have some food and some face time before the game. I’d be happy to include anyone from here who would like to meet before the game. We might just go to the convention center, but I’ll keep anyone interested informed. We just can’t do a bar because of the kids.

As you read this, I’m flying to Seattle from Anchorage. I’ll be reading you comments later tonight and then the next column will come from Seattle next week.


Bill Tomisser
Anchorage, Alaska