Ruskell looks back, forward to next year

  • By Scott M. Johnson / Herald Writer
  • Friday, January 19, 2007 9:00pm
  • Sports

KIRKLAND – Disappointing. And yet encouraging.

Underachieving. And yet quite an achievement.

When team president Tim Ruskell describes the Seattle Seahawks’ 2006 season, his adjectives run the gamut of emotions.

During an end-of-the-season wrapup with local beat reporters Friday, Ruskell described the 2006 season as “our Murphy’s Law year,” in that anything that could go wrong did. In his next breath, Ruskell lauded his team’s perseverance and offered a proud reminder of just how close this year’s Seahawks were to going to a second consecutive NFC Championship game.

What a season it was, indeed.

“It was an abnormal year,” Ruskell said, offering the number of injuries to high-profile players as proof. But he also added that the 9-7 record and second-round playoff exit were not good enough to meet expectations.

“We do have enough talent,” he said. “We do have a good enough coaching staff. We do have good fans. Our stadium’s unbelievable. We’ve got so many things going, we should do better.

” … Everybody’s got injuries, whether it’s your major players or your backups. The year before, we had fairly significant injuries, and our backups took the flag and ran with it.”

Ruskell added that coach Mike Holmgren did a masterful job of weathering the storm of constant personnel changes.

“He hung in there,” Ruskell said.

But in the end, it wasn’t enough.

“I thought the last game was a composite of the whole season,” Ruskell said, referring to last Sunday’s overtime loss to Chicago. “We had spurts of brilliance, things looked good, missed opportunities – it just all played out in one game. And it was hard. And even standing there on the sideline, I still thought we were going to win the game.

“Guys played their guts out, with great heart – all season long.”

While he will continue to evaluate the past, Ruskell took time Friday to look toward the future. Among the many topics he covered:

* Offseason surgeries: Ruskell confirmed that quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had surgery Thursday to repair a torn labrum on his non-throwing (left) shoulder. But Ruskell said that Hasselbeck should be able to participate in offseason programs.

“He’s not going to miss everything because it’s his left shoulder,” Ruskell said. “He can still throw. He won’t be able to take a shot, but he wouldn’t anyway. I’m not the doctor, so I don’t know, but I wouldn’t just write (the minicamps) off.”

Ruskell also said that defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs had microfracture surgery on his knee, a more serious surgery than initially believed. Tubbs’ status for training camp is up in the air.

Among the other players contemplating offseason surgery are tackle Walter Jones (knee and shoulder scopes, after the Pro Bowl), safety Michael Boulware (shoulder and ankle), running back Maurice Morris (ankle), center Chris Spencer (both shoulders) and offensive lineman Tom Ashworth (hip).

* Coaching staff: Ruskell confirmed that special teams coach Bob Casullo and defensive backs coach Teryl Austin have moved on.

The Dallas Morning News reported Friday that former Dallas Cowboys assistant Bruce DeHaven has been hired to replace Casullo. Austin’s assistant, veteran coach Larry Marmie, is among the candidates to take over as defensive backs coach.

* Free agency: Ruskell said that the team expects to re-sign kicker Josh Brown before free agency begins. Ruskell was less specific when asked about the future of tight end Jerramy Stevens, who is also scheduled to become a free agent.

“We haven’t made that decision yet,” Ruskell said. “Everybody seems to have their opinion, and I want to do it the right way. Jerramy knows he can play better.”

As far as offseason needs, Ruskell listed defensive end, secondary, offensive line and tight end among the areas that could be addressed.

* Front office: Ruskell said that vice presidents Mike Reinfeldt and Ruston Webster are both candidates for the vacant general manager position with the Tennessee Titans. Both scheduled interviews with the team, but the Titans have yet to make a decision.

Six days into the Seahawks’ offseason, there have already been some changes. And more are on the horizon.

By no means is Ruskell ready to blow things up and start over again, but the next few months could see a lot of player movement.

“I think you’re going to see a pretty good transformation of our roster,” Ruskell said. “Some on retirement, some from guys who aren’t going to be back. You’re going to see a pretty good transformation. I can’t give you a percentage, but there are going to be some battles, some new people on this roster. We’re prepared to do this.”

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