This was the perfect opportunity for Seahawks president Tim Ruskell to explain how profound he is in his desire to put character as the primary focus when building the personnel for this organization.
Three years and three months after making Koren Robinson one of his first major veteran releases as president of the team in 2005 because of off-field indiscretions, Ruskell signed off on bringing back the rehabilitated wide receiver as the potential antidote to the stunning loss of six wide receivers to injury that have played a major role in the Seahawks 0-2 start.
A week after coach Mike Holmgren and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck lobbied to bring back Robinson, Ruskell and his staff went deep into Robinson's present day situation and concluded at 28, with two children and his wife pregnant, this is a different guy than the one three years ago.
Ruskell addressed the situation Tuesday on a conference call with the media.
"We did a lot of research," Ruskell said. "We didn't just do this haphazardly or spur-of-the-moment. A lot of people in the organization were involved. Initially when I heard, or Coach had brought it up, I was against it, just because everybody knows what our commitment is philosophically in terms of character. My first involvement with Koren, he was going through some tough things and some bad incidents that had gotten public.
"My whole deal was, we just can't have knuckleheads around here. That can't happen.
Coach had actually brought it up initially, along with Matt through a third party, talking about the meeting he had had with Koren in this retreat. That was really the initial talk. Like I said, initially, (I was) against the idea, but once we started doing our research, (we) sent (pro personnel director) Will Lewis out to meet with Koren, and (player liaison) Maurice Kelly, we started hearing favorable things that kind of verified what Matt had been saying about, 'This is a different Koren.'"
That's not to say this is the start of a change in concept for this team. Ruskell, along with vice presidents Ruston Webster and John Idzik, are steeped in the focus of building a team on character first that they were raised on by Jerry Angelo in Tampa. They won a Super Bowl there under those auspices, and made it to Super Bowl XL the first year here.
Ruskell said that Lewis and Kelly concluded his priorities in life had changed thanks to his family, so it should make it a much more practical transition back to excelling in football.
"We didn't do this lightly," Ruskell said. "This was a lot of talking. This was a lot of research. And I could be wrong. We could be wrong. But you know, Koren's a good person. You want to give him his due. I think all of us believe in second chances, and this has a chance to be a good story. It could be because he wants it as bad as anybody and we would like it to happen too.
"Coach has a special relationship with Koren. He brought him into this team. I have to hear all of that. I have to listen to that. I'm not just, 'Okay, he did this, boom, he's out.' I've never been that way. But our philosophy is in tact. Koren knows it, and he and I have a side agreement on how that's going to go, and that'll stay between us, and that'll be very important. I expect it to go well. I understand the criticism, but I had to make the best decision for the football team. We had to make the best decision for the football team, and we believe we've done that."
Now for the e-mail of the week:
All things considered the offense played well this past weekend. Obviously the turnovers were extremely costly, but the area that concerns me most is the secondary. Their coverage was shaky even with the pressure on a young quarterback like J.T. O'Sullivan. They also kept many Niners drives going with costly penalties. This has got to change if the defense wants to be a "Dominant D" like they talked about all preseason, because they are nowhere close to that right now. Just wondering your thoughts are on this and what needs to change for them to be successful. Thanks for all your insight.
It's too early to quit on a secondary that led the entire NFL in fewest touchdowns allowed and entered the final week of last season touting the "lowest quarterback rating" until that crazy loss at Atlanta pushed them out. Obviously there were problems in the loss to the 49ers. There were breakdowns for a lot of reasons, some of them occurred when O'Sullivan escaped the pocket. Other times, there was a blown coverage or a crushing penalty.
The good news is there are 14 games left and there was the entire 2007 season to see what these guys are capable of accomplishing. And when you blow a coverage in the secondary, it's there for everyone to see, so you can count on these guys being prepared for this weekend because they have to prove themselves this week and each one that follows. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,
With all the new skill players on offense how limited is coach Holmgren on his play calling?
Sure, with all the new faces and inexperience, that has shrunk the playbook in the passing game to a certain extent. That's why it helps a lot bringing back Koren Robinson because he already knows the terminology and routes, plus he had four years with Matt Hasselbeck. Keary Colbert also knows the West Coast offense – although the Mike Shanahan version – from Denver.
This has been a tough start, no doubt. This is a huge game with the Rams Sunday, and win can change the temperature considerably, with the bye week to follow to lick their wounds. The hope is that Branch and Engram will be back the following week, and momentum could change in a hurry. Perhaps we have just experienced the storm before the calm. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,
Obviously, it's WAY too early to hit the panic button for the season, but with the Giants, Packers, and Bucs on the horizon after the bye week, the chances of us catching Arizona anytime soon doesn't seem likely. We need a spark for the offense. Any chance we give Josh Wilson a shot at wide receiver His speed can't be ignored.
That's not the first time it has been brought up about Wilson, but the reality is with most of those cornerbacks if they were really good at catching the football, they would already be receivers. Ever noticed how many times a defensive back drops a ball thrown right at him? Just because they are very athletic and appear to have good hands doesn't meant they are cut out for being receivers.
It isn't logical, but in most cases, it happens to be the truth … regardless of how much the defensive backs argue to the contrary. And with the additions of Robinson and Colbert, it's no longer necessary to put pressure on other positions. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,
Why did we release Justin Forsett? He showed that he can run the ball.
It was a tough call as it came to the cuts and the need to add wide receivers. Forsett had a great game running the football against the Bears in the preseason, and showed flashes in other games. But keep in mind it was the preseason against second and third-team defenses, and the Seahawks already have Julius Jones, Maurice Morris and T.J. Duckett ahead of him, with Leonard Weaver also playing spot halfback.
He was well-liked, which is why he was drafted, but only injuries made him a possibility because of his return skills. Nonetheless, they planned on him clearing waivers as Jordan Kent did and putting him on the practice squad. It was unfortunate. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,
I was very disappointed to see us lose again. However, I was proud to see players except personal responsibility for what happened, and not just blame weather and injuries on what's going on. In a time of egos and "me first" it's nice to see a team that wins together and loses together. Nor-Cal Hawks Fan for 25 years and forever."
That is precisely why Tim Ruskell, Mike Holmgren and the staff place a premium on character on and off the field. Not only are the players accountable to themselves, but they are consistently accountable to each other. It has everything to do with why they have won four NFC West titles in a row, and why Ruskell stills to his perspective of ignoring the talented knuckleheads.
It doesn't require many bad character guys to poison a locker room, and that's why these guys have the ability to battle back after losses. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,
I'm curious after all the talk about winning on the road, what kind of change will there be this season?
Well, we'll have to wait and see, and we'll find out pretty quickly after the bye week, when they play at New York against the Giants, come home to play the Packers, and then travel to Tampa Bay and San Francisco. Two weeks later – with the Eagles playing at Qwest Field in between – they travel to Miami. So that's three out of four and four out of six away from home after the bye week.
It appears Holmgren has no interest in fiddling with the schedule of flights. They'll fly in two days before on games in Eastern Standard Time and day before with all others. One change he did make was the strict 11 p.m. curfew, which considering it's 8 p.m. PT, apparently had the opposite effect than its intention – so that should help for a more fitful sleep. Otherwise, it will just be up to the offense to deal with the noise factor and the defense to muster up its own intensity as opposed to having the Qwest Field crowd give them additional energy. Thanks for writing.
Yours in sport,