I thought it would be interesting to check in with Sehawks GM Tim Ruskell and see what his last few weeks have been like, what with all the injuries to wide receivers and him having to ramp up search-and-rescue missions for players. Here is that interview:
What have the last few weeks been like where you see receiver after receiver go down and it is your job to replace them? It goes back further than that obviously, having what happened in the offseason, with Deion coming back from his injury, then Bobby getting hurt in camo then Nate going down and then Logan going down. So it seems like it has been going on for two months. But I felt like we did the best we could to navigate the best we could. And getting guys like McMullen in here, and Bump going up and getting the job done. It could have been a disaster if those guys didn’t give us anything, but they did, and they helped us bridge the gap as we get to Bobby and Deion getting back. It has hurt us surely because that is a bread-and-butter position for us. But I felt like everybody was involved in getting these guys in and having the young guys ready to go, and I feel like we have weathered the storm.
What is the process for pursuing street free agents, especially multiple? One of the main priorities we said to ourselves, since we are in-season and we have only three days to get a guy ready, if we can at all possible, let’s look at the guys who have some experience in this system so we are not starting at ground zero. It’s a hard enough system if you do know the system. But to bring a guy in who has not been affiliated or have knowledge of the West Coast (offense), that has been a disaster in terms of how long that takes.
Why is that? Just because it is Mike’s system, in it’s basic form, and over the years he has layered, layered, layered. So if you haven’t had some kind of experience with that, you can catch on to the rudimentary basic stuff pretty quick, but now go the little nuances that these guys all know. That is very tough.
Well let me ask you this then: If you have all these layers upon layers, what happens next year when Mora takes over and they have to unlearn a system that is so layered? We are not going to go away from this system. We are going to do everything we can to stay similar. We have Matt Hasselbeck. We are not going to be silly about that. I can’t tell you how that is going to shake out, but we are going to stay pretty much as close as we can.
So you have a list of guys. How many guys are on the list? It varies. We try to keep it 10 deep. And then you divide it up into veterans and young guys. Which do we need here? Do we need a backup guy who is not going to play much and play special teams or is this guy going to play? So you divvy it up that way.
And how much do logistics take into account? Like, McMullen was in D.C., a full day of travel away already? What we did during training camp when we started to have the injuries is we brought most of them in and got the workout done, or somewhere else. We had the numbers already. So it lessens the time it takes to get them ready to go.
Is that your call or do you and Mike collaborate on that to figure out who will fit best into his system? Mike, his whole mantra that whole time was, if you are going to bring in a street free agent, please cater it toward somebody who has been in the offense. McMullen was with Andy Reid and Jim Zorn, so he was the perfect candidate. That was really a stroke of luck there that he was available and he had all that experience.
Is that sort of an exhilarating time for you because that is the time for you to shine in your job, or is it, Ug, not again? No, we don’t think like that. We are gung ho, right? Will Lewis does a great job, Ruston Webster, John does all the contract information, the trainers are involved. It gives you a heightened sense of intensity because we don’t want to mess this up. We want to get the exact right people. Whether it be a trade, like we did with Colbert, or a guy we have to bring in and work out, like McMullen. The key is as quickly as you can possibly get it done, get it done so we can get him to the coach so he can start learning. Don’t lose a week here going through all the logistics you are talking about. Get it done.
How hard was that decision to make about Colbert? I know how much you value draft picks and they are building for the future and you feel like it is patchwork? Right. I hate giving up picks and Ruston does too. So with those guys, our filter and criteria was, let’s get a guy we also feel we have a future with. And we think we did that with Colbert.
With what you have seen out of McMullen, what is his future with you guys? Shoot, this guy has stepped in here, has caught the ball, he fits what we do and who we are as a team culture-wise. I don’t know. I don’t know what his future is. But we are very happy with what he has done so far.
I guess the question is, What is he doing sitting on a couch? When we talked to Jim about him, he really liked him. So that is probably a good question. I can’t answer it. I can just say I am glad he was out there.
How does that work? You have relationship obviously out there, but you are also competitors. So you call Jim, but Jim also knows that he will be playing you in five weeks or whatever the case is? It doesn’t get to that. McMullen played his heart out for him. He is happy that the guy is getting a chance. So it doesn’t get to that point. Maybe with somebody we don’t have a relationship with, sure. I would say sure, that happens.
In retrospect, how about the Koren signing with his knee and his inability to practice? We knew because he had not done anything, and he missed all the camps and missed everything, there was a period where we have to get him right, get him in shape and get him working. We wished it had gone quicker, we wish he was ready, but it just didn’t happen that way. So it is dragging on a little bit.
Now that it looks like you have most of these guys back, do you have to restructure the roster elsewhere or do just kind of let it ride? We have to look at that. This if the first time back for Bobby. This is the first time back for everybody. Let’s make sure we have everybody back healthy and ready to go before we would make any adjustments. We worked so hard to get this group up, let’s not give it up or give it away right now. Let’s make sure everybody is healthy and ready to go for the rest of the season.