Tim Ruskell has distinct ID challenges in that he looks like Karl Rove and believes in intelligent design. The good news: He isn't Karl Rove, and the smart design he preaches as new president of the Seattle Seahawks is strictly limited to his football team, which is an evolving organism whether Kansas school officials like it or not.
Ruskell, who apparently never heard of the Oakland Raiders, Billy Martin, Mike Tyson, et al., believes personal character equates to sports success. The Hawks, of course, have harbored lots of characters. Departed wide-out Koren Robinson, for example, showed up intoxicated for his drunken-driving jail date July 20. What a character.
A bright Hawks future based on the natural selection of a roster of quality human beings is fine in theory. However, even after the 34-15 trouncing of the Saints on Friday, Aug. 12, in an exhibition game in New Orleans, few but the true-blue believers think the Super Bowl is at hand. As is typical, the starters in New Orleans sat after a few series of downs, leaving the "game" to rookies, walk-ons, and wanna-bes who might not even make the team for the Sept. 11 regular-season opener in Jacksonville.
This much was apparent, though: If the Hawks always played as they did the first three minutes last week, they'd wind up undefeated and world champs. They stuffed the Saints, with safety Michael Boulware, last season's be-everywhere guy, recovering a stripped ball. A run, pass, and extra point later, the Hawks were ahead. Then reality set in, with pokey pass rushing, blown tackles, and bungled punt and kickoff coverage reminiscent of the worst letdowns of the 2004 season.
With the score 7-3, Hawk quarterback Matt Hasselbeck couldn't find a receiver, which might prove to be the problem for Ruskell and coach Mike Holmgren. About 10 prospects are vying for six pass-catching spots, and nobody emerged as the next Steve Largent. Seneca Wallace, the talented backup quarterback, threw several catchable balls that were dropped. Then he seemed to say, "Screw this," eschewing the pass and running 24 yards for a score. Wallace was said to be a big question as backup quarterback. After his 12-for-20 passing (it should have been 15 for 20) and Michael Vick–like scrambling, about the only real question is: Why isn't Wallace starting for some NFL club?
Eleven key Hawks who are injured stayed at training camp, making it even more difficult to assess what the team will look like against Dallas at Qwest Field when practice games resume Monday, Aug. 22. It's part of the Ruskell team's ongoing problem with ID.