Seahawks players know their futures are at stake
The judgment of Ruskell's five-year tenure in Seattle has been rendered. The final verdict on this team he assembled, however, is another five games away.
Seattle Times staff reporter
49ers @ Seahawks, 1:15 p.m., Ch. 13
Judgment Day arrived Thursday morning at Seahawks' headquarters, the top two men in the Seahawks' football food chain sitting side by side in an auditorium.
But while the team announced Tim Ruskell was stepping down as president and general manager, its players were hip-deep in preparations, about an hour away from taking the practice field.
"We were firing away," quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said.
The judgment of Ruskell's five-year tenure in Seattle has been rendered. The final verdict on this team he assembled, however, is another five games away, and coach Jim Mora wasn't buying the idea that Ruskell's departure could send the message that the year is already classified a failure, leaving nothing left to play for.
"Nobody that matters will look at it that way," coach Jim Mora said. "Nobody that's going to take the football field on Sunday will look at it that way."
A lot remains on the line for Seattle, and that's not because the playoffs remain a possibility in a strictly mathematical sense. The Seahawks (4-7) are coming off their largest rushing output of the season and seeking to maintain that momentum against San Francisco's stout rush defense, ranked fifth in the league.
Mora is a coach in his first year seeking results from the new offensive and defensive systems he has installed, and he's in charge of a roster stocked with veterans who have another month of opportunities to play for their future.
"We all know what's at stake," Hasselbeck said. "Every single guy in that locker room realizes that just like every other year, how you play will determine your status for the next year. Whether you're in this league or not, whether you're starting or not, whether you're on this team or not. That's unchanged."
There will be plenty of time over the next few weeks and months to ponder the future of the personnel department and decide who to trust with the two first-round picks Seattle holds in next year's draft.
But right now, the Seahawks still have a season to try to save.
"We're scrambling a little bit trying to hang onto our season and recover, so our focus really has been there, needs to stay there," Hasselbeck said. "A lot of these types of decisions, although they affect us, they're kind of way over our heads."
There's one singular best way to keep your job in the NFL: winning. And when Mora was asked about any uncertainty he may feel now that the man who hired him has stepped down, Seattle's first-year coach didn't care to look too far down the road.
"Our focus is quite simply on getting better every week," Mora said. "Making sure this team continues to take steps and believe that we're doing the right things, and in the near future, it's on preparing to go out and play a great game."
That puts the onus right where it has been since this season started: squarely on the roster Ruskell assembled.
"All this stuff falls back on the players," said wide receiver Deion Branch, acquired by Ruskell in a 2006 trade with New England. "He's done everything he possibly can to put this team together and to line things up the right way."
The Seahawks have five games left to show that before the roster is subject to the same type of judgments passed in the franchise's front office this week.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.