The last few weeks we have read story after story saying it was time for Holmgren to come in and replace Ruskell. Now that we have reached the point of Ruskell resigning, the vogue story is that Holmgren is not a lock and that the Seahawks should engage in a thorough search before making the decision. I’m not exactly sure that these are really mutually exclusive things, but I will tell you what I have learned.
Leiweke was invested in Ruskell. I’m not convinced he was ready to let Ruskell walk now, or after the season. Check out this quote:
“I work for a man, Mr. Paul Allen, who has exacting standards on that. It’s also his opinion that this is a unique and special franchise, and with it comes expectations. So, bottom line, we didn’t win enough games.”
Pass the buck much? What remains to be seen is if Leiweke is bitter about being forced into this move. Signs to watch out for would include making the search more exhaustive than would seem appropriate, recoiling when asked about Mike Holmgren, and saying things that would help sway public opinion away from Holmgren (i.e., “This franchise needs a fresh direction”). Check, check, and we’ll see on those. If there was a guy out there who had been mildly lobbying for your pal’s job and constantly thrown in your face by fans as a super hero, it would not be hard to imagine a little distaste developing.
I believe Holmgren is the right guy on a number of levels, most importantly, he has already rebuilt this franchise once before from an even worse state than it is now. Beyond that, we’ve had a GM with a defensive bent for years and have stockpiled a fair amount of talent on that side of the ball. It still seems like we are a disruptive lineman and good scheme away from being good enough on that unit. The offense needs rebuilding, and that’s Holmgren’s specialty. We need to build a viable offensive line, find a special running back and figure out who Matt’s successor will be. Despite picking Shaun Alexander, I question Holmgren’s RB evaluations, but he’s developed two offensive lines and two QBs that reached the Super Bowl.
Holmgren’s qualifications aside, this will be a delicate dance. Paul Allen will be the wild card. I believe he’s a Holmgren guy, and will need to be convinced that someone else should step in. I think Leiweke will be skewed against Holmgren, so there will be an interesting check and balance there. Holmgren is also harder to predict than some may think. He will be genuinely interested in the Browns job, and maybe the Bills job. He likes to build from the ground up where there are little-to-no expectations of winning early. Total control and low expectations is a nice way to work. His ego is also a proven part of the equation. Any attempts to confine his power that appear artificial, or indicate less than total confidence in his ability will drive him away. That may be Leiweke’s best chance to sabotage the process. If he lets Mike in the door, but insults him with constraints, Holmgren will bolt.
Public opinion will be Leiweke’s greatest adversary if he really does want to distance himself from Holmgren. His job would be on the line if he picked someone else who again did not pan out. Picking Holmgren, and having it fail would be criticized as unimaginative, but that’s not usually a firing offense. Being pig-headed by going against the grain to pick anyone but the obvious choice is putting your ass on the line. Hmm, who else seemed to do that in the Seahawks front office the past five years?? How did that work out for him?
As much as I’m in the bag for Holmgren on this, I actually am eager to hear about the other candidates. What happens if Paul Allen’s big bag’o’money can get Scott Pioli and Bill Belechick? I realize that’s crazy, but you never really know. I want the Seahawks to be champions. Whoever can take us there is fine by me. If it’s not Mike Holmgren, though, you better be damn sure you get it right.