Matt Hasselbeck: On a Mission to Prove He Still Belongs

Lars HansonAnalyst ISeptember 4, 2009

Seahawks starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck—now entering his 11th year in the NFL, two in Green Bay and nine in Seattle—still has a lot to prove to his critics and, most importantly, himself.

It was close to nine years ago when Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren brought him in from Green Bay. Holmgren was in Green Bay with Hasselbeck, and when he came to Seattle he knew he had his quarterback in the Boston College alum.

Nine years later, Hasselbeck is considered one of the top five or 10 quarterbacks in the NFL.

However, Hasselbeck has really fallen out of that elite list the last three years due to injuries.

In 2007, the one year when Hasselbeck did not miss a single game, he had his best year in the NFL, making the Pro Bowl and leading the 'Hawks to the playoffs. 

That season he posted 28 touchdown passes, 3,966 yards, and only 12 interceptions in 16 games. He reached career marks in touchdown passes and passing yardage that season. As for the other two years, he missed four games in 2006 and nine games in 2008—both times the Seahawks finished with nine wins or fewer.

In 2006, the Seahawks finished 9-7 and won the NFC West. In 2008, the Seahawks finished 4-12 and picked fourth overall in the 2009 NFL draft.

So the message those statistics clearly show is that when Hasselbeck is the starting quarterback, the Seahawks are a top-flight team. When he's not the starter, the Seahawks are average at best.

In his 11 seasons in the NFL, Hasselbeck has three Pro Bowl appearances ('03, '05, and '07). He only has one Super Bowl appearance in which the Seahawks lost to the Steelers, 20-10.

There are mixed feelings with what went on during the Super Bowl, but in nine years he's made one Super Bowl appearance. He's a great regular season quarterback, but when it comes playoff time, he needs all the support he can get. 

This offseason was probably one the most pressure-packed for Hasselbeck, with rumors that the Seahawks were pursuing Jay Cutler and considering rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez.

However, Jim Mora Jr. decided to give him the most dependable wide receiver in the NFL, and one of the must underrated and undervalued in T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

This preseason, that looks to be the biggest and smartest move out of any this entire off season; in three games, Hasselbeck has four touchdown passes.

Two of those four have been to—you guessed it—Houshmandzadeh. The other two have been to John Carlson and Deon Butler.

Now this offseason, even though Mora gave Hasselbeck a boost by telling him that he's the quarterback in Seattle, the Seahawks acquired the Denver Broncos' first-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.

That pick is looking more and more like a top-three pick, with quarterbacks Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, and Jevan Sneed being the top three quarterbacks, in that order, most likely entering the draft.

If Hasselbeck has another season like he did last season, he's going to be either traded, retire, or be the one holding the clipboard.

On ESPN's NFL Live, Mark Schlereth picked Hasselbeck as the NFC West breakout well as the NFC West player on the hot seat, with my exact same reasoning.

If Hasselbeck doesn't lead the Seahawks to at least a 10-6 record and back to the playoffs, then he's most likely played his last season in the NFL. And with the first pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks will select Sam Bradford, quarterback, from Oklahoma.

So with the season a few weeks away, we'll see if Hasselbeck can return to prominence, even with a shaky offensive line protecting him.