Matt Hasselbeck is one of those guys who is often exempt from criticism. He’s a veteran who has had a relatively long and prolific career, and is generally regarded as a leader both on and off the field. When it comes to the struggles of the Seahawks, we generally give Hasselbeck a free pass.
But after Sunday’s loss at Arizona—a game in which Hasselbeck threw for 315 yards in the process—we need to place at least some of the blame for this team’s indiscretions at the feet of number eight. Frankly, we can ill afford to spare him any longer.
In the past, we’ve had a tendency to put the onus for losing on a number of different targets. A porous offensive line, an inconsistent running game, receivers who can’t hang onto passes. The fact is, we can only make scapegoats out of certain people so many times before the words ring hollow. And our scapegoats have been the same for two seasons.
What about the rest of the team? What about a guy like Hasselbeck?
When healthy enough to play, Hasselbeck has been playing at an unacceptable level for more than a year. That could be for any number of reasons, including the ones we listed above.
On top of that, he’s been hurt. Frequently. And he’s played hurt. Frequently.
You have to respect Hasselbeck’s willingness to put the team before himself, before his body, and before his future. But unfortunately that gutsiness can only be used as an excuse for a certain amount of time before it becomes a crutch to stand on.
Hasselbeck has earned our respect. He’s earned our patience. He has a passion for the game that is unrivaled, and absolutely gives the Seahawks the best chance to win under center. Plus he’s a likable guy that is as down to earth as anyone else. All of this allows him the freedom to stink up the joint every once in a while and suffer no consequences.
But Sunday's game was different. We witnessed a new side of Hasselbeck that epitomized the frustration of a miserable 3-6 season. Instead of the savvy, confident, capable game-manager that we’ve grown accustomed to finding on Autumn weekends, the second half of Sunday’s loss brought forth a jittery, panicked, exasperated Hasselbeck that showed up at precisely the wrong time.
The Seahawks had this game. A game that would have salvaged their season for a week, and likely longer. They led 17-10 at halftime, then stood idly by as everything unraveled.
Amidst it all was Hasselbeck, who engineered the downfall of his ball club. One costly interception, then another. Passes thrown well out of reach of receivers. Passes thrown into double, and even triple coverage. And time and again, when walking off the field following an abbreviated drive, here was Hasselbeck—the leader, the captain—with head hung and a look of unmitigated acrimony on his face. It was like a child on the verge of a tantrum.
Losing wears on us all. Fans, media members, coaches, and, most importantly: the players. But leaders are who we count on when we’re down. On Sunday afternoon, at University of Phoenix Stadium, the Seahawks were searching for a leader where none could be found.
I like Matt Hasselbeck. I’ve always liked him. Most fans and media members alike can echo those sentiments. As I alluded to before, part of the reason we spare him from criticism is because he’s our brother, our son, our dad, our friend. He’s a guy we all feel we can relate to.
But every now and then we need to put our emotions aside and do what has to be done for the team. In this case, we need to put some of the blame for this most recent loss and, in turn, all six of the Seahawks’ losses on Matt Hasselbeck. It's time.