Seattle Seahawks' Rewind: Don't Blame Matt Hasselbeck for This Season

Chris CluffCorrespondent IIDecember 28, 2009

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 27: Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Seattle Seahawks is sacked by Brad Jones #59 of the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on December 27, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Seahawks 48-10. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Don’t blame Matt Hasselbeck for trying too hard.

Yeah, he’s thrown eight interceptions in the past two games—both embarrassing losses because of opponent (Tampa Bay) or deficit (38 points to Green Bay). And yes, Hasselbeck’s turnovers (nine total, counting a fumble against the Bucs) are a major reason the Hawks lost those games.

But make no mistake: This season was lost well before these last two games. Heck, these losses only help Seattle’s draft position at this point. No matter what happens next week against Tennessee, the Hawks will draft in the top 10. And if, as expected, they lose and finish 5-11, they could end up drafting as high as sixth.

A cynic might say this season was lost when Jim Mora took over as coach. Or when he hired an inexperienced defensive coordinator and an underwhelming offensive coordinator.

Or perhaps this season was lost when Hasselbeck suffered broken ribs against San Francisco in Week Two.

Or maybe it was lost when Seneca Wallace failed to pull out a home victory against an extremely beatable Chicago team in Week Three.

Or it might have been lost when the Hawks laid an egg at home against Arizona in Week Six. Or when the line was down to its fifth left tackle by Week Eight.

It certainly was lost with a team-record seven road losses, most by blowout margins—34-17 in Indianapolis, 38-17 in Dallas, 35-9 in Minnesota, 34-7 in Houston, and now 48-10 in Green Bay.

And it was definitely lost when Mora and his coordinators failed to figure out how to use their personnel (they still haven’t).

But don’t blame Hasselbeck for trying to make up for a lost season, for attempting to make something happen on a discombobulated offense that features an inconsistent offensive line, no feature running back, receivers who can’t get open half the time, and a coordinator who has failed to use his personnel properly.

You want to replace Hasselbeck? With who?

Mike Teel? That’s hilarious.

With a first-round pick? You’ve got a 50-50 chance of that working out—in about three years.

No, despite his last two ugly games, Hasselbeck is one of the few good things about this team. Lost in the season-worst blowout in Green Bay was the fact that Hasselbeck became the Seahawks’ career leader in passing yards, overtaking Dave Krieg.

The point? Hasselbeck has been this team’s leader for most of this decade. Get rid of him and this team will be leaderless heading into the next decade.

Hasselbeck is guilty only of trying too hard to fix a broken offense, of trying to do what his coordinator has not been able to do.

In Week Two, he was trying to finish off an excellent drive with a touchdown by running for the goal line. Instead of diving for the end zone, he went down in a fetal slide and was cracked in the ribs by Patrick Willis. That ruined a good chance of beating the 49ers in San Francisco as the Hawks usually do.

It also ruined a winnable game against Chicago the next week as Wallace showed he does not have the chops to win as a starter in the NFL.

Three weeks after breaking his ribs, Hasselbeck came back to lead a shocking 41-0 demolition of Jacksonville that gave the Seahawks’ fans a false sense of just how good the team was now that Hasselbeck was back.

The next week, the offense set franchise futility records in a 27-3 loss to Arizona—a game in which the battered offensive line let Hasselbeck get pummeled again and again. Then Hasselbeck hurt his throwing shoulder while making a tackle after an interception against Dallas in Week Eight.

Hasselbeck has been pounded all season, and the bad shoulder has limited his ability to throw deep. But he has tried. Sometimes too hard.

Last week against Tampa Bay, he trusted Deion Branch far too much. Three of Hasselbeck’s four interceptions came on passes he threw to Branch, and the receiver did nothing to try to break any of them up.

This week, Hasselbeck threw four more picks. One came when he tried to abort a pass but the ball slipped out and right into the arms of linebacker A.J. Hawk.

Another pick came when the quarterback’s pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and T.J. Houshmandzadeh fell down in the end zone, allowing Atari Bigby to catch it. The two others were simply forced throws as Hasselbeck tried to make something happen after his team had fallen behind.

Hasselbeck said he’s “looking for answers.” But isn’t that the job of offensive coordinator Greg Knapp? His offense has gone backwards since the start of the season, getting worse by the week.

The list of failures is long:

—He hasn’t made the right moves with the line.

—He hasn’t used John Carlson nearly enough.

—He hasn’t used Justin Forsett enough.

—He hasn’t integrated Deon Butler into the offense ahead of Branch.

—He has called bizarre third-down plays.

—He has used Seneca Wallace at the wrong times and failed to get the most out of Wallace.

With the exception of Forsett, every player on offense has underachieved. But at least Hasselbeck has tried. And you can’t blame him for that.


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