Seattle Seahawks: Despite Early Struggles, Benching Hasselbeck Would Be Mistake

Derek StephensContributor ISeptember 21, 2010

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 19:  Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Seattle Seahawks delivers a pass against the Denver Broncos at INVESCO Field at Mile High on September 19, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Seahawks 31-14.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

After taking another in-depth (and yes, painful) look at the video of the Seattle-Denver game, it’s clear that the Seahawks offense failed to take advantage of several opportunities to prolong drives and control the clock. This failure had less to do with ability to execute and more to do with, quite frankly, poor decision making on the part of Matt Hasselbeck.

After all, bad execution can oftentimes be a result of bad decisions. Never during Week 2 was this more evident for Seattle than when Hasselbeck took a shot at Deion Branch in the back corner of the end zone on a fourth-and-two play from the Denver 20, with the ‘Hawks trailing by 17 in the third.

But this was only one of several botched opportunities, as the first two INT's thrown by Matt were simply poor choices on plays when other receivers were open and other options were available.

We saw this during Week 1 as well, on Matt’s first throw of the season as he attempted to hit a well-covered John Carlson on a seam route and was picked off by Nate Clements.

And of course, there was last season, although many blamed a lack of protection for those blunders.

There were certainly times when Matt was hurried on Sunday, but a closer look shows that a good number of his less-than-impressive decisions came on plays when he was given time to scan the field before throwing.

Whether it be a case of a QB still learning a new offense, or a relatively inexperienced WR corps struggling to get on the same page as Hasselbeck, he needs to get it figured out quickly, or the “Charlie” chants will soon be blaring from the stands of Qwest Field.

In no way am I saying that benching Matt Hasselbeck is the answer.

Some would say that now is the time to give Charlie Whitehurst a try. I say that’s stupid. You’re two weeks into a season under a brand new coaching regime with a boatload of new players, many of whom are playing on the offensive side of the ball.

Not to mention, the new offensive scheme under Jeremy Bates does have it’s significant differences from any system that Matt has played in before, and will understandably take some time for him to adjust to.

Should it take him three more weeks? No, in fact another couple of weeks of what we saw on Sunday, and I think the leash should probably be shortened.

But to say two weeks into a season that benching the NFC West’s best QB is a smart move when Seattle could easily find themselves in control of the division by Week 4 is short-sighted and completely misses the point of, well, the game of football…

To win.

I’m not saying you stick with a guy just to stick with him. But, I am saying you stick with a proven leader and the divisions best quarterback until he proves he’s no longer either one, and you do it for a longer period of time than a single game. I’m not factoring last season into this equation, simply because the coaching and personnel are completely different.

Matt deserves a consistent and familiar system to play within, in order for a fair judgement and subsequent decision to be made about his role on the team.

At the very worst, Seattle should be 2-2 going into the bye week, in which case I’d rather have a quarterback at the helm who has won division titles, despite a deteriorating trait or two, than be three games into an experiment that may have the team out of division contention.

Well…okay, so it may be impossible to be out of division contention before Week 15, but you get my point.

The leadership element has to be considered as well. Not just the throw-by-throw analysis. Hasselbeck is the clear captain and leader of this team, and to remove him from that role on the field, could have ramifications off of it.

This isn’t Madden 11, where you take one guy out, plug another guy in and the numerical ratings play themselves out. There are attitudes, feelings, locker room chemistry and general leadership elements to consider, the disruption of which could result in other problems.

I don’t care if it’s a rebuilding year or not. You never turn your back on an opportunity to win a division in the NFL. If we’re still talking about these issues and seeing these same mistakes after the bye week (Week 5), I may be ready to sing a different tune.

Until then, Matt’s still my guy.

Feel free to disagree and discuss below.


For more Seahawks analysis and discussion with Derek Stephens, visit The Blue Bird Herd.