Whenever a noteworthy veteran player joins the Titans, it’s been a longtime habit for me to reach out to someone who writes about the team that player came from.
Matthew Heuett, the lead writer at Seahawks Addicts, a sister site on the Bloguin network, was kind enough to give us his thoughts on Matt Hasselbeck. His words follow, after the jump.
It feels strange telling fans of another team what Hasselbeck can do for them. I mean, the guy’s been in Seattle for the last ten years, and he’s been the Seahawks’ main man since about midway through the 2002 season. That’s forever in football years, you know?
Anyway, Hasselbeck is a savvy, gutsy quarterback with the sort of charming, affable personality that makes fans love him from the first second he opens his mouth. The deep ball has never been his forte, but he has fantastic accuracy and touch in the short to mid range passing game. He’s smart, makes good decisions with the ball, thrives in an up-tempo offense, and when a play breaks down he flashes the same flair for improvisation that made guys like Brett Favre and Fran Tarkenton such effective QBs.
Back in the early part of his career, Hasselbeck was kind of a hothead, and when he gets too agitated or frustrated he has a tendency to throw interceptions by forcing throws into way-too-small windows. After some erratic starts, Mike Holmgren benched him in favor of Trent Dilfer, which was probably the best thing that ever happened to Hasselbeck. Believe it or not, it was through watching Dilfer play that he finally learned to stay cool and remain in control of a game.
When Dilfer went down in mid-’02 with a ruptured Achilles, Hasselbeck was ready to start being the guy Seahawks fans have grown to love. His best year was his third pro bowl season in ’07. That was the year the wheels fell completely off Sean Alexander and the Seahawks’ running game, which put the weight of the offense squarely on Hasselbeck’s shoulders. He responded by turning an average wide receiving corps into a top ten passing attack and posting career highs in yardage and touchdowns en route to a memorable upset of the Cowboys in the playoffs (Romo’s bobbled hold still puts a smile on my face).
Unfortunately, by 2008 the offensive line had deteriorated badly and Hasselbeck got the living hell beaten out of him. Things weren’t much better in ’09 and ’10, and the injuries he’s sustained as a result were partly responsible for his poor stat lines the last few seasons. I say partly because Hasselbeck also seems to have lost some velocity on his throws, which became particularly evident last season. Passes that in previous years would have zipped in through tight windows were hanging in the air for a few extra split seconds, which is all the time an NFL defensive back needs to make an interception. Still, by the end of the season he seemed to figure out how to adjust for that, the result being that great playoff game against the Saints (and against the Bears, too — his receivers dropped a lot of key passes that day). I wouldn’t want to see him start a lot of games, especially if he’s going to be standing behind a porous o-line, but he should do fine playing in relief and will make a fine mentor for a rookie QB (I’ve always gotten the impression that he’d like the opportunity to do for a young rookie what Dilfer did for him).
That’s probably more information than you needed, but it’s not every day that the greatest QB in franchise history leaves for another team. You guys are going to like him. Hasselbeck has never gotten the attention or praise that he’s deserved over the years; if he’d been playing for a bigger market team like the Giants or 49ers he’d be on every other commercial on TV, but just the same we were glad to have him out here in the Pacific Northwest.
Thanks to Matthew for sharing his thoughts on Hasselbeck. To read some more of the things he and his co-writers on Seahawks Addicts have written about him, here’s a link to a search for “Hasselbeck” on their website.