RENTON, Wash. – It’s not every week that Matt Hasselbeck gets pulled aside by Pete Carroll and talked to about his performance from a day earlier.
Carroll made a point of doing it on Monday, a day after yanking Hasselbeck from the Seahawks’ 34-18 loss to Atlanta after the quarterback committed three third-quarter turnovers that led to 17 Atlanta points.
“We just kind of went over the game in more detail, talked through everything and I think more than anything he wants to be more involved in terms of communicating better throughout the week and stuff like that,” Hasselbeck said Thursday. “I think he does a great job of getting messages across and communicating and coaching and just helping his players be successful.”
Later that day, Carroll said Hasselbeck would continue as Seahawks starter, even after backup Charlie Whitehurst entered and performed well in the closing minutes of Seattle’s latest loss, its sixth in eight games.
Yet for all the turnovers Hasselbeck’s been responsible for in the past four weeks, Carroll believes the veteran QB remains the best option to try to slide the Seahawks into the playoffs in Carroll’s first year back in the NFL.
Seattle needs wins over Tampa Bay and St. Louis to guarantee winning the division title.
“It has to do with we think that Matt can get the job done for us,” Carroll said. “We have to keep him in good situations and we have to play good football around him.”
The best situation to keep Hasselbeck out of is playing from behind. Hasselbeck has 13 turnovers in the past four games – 10 interceptions and three fumbles – and most of those come when Seattle is trailing. That leads to Hasselbeck trying to force plays, especially in the past two weeks, that have turned exceedingly bad for the Seahawks.
None was bigger than Seattle’s first offensive play of the second half last Sunday against the Falcons. Hasselbeck rolled out of the pocket in his own end zone and instead of throwing the ball away when he was first pressured by Atlanta’s Jamaal Anderson, Hasselbeck tried to fight off the big defensive end in the hopes of hitting Ben Obomanu downfield for a big play.
But Hasselbeck never got free. Anderson forced a fumble that was recovered by Atlanta’s Jonathan Babineaux and suddenly the Seahawks were down 24-10. Hasselbeck then compounded the mistake by throwing interceptions on the next two possessions.
“I think I’ve got to get less frustrated during the games, bottom line. Because when you get frustrated you try to do too much,” Hasselbeck said.
Part of the message this week from Carroll and offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates is for Hasselbeck to be willing to throw a check down and not always feel the need to be overly aggressive going downfield with his throws. It’s a difficult message to absorb, but one that’s been emphasized repeatedly.
“We’ve just got to keep talking about it and showing it on film,” Bates said. “I’m not so sure he’s forcing everything. I think a quarterback believes he is making the throw at that moment and then you’ve got to go back on Monday and watch the tape and see what happened. But you’ve got to believe in your stroke.”
Another aspect for Hasselbeck is his future in Seattle. His contract is up after the season and he’s one of a large number of Seahawks with an unsteady situation for 2011.
Hasselbeck realizes that winning these last two games and getting into the playoffs could change some opinions heading into the offseason.
“If you don’t perform, if you don’t produce, if we don’t win, they’ll go out and get somebody new and who they think can do the job,” Hasselbeck said. “I don’t think the 30 of us that are in that group, I don’t know if we’re that much different than the rest of the team. It’s just how it is and how you have to approach it.”