RENTON, Wash. – Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is not what he used to be.
That statement is not a critique of his performance nor a commentary on the caliber of his arm.
It’s the reality of how the quarterback’s role has changed under coach Pete Carroll. It’s not just the throws he makes, but the turnovers he doesn’t. Valor isn’t as important as discretion.
“In our offense and our football team, it’s about taking care of the ball,” Carroll said. “Matt is the first guy that has to do that.”
It’s not like turnovers just now became important under Carroll, but avoiding them is now the No. 1 priority. And for the past two weeks, Hasselbeck has done a first-rate job. Seattle has one turnover in the past two games and the Seahawks have won two in a row to gain control of the NFC West.
Hasselbeck hasn’t been picked off for 10 quarters, throwing 97 consecutive passes and counting without an interception. That’s quite a change from a player who was picked off 10 times in the last four games of 2009 and at least once each in the first four games this season.
So complain about Hasselbeck’s arm strength if you must. Point out the times he’s missed open tight end John Carlson if you have to. Carroll would rather highlight the fact that his only turnover these past two games came on a fumble in Sunday’s victory over Arizona.
“He didn’t see the guy coming,” Carroll said, “and he lost the football. But other than that, that’s winning football for us. So whatever it takes to get that done.”
Seattle allowed a season-high five sacks Sunday against Arizona, several coming because Hasselbeck held onto the ball too long in the pocket. Carroll didn’t overlook that fact, he just didn’t want to emphasize it too much.
“I’m not going overboard about taking a few sacks in this game,” Carroll said. “We’d just as soon kick the football if we have to and go play defense.”
That defense is becoming the signature of this team, with Hasselbeck functioning more like a bus driver who’s expected to keep the whole operation from veering into a ditch as opposed to the Formula One driver who must hug every curve.
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