As I've mentioned a number of times during the pre-season and early regular season, QB Matt Hasselbeck has been a real bright spot. He's played nearly flawless football for two games. His throwing with confidence, and has that look in his eye that we never saw last year.
I always like to see if the numbers support my subjective evaluations, so let's take a look at Matt through games 1 & 2 of the last three years (including this one).
|Week 1||@JAC||L 26-14||21||36||246||58.3||6.83||33||2||2||3.0||74.5|
|Week 2||ATL||W 21-18||20||31||281||64.5||9.07||41||2||0||2.0||115.1|
|Week 1||@DET||W 9-6||25||30||210||83.3||7.00||36||0||0||5.0||95.8|
|Week 2||ARI||W 21-10||12||27||221||44.4||8.19||49||1||2||3.0||54.7|
|Week 1||TB||W 20-6||17||24||222||70.8||9.25||49||1||0||2.0||113.5|
|Week 2||@ARI||L 23-20||22||36||281||61.1||7.81||37||1||0||1.0||94.8|
A few things stick out to me here. First, the 281 yards Matt passed for last week were more than in any game last season, and there were only two times in 2005 that he eclipsed that number. As you all recall, 2005 was the year the Hawks went to the Super Bowl.
Second, the sack total is very low this year. Even the legendary 2005 offensive line had yielded more sacks at this point in the season. The patchwork line from last year was already showing it's weakness.
Third, Matt's efficiency has been off-the-charts so far. His completion percentage is up. His YPA is outstanding, and he has zero picks.
Last, Matt had at least one stinker of a game to start each of the past two seasons. He's been nearly flawless (except for poorly timed fake audibles) so far this year.
The most encouraging part is the protection Matt's received so far. The bit that is hidden is the running game. Shaun had already had a 140+ yard rushing game in 2005. The game against Tampa was encouraging for that reason, but it clearly regressed on Sunday.
If Matt is going to have the year I think he is poised for, the pass protection will need to stay strong and the running game must become a consistent threat. This year it could very well be the passing game that opens up the run lanes.