One of the greatest players in franchise history, and one of the best leaders to ever step into a Seattle locker room, is looking for a place to call home. The Indianapolis Colts announced they are moving on from 40-year-old backup quarterback Matthew Hasselbeck. It just so happens the Seahawks have a spare bedroom, and a need for exactly what Hasselbeck brings to the table. Once sent packing by John Schneider in a move that made his own son angry, the opportunity to improve the team and do right by a franchise great is knocking. Let him in, John. It is time to bring Matt home.

The perfect backup

Tarvaris Jackson was a respected starter when he replaced Hasselbeck in 2011 and played through serious injury. He lost his starting job to then-rookie Russell Wilson the following year and was traded to Buffalo before eventually re-signing as a backup the past two years.

Jackson was a good backup in the sense that the team had confidence that they could win games if he needed to step in. He was relatively affordable as well. One thing that has never been clear is how much knowledge Jackson had to pass along to Wilson, or how much he actually did pass along.

Hasselbeck signed with the Colts specifically because he wanted to help nurture the young career of Andrew Luck. He relished the opportunity to pass along the knowledge he had acquired through what had been 14 years in the league at that point.

As he had done in his previous stops in Seattle and Tennessee, he made a momentous impact in the locker room. Even the punter noticed.

Hasselbeck has always been the perfect combination of smart, self-deprecating, and courageous. His work ethic is unquestioned, and his knowledge of how to play the quarterback position is among the best in the league.

Seattle has a player who could become the best quarterback to ever put on a uniform. Think that’s hyperbole? Check the numbers. Check the accomplishments Compare them to anyone you want through four seasons.

The areas where Russell Wilson has the most room to improve (reading defenses, pre-snap adjustments, making adjustments, and being a respected locker room presence) just so happen to be Hasselbeck’s strengths.

While Jackson has made it clear that he wants to test free agency in hopes of finding a place he may get a chance to play, Hasselbeck is looking for a place where he can leave a legacy through what he passes down to the next generation of signal callers.

He also won five of the eight games he started for the Colts last year when Luck was injured. He is a viable backup.

Seattle has chosen to leave Wilson’s development to quarterbacks coach Carl Smith to this point. He eagerly soaked up knowledge from players like Drew Brees at the Pro Bowl when he has had the chance. Putting a player in his position group who is available every moment to answer questions and break down film could be exactly what Wilson needs at this point in his career.

A memorable career

Unlike Jackson, Hasselbeck was a long-time starter in this league. He was developed by one of the best quarterback coaches of all-time in Mike Holmgren. A 6th round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers in 1998, Hasselbeck had to fight for everything he achieved in the NFL.

Even after Holmgren traded for him in in 2001, Hasselbeck battled with Trent Dilfer and Brock Huard for the starting role. He got a chance to start that year, but lost it to Dilfer due to poor play and a battle of wills with Holmgren about how to run the offense.

His redemption came when Dilfer was injured the following year and Hasselbeck took over with a renewed willingness to play the position Holmgren demanded. Like Marshawn Lynch, when he finally relented and played the way Tom Cable asked, remarkable production followed.

Over his final six games of the 2002 season, Hasselbeck threw for over 300 yards in four of them, and 298 yards in a fifth. The offense scored over 30 points in four of those six games after doing so only three times in the previous 22 contests. Hasselbeck had found something, and helped the team to a 10 win season for the first time in 17 years in 2003.

He threw for a then-franchise record 3841 yards and 26 touchdowns that year and made the first of his three Pro Bowl appearances. His best season, though, came in 2005 when he led the NFC in passer rating at 98.2 (another franchise record), and led the team to its first Super Bowl.

Running back Shaun Alexander won the MVP award that year, but ask any fan who watched that team or any player or coach inside that locker room, and they will tell you that Hasselbeck was the MVP. He ran the offense to perfection, and was the unquestioned leader on and off the field.

He had a more flashy statistical year in 2007 when he nearly became the first Seahawks quarterback to throw for 4000 yards (3966), but the 2005 season was his capstone.

His final season in Seattle was 2010. A team that had no business making the playoffs somehow found themselves facing the defending Super Bowl champions. Everyone remembers Beast Quake, but that run would not have mattered had Hasselbeck not played his best postseason game with 272 yards and 4 touchdowns, to go along with a 113.0 passer rating.

It was fitting that Hasselbeck’s final home game saw him running alongside Lynch on that historic run, trying, and mostly failing, to block 50 yards downfield. That is who Matt Hasselbeck is.

Respect

I brought up the possibility of bringing Hasselbeck back to Seattle in my offseason analysis series. It surprised me how many people balked at the idea. I can only assume those people became fans after the 2005 season, and never saw him play at his peak.

By any measure, Hasselbeck is one of the best players to ever play for the Seahawks. He holds the franchise records for passing yards, is second in touchdowns, game-winning drives, and wins as a starter.

As good as he was behind center, it was the way he carried himself and treated people that always stood out to me. No one was classier or funnier. He was the perfect kind of cocky.

Many saw his declaration of “We’ll take the ball and we’re gonna score,” in the playoffs against the Packers as an embarrassment. For a lifelong Seahawks fan, it was a groundbreaking moment of machismo from a franchise and fanbase that never had the courage to lean forward.

I listened to every interview and press conference of his while he played in Seattle. He was more than respectful. He was present and engaged in real conversation. He was genuine. These qualities made him a fantastic leader, and a terrific member of the community.

Any fan against the idea of bringing him back to this city and this team should think long and hard about what they want to see from their players. Nobody is asking him to lead this team to the Super Bowl, but I can’t imagine a better way to finish his career than by placing a championship ring on his finger.

Football is a game of skill and power and fury, but it is also about savvy, courage, and leadership. The game it at its best when those qualities of character fuse with the physical gifts of youth to turn boys into men. Seattle has a chance to bring a man into their locker room who makes the people around him better without ever playing a snap. Bring Matt home.

27 Responses

  1. Jwagz84

    Dude, I’m totally with u! Matt would be a great mentor for Russell and I would love nothing more than to see him back in a seahawks uniform and to retire a seahawk. This is where he belongs. Get him a ring and bring him home Seattle!

  2. dunejack

    are you kidding me ? if russ goes down i’d much rather have jackson than hass. he’s done. i’ve been a fan of the team since the early 80’s, i saw hass in his prime. he was an overrated backup who choked in big games. to call him the best seahawk is so disingenuous and fan boy. sure, he’s the best seahawks qb until 2013. i’ll admit when he was on, he was on fire, but week to week you never knew what you were gonna get. i’d rather not waste a roster spot with someone who injures himself walking into the endzone.

    • whatguythatguy

      Really? You have tremendous faith in a guy who hasn’t done anything meaningful at the position in quite a while. Jackson hasn’t even looked good in the pres-season, when he’s playing back-up defensive players.

    • TBarnes

      I have always appreciated TJs toughness, but when, if ever could he have been described as “on fire” as you put it. He isn’t mobile, not a great passer, not a runner. Anything he had to teach RW has been taught and he wants a last payday. He’s gone. Hass was never confused with a runner, but he’s good in the quick passing game Seattle has begun using. Given a running game he’s been deadly. Yeah he’s old – you’re not looking for him as a starter, but he’s proven he can play and win RECENTLY even with a poor OL – when did TJ do that? 2011? You run MH down, but he was easily a top ten QB for years in everyone’s opinion but yours.

    • Tommy Riggs

      Watch a couple of the games he won for the colts.Matt can still chuck the ball farther then most younger QBs out there today.

  3. whatguythatguy

    Bring back the Hass, let him retire a Seahawk, and add his name to the Ring of Honor while he’s here. He’s definitely not a downgrade from Jackson at this point.

  4. Ryche

    Been a fan since ’83, and while I understand your reasons for saying bring Hass back, take a moment to remember one of the key reasons we let him go – his mobility in 2010 was becoming more of a liability than an asset. And given how *sarcasm on* wonderful *sarcasm off* Seattle’s pass blocking has been under Cable, Hass would probably end up being a spot on the turf more often than not.
    If he comes back, it should be as a mentor/coaching position, or maybe as the designated 3rd QB. While I’m sure Hass has something left in the tank, I’m not sure Seattle’s scheme (aka – lack of pass blocking) would allow him to be successful.

      • Ryche

        It’s called Realisim – something that people that were fans from before the 2005 season know all about. Perhaps you can provide some intelligent analysis to present a counter view?

    • Just Me

      Because Russell Wilson never gets hurt, if MH were the backup QB, he’d basically be used as a 3rd string QB and mentor/coach.

      • Ryche

        You do realize the difference between a backup and 3rd string, right? Backups are active roster and can go in at any time. 3rd QB is the emergency QB – only allowed in if #1 and #2 go down with injury. Basically, a player can’t be both backup and 3rd string – hence my saying in the OP 3rd QB is the position for Hass

  5. Paul Goode

    I was ho-hum on the idea until reading Brian’s compelling case. PC wants and expects RW to go to the next level. MH offers a unique opportunity to add a backup who can help RW develop. To me, that trumps concerns about his age and mobility.

    Seattle may well have decided that they want to develop a younger player. That was before MH became available. Why not wait a year?

    BTW, MH kept Indy in the hunt despite an OL that was arguably worse than ours.

    • Just Me

      I’m all for it, as long as he doesn’t cost much more than TJ did. Besides, we always have the option of developing a younger player AND bringing Matt home. Many teams employ 3 QB’s, so there’s nothing wrong with picking up Oregon’s Vernon Adams in the 7th round, and either making him the 3rd QB, or have VA compete with MH for the backup spot.

      • TBarnes

        Exactly, let a young guy learn and grow on the practice squad. By all accounts there are no great QB prospects in the draft so its not like they’ll be highly sought after. This plan makes great sense.

  6. JJ

    I am open to the idea. If Seattle can find a young apprentice QB that can learn quickly I see the longterm value of bringing in a new guy. I’m just not certain they’ll find one of those.

    Jackson hasn’t done anything for ages statistically. I question his ability to come in for a few games and keep the team winning but I admit there isn’t a lot to go on.

    If Hass comes back, I don’t think “mentor” is the right word – Russ doesn’t need a mentor per se. I’d see Hass as more of a co-conspirator with Russ. It only works if they have the right personality fit. While the Colts weren’t playing great teams, going 5-3 behind that OL indicates he’s tough enough. And he was efficient (at least until he got banged up) so he may not need the mobility if the OL keeps improving (big if.)

  7. Malkavian Knight

    Yes, Yes, Yes!

    I would love for Hass to come home. He would be invaluable to the QB room and Russ.He still has some in the tank and yes, the OL problems would be worrisome, but Indy’s line was even worse than ours and he did well. Yes, he got hurt, but so did Andrew. I think he can still play and he so savy and knowledgable.

    LOL…I still remember an training camp interview where he was wearing a blonde wig and said that it was Grant Wistrom’s hair..it was funny

  8. Daddy Love

    Matt’s awesome and I only wonder what’s left in the tank.

  9. hawkman54

    What is wrong with finally having 3 QB’s on your roster??? They did it for YEARS !!!! MH would be AWESOME for a young guy to learn from as well as RW getting some great perspective from an older dude who has seen it all ! You just can’t teach some of the sh1t Hass has seen and gone through- would be a great get !!!!!

  10. Tyler

    Seattle has and always will be Matts home. These post-2014 “fans” know nothing about his legacy he left behind here. Matt was our guy, like the way we talk about Lynch, that’s how we felt about Matt. He was what made Seattle what we are today. He brought life and fight back into our team, every play. He put our team before anything, which he sacrificed a lot of injuries (ribs multiple times) to get our wins when most quarterbacks would take a knee. He was our backbone, without Matt I don’t think Seattle would be anywhere it is today.

    I truly hope we somehow bring him back, whether it’s for one day or 2 more seasons. He will go down in Seattle history as a HOF. ( he would and should’ve won our 05 SB )

    • Patrick

      You must not have read the article. The author spelled out what Hass would bring to the table, & what he could teach Wilson.

  11. TBarnes

    Amen, bring the man home and let him make RW that much better. Matt was great for Seattle, Seattle can be great for Matt.

  12. TCLucas

    I think Hass should come home to retire. He could truly pass on knowledge to RW. Please bring the man home

  13. Hawks!

    T-Jack was the best backup in the NFL as far as I am concerned. I had full confidence that he could win if he was needed. He should be a starter still, and I wish him well should he get the chance again. If we get the chance to get him back we should be most grateful. If that can not happen, bringing Matt back would be very classy. Go Hawks!

  14. wayne

    Matt would be great to see back in a Seahawk uniform. MH deserves to be respected and it would be an honor for MH to be here again and an honor for us to be able to show our respect and admiration to a great contributor to Seattle sports and community.