Matt Hasselbeck is a bad fit for this offense. The Seahawks offense is best when it is conservative. The last two weeks prove it. Wrong. Flat out, wrong. Captain Wrong, himself, Steve Kelley embarrassed himself again with a column this morning explaining why the Seahawks are best when they imitate the Patriots ball control offense, and have been at their worst when being aggressive. This same line of thinking has saturated sports radio this week.
A few facts to consider:
The Seahawks offense eclipsed 300 yards of total offense just three times in their first eight games, including a 302 yard effort in Qwest against Arizona
The Seahawks offense eclipsed 300 yards of offense in four of their last six games, including the only two games where they gained more than 400 yards (@ARZ and @NO)
Matt’s yards per attempt in his first seven games (Whitehurst played the eighth) was 5.98. His YPA in his last six is 7.68. Only six QBs in the NFL average more than 7.68 YPA for the season (Rivers, Vick, Rodgers, Brady, Cutler, Roethlisberger)
Matt’s three week total of 981 yards @ARZ, @NO and vs. KC was the second-highest three-week total of his career which makes it the second-highest in the history of the Seahawks franchise for a QB.
Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu were healthy and starting for only two games all season @ARZ and @NO, and Williams left the NO game with an injury. It is stretch to say Williams and Obomanu were healthy this past Sunday.
These are not opinions. What do these facts tell you? Were the Seahawks a better offense, as Kelley tells us, at the beginning of the season? Does the offense appear to thrive when Matt is throwing shorter passes?
The unfortunate fact for sports radio jockeys and bad columnists is that the last two weeks have a very a simple explanation. Matt Hasselbeck has made horrible, crippling decisions, that cost his team any chance at winning the games. That does not mean he is a bad fit for the offense, or that the team needs to be exclusively conservative in its play-calling. It just means Matt has to make better choices.
Sunday was the first time in four weeks that Mike Williams played in a game (he only lasted two plays vs. CAR), and the first time in five weeks he played a whole game. Ben Obomanu has a split down his hand between the pinky finger and ring finger that has 20 stitches in it. Even with these major obstacles to timing and anticipation, the Seahawks had one of their finest drives of the season to open the game. Having both of the receivers in the game is a major factor. Having them healthy and practicing puts the offense at another speed entirely.
If you look at each of Matt’s interceptions, and even the fumble on Sunday, they are the result of bad judgment. He is choosing to go for the aggressive option, instead of making the smart play. This is a guy who admitted to letting a bad holding call cause him to lose his head and throw a pick in the Super Bowl, so this is not new territory.
Matt does not need a new offense to succeed. He needs to make better decisions within this offense, and to have some stability at the top of his receiving corps to work with. This game in Tampa represents the first real test now that Williams and Obomanu will practice for the second-straight week. Don’t believe everything you are hearing and reading right now. This offense, and passing game specifically, has reached heights this franchise has almost never seen before. It has happened in the first season with almost entirely new faces. The yardage per game has improved dramatically as the season has unfolded, largely due to a new ability to make big plays. Turnovers and injury, more than anything else, has held the unit back. Matt can do a lot to effect the first part, and luck appears to be allowing the injury issue to subside.
The team may succeed or fail in their next two games, but it will have absolutely nothing to do with Matt being a good or bad fit for the system, and it won’t be because they threw the ball deep. The facts simply don’t support that line of thinking.