Matt Hasselbeck must learn to show restraint
Matt Hasselbeck was intercepted a career-high 17 times last season. He hopes to learn from his mistakes. "I'm still just kind of learning, to be honest, about last year," Hasselbeck said. "But statistically, it was terrible and not good. It seemed like the harder we tried or the harder I tried, the worse it got."
Seattle Times staff reporter
RENTON — Film study is standard-operating procedure in today's NFL, so it's no surprise coach Pete Carroll included a video as part of a team meeting earlier in training camp. P The shock is what the video didn't feature. Namely, football. Instead, the Seahawks watched and listened to Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Yet when quarterback Matt Hasselbeck explained what he learned from his statistical disintegration last December, that video featuring Bryant is the one he cited.
"I can see myself last year in a lot of the stuff Kobe was talking about," Hasselbeck said. "I was totally blind to it until it came up the other night in a team meeting."
OK, Hasselbeck is going to have to explain that since he's a quarterback and Bryant isn't exactly known for his passing. So what exactly did he learn from watching Bryant?
"Focus was one big thing," Hasselbeck said. "Trying a little bit too hard, trying to do too much."
Before the Seahawks embark upon this season, it's worth taking one last look at the final month of last year when Hasselbeck threw caution — and 10 interceptions — into the wind.
Since coming to Seattle in 2001, Hasselbeck was intercepted four times in a game only once in the first 123 games he played quarterback. He was picked off four times twice in the final three games last season. Even now, he's at a loss to explain it.
"I'm still just kind of learning, to be honest, about last year," Hasselbeck said. "But statistically, it was terrible and not good.
"It seemed like the harder we tried or the harder I tried, the worse it got."
He finished with 17 interceptions, the most Hasselbeck had in any of his 11 NFL seasons.
"He was over-trying," Carroll said. "Tremendously overtrying. He was trying to make things happen in classic fashion, trying to make a play, and that caused him to make decisions that he'd throw the ball into trouble."
It's another year and another playbook for Hasselbeck. He spent the first 10 years of his NFL career mastering one offense: Mike Holmgren's. The quarterback is not only the rudder of that system, he is the engine because it relies upon the quarterback's decision-making and his accuracy.
"You're an artist, not a blacksmith," was one of Holmgren's favorite instructions to his quarterbacks.
The offense Jeremy Bates has installed under Carroll asks the quarterback to be more of a point guard. He is a distributor or at least that's the model Seattle's coach outlined.
"They don't have to be the whole show," Carroll said. "And it wound up that they got all the attention anyway."
Carson Palmer won a Heisman Trophy at USC. So did Matt Leinart, and Mark Sanchez wound up the fifth pick of the 2009 draft after he left school following his junior season.
"It was never based on they had to carry the whole team on their shoulders," Carroll said. "It was running the football, it was protecting him well, moving the pocket, all of the change-up and the rhythms, to give the protection a chance to be really highly effective."
As the starting quarterback, Hasselbeck is the most important player on Seattle's offense. He just won't be expected to do everything on his own, which is a good thing since everyone saw what happened when he tried to do too much last season.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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