Draft Fallout


Whether you’re a fan of what the Seahawks accomplished during the draft or not, you have to applaud the fact that the team made a commitment to improve the offensive line. Management has decided upon a direction the team will go in. Now, it’s up to them to ensure that the team does not waver from that commitment and continue to make roster changes that support this new direction. If they do, then the team must start Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback and allow Matt Hasselbeck to sign elsewhere. Re-signing Hasselbeck would undermine what the team is trying to accomplish in the long term.

At this time, the intentions of the team are to start John Moffitt at right guard and James Carpenter at right tackle. To do anything else after using their top two draft choices on these players is foolish. By starting these rookies next to each other from Day 1, the Seahawks have to know the risk they are taking. Moffitt and Carpenter are not going to step in and dominate. They are going to make mistakes and take their lumps while the offensive line as a whole learns to become a unit. The objective is to show significant progress by the end of the season so that the offensive line isn’t a big concern next offseason.

Matt Hasselbeck’s age, injury susceptibility and declining performance no longer make him a good fit with Seattle. I admire Hasselbeck. He has been a great representative of the franchise, a solid player for several seasons, and is a lock for the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor. There is a high likelihood no one else will ever wear number 8 for the Seahawks. He still has gas left in the tank, as he showed during the playoff win against the New Orleans Saints last season. It was the greatest game he ever played and it would be fitting if that were his final game as a Seahawk at Qwest Field.

However, Hasselbeck did not have a good season last year if you look at it in its entirety. He had some fine games, but he also had several brutal ones. Injuries may have played a part, but some of the decisions Hasselbeck made last season were atrocious; ones I wouldn’t expect from a rookie. The team is building for the future, and Hasselbeck is the present.

The main reason Hasselbeck no longer fits with the Seahawks is because he has developed “happy feet”. The offensive line last season was not as bad as it was portrayed. The run blocking was atrocious, perhaps the worst I’ve ever seen from a professional football team. However, the pass protection wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t great, but it was a marked improvement over the previous two seasons. Hasselbeck had a tendency to rush throws and break from his progressions because of perceived pressure that wasn’t always there.

That situation is not going to improve this season. The offensive line will likely take one step back so it can take four steps forward in 2012. With an extremely young, inexperienced line featuring two rookies on the right side, Hasselbeck’s confidence in the pocket is not going to improve. The Seahawks’ quarterback next season is going to have to make some plays with his legs, and Hasselbeck shouldn’t be put in that position. Almost all of Hasselbeck’s injuries the last few years have come while he was running the ball.

Charlie Whitehurst, however, can make plays with his legs, as he showed in last year’s regular season finale against the Rams. I don’t believe the Seahawks would have won that game with Hasselbeck under center because he wouldn’t have been able to avoid the Rams’ pass rush. Whitehurst made several key plays by running the ball when protection broke down. He is going to have to do that a LOT this upcoming season.

If Hasselbeck does not return, and I don’t think it would be in the team’s best interest long-term for him to do so, one of the things to watch will be who makes the line calls. Hasselbeck had been making them for the last few years, which is one reason why the team did so poorly when he was out. Whitehurst isn’t experienced enough to make those calls, which will leave it up to Max Unger, who isn’t very experienced himself. It’s just another part of the growing pains the offensive line will endure this season.

If the Seahawks were to re-sign Hasselbeck, they’d be selling themselves out and taking a gigantic step backwards in their efforts to rebuild the franchise. Management made a commitment during the draft, and the worst thing they could do is make moves that undermine that effort. Every move the team makes from here on out must reinforce that commitment.

This team is going to take some lumps this season, but by staying the course they’ve set, hopefully the team will rebound quickly. People have been telling me to have faith in the front office. They need to have faith in themselves.