History Lessons: Static Player Evaluation

Let me ask you this question: How good was Matt Hasselbeck when he was in a Seahawks uniform?

Most people with answer either A) a truly elite QB who was one of the best in the league, or B) a slightly above average QB who turned the ball over too much.

The thing is, both of those answers are correct.

Was Matt’s performance in Seattle enough for him to win this division? Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

Matt was a great player. One of the very top tier NFL QBs from 04-07. Unfortunately, the beating he took behind Seattle’s Offensive line took it’s toll. I did some calculations from the film, and his release speed and ball velocity both dropped considerably starting in 2008. This attributed to his increased turnover rate, and generally lower performance.

I believe this is why where are some disperate views on Matt. People like to create a single evaluation of a player. There was a 4 year stretch where Matt was amazing. It was followed by a 3 year decline where he was fairly average. If you’re going to place a value on him, which do you use? or do you average the 2?

Unfortunately, most of the time we don’t realize that players change over time. Hasselbeck’s biggest fans look at his decreased performance, and blame the offensive line and receivers. His biggest critics site those last couple years as his “true skill level” and claim that the offensive line and receivers in those earlier years made him look better than he really was.

The thing is, both sides are wrong. Matt was very much was a top tier QB in his prime. He made all of the players around him better. He was also a good part of the problem later in his Seattle tenure. It was almost like he was 2 different players.

I simply do not understand why we need to create a single, static evaluation for players who play for long time.

It’s not just Hasselbeck either. Marcus Trufant was a great corner until his back injury, then he wasn’t. There’s no reason for the revisionist history attempt to claim that he was always the “meh” player he’s been the last couple years.

It works in the other direction as well. Max Unger has been so good the last couple of seasons, that fans have forgotten how much he struggled early in his career. He hasn’t always been the dominant player he was in 2012. Unger struggled so badly in 2009, that one of the first things that Pete Carroll’s did after being hired was reinstate Chris Spenser as the team’s starting center.

It’s time for us as fans to accept that players change over time. Some (most) players get better with coaching and experience. Some players decline after injuries, others (most) decline with age if they are lucky enough to last long enough in this league for that happen.

The need for a static evaluation of a player just makes no sense. We (and yes, I am including myself in this) need to be willing to accept that players change. There is simply no reason to deny it.