Thursday, August 21, 2008

Does Matt Hasselbeck Need Preseason?

by: Michael Steffes

There is a lot of talk around the water cooler these days about Matt Hasselbeck continuing to miss practice.

In fact, I couldn't even escape it while on campus last night, where I am a known Seahawk diehard. I had two separate people, who I don't know to be big football fans, ask what is up with #8? Must be a fantasy thing. Anyway, I thought it would be worth looking into whether Matt Hasselbeck needs to play in the remainder of the preseason?

The first train of thought would go like this.... if Matt skips all the preseason games it is fine, as long as he is healthy going into week 1. This is a fair argument, especially in a preseason in which neither Tom Brady or Peyton Manning has taken a snap, right? Mike Holmgren seemed to be selling this line of thinking on the radio yesterday. I'm not so sure. More after the Jump...

I don't want to risk Matt's health, but in a way it sounds as if the team is being overly cautious with him. He was heard yesterday saying he wants to practice. Clearly this offense is in a time of transition, and it needs a leader to get it over the hump. Heck, at the current rate, Big Show might explode if he doesn't get a quality practice out of his offense. Also, Matt needs time with the young guys. Heck, Matt should even be getting feel with running backs. When you think about it, Matt may want to take a snap or two from Chris Spencer this preseason as well. Reps do matter. Is practice going to be enough?

Here is why the overly cautious approach is acceptable. This is a defensive football team. Week 1 in Buffalo is as much about how the defense performs in its first road test as it is about Matt and the young offense. If the defense plays up to expectations, then a rusty Matt and a running game will keep them competitive. Buffalo is also the least important of the three games before the bye, with the other two coming at home vs division opponents. That said, winning in Buffalo would be a tremendous start for this team.

Here is what I think. There is no difference if Matt plays on Mon, or on Friday, and he definitely shouldn't be playing in both. He should play in one of those games though. While it is not traditional to play your starters in the fourth game, there is no reason the starters couldn't play a quarter a two vs the Raiders, especially if they play sparingly on Mon night. I DO want to see Matt on the field before Sept 7th. That is one question mark I do not want to see hanging over the Hawks as they start the season. Matt is arguably one of the top 3 or 4 most indispensable players in the league.

All this said, I bet he is back at practice today....