RENTON – Pete Carroll laid into Matt Hasselbeck after the Seahawks' loss at Denver on Sunday.
The coach probably expressed opinions similar to those that fans were yelling at their televisions during Seattle’s 31-14 defeat.
Hasselbeck threw three interceptions. He was off target on other passes. And he failed in that somewhat indefinable duty of an elite quarterback: to elevate those around him, and give the team a chance to win even when things are going sideways all around him.
Carroll let Hasselbeck know that he expects a great deal more from him than that.
But when Carroll met the media Monday afternoon at the team’s headquarters, he had a strong message that could not be misinterpreted: Matt Hasselbeck is his quarterback. And there’s really not any debate on whether it’s time to give backup Charlie Whitehurst a shot at the job.
“Matt’s our guy we’re counting on him,” Carroll said. “We know Matt gives us the best chance to win. He’s doing everything he can; he’s busting his tail and he’s doing a good job. We’re fortunate to have Charlie waiting in the wings, but it’s not his time yet.”
And Carroll’s not looking at the clock.
“When Charlie gets his chance to play, we’ll see how far he takes it, but that’s not even in our minds at all right now. (Matt’s) really the guy whose going to take us and we’re going to ride him and make sure we support him and do all the things he needs to be successful.”
Hasselbeck said he expected Carroll to be critical after the Denver loss.
“He was pretty tough on me,” Hasselbeck said. “He called me out right after the game (on) the turnover thing. I expect that. I have no problem with that. The standard has been set. He has told us what he expects. We know what he’s looking for.”
Simply, Carroll doesn’t want Hasselbeck giving the ball to the other team.
It’s a valid concern. Hasselbeck has thrown 12 interceptions in his past five games, with two four-pick games late last season. Fighting injuries and dealing with faulty pro- tection, Hasselbeck has had 31 interceptions in the past 25 games he’s been active.
Carroll’s assessment of his problems last season, and also in the Denver game, was that Hasselbeck tried to make too many plays on his own.
“If there’s something to look (at correcting), Matt is trying really hard to do something, to make it happen, to make plays,” Carroll said. “That’s something that makes him a special player, but it also every now and then can get him. It’s the same with any big-time performer; they feel they can control things and they can make things happen and sometimes they go too far.”
Carroll cited Hasselbeck’s risky decision to try to squeeze a pass over All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey. It was a costly interception in the red zone.
“Other than that, he played a solid football game and gave us a chance to do some good things,” he said.
“I know that my errors put us in a really tough spot and I know what I need to do to correct them, and if I do that, it’s a huge step for our team,” Hasselbeck said.
Every quarterback has some stinkers. And Hasselbeck has bounced back from these things in the past. Even in his last Pro Bowl season of 2007, he had a 44.7 passer rating in a loss to Pittsburgh and finished the season at 91.4.
Last season, he had a 32.5 against Arizona sandwiched by a 125 against Jacksonville and a 93 at Dallas.
He knows that sometimes playing with aggressiveness and confidence can lead to turnovers and mistakes. It’s a margin that can change from week to week.
And the question becomes more pointed with the recognition that he turns 35 Saturday, and with the presence of Whitehurst on the sideline.
“I’m not worried day-today,” Hasselbeck said. “In this league, you can be the hero one week and the goat the next. That’s just how it goes. I’m just looking to have a great week of practice and come out and have a great game on Sunday.”
And if he doesn’t, Carroll will let him know about it.