Seattle Seahawks

Struggling Hasselbeck almost benched by Mora

Green Bay, Wis. - He's scuffling.

The last two games have been the worst two-game stretch of Matt Hasselbeck’s NFL career.

This season was supposed to be one of rebirth for the veteran quarterback, who was looking for a return to the form that earned him three trips to the Pro Bowl.

Hasselbeck returned after a season that saw him play only nine games because of a back injury.

He worked through the offseason to strengthen his core muscles to help support his back, then said he was in the best shape of his life.

But hampering the 11th-year pro’s resurgence has been the need to learn a new offensive system, after Greg Knapp took over as the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator and installed his version of the West Coast offense.

Hasselbeck’s woes the past two games exposed the growing pains he has had in learning that system.

“Sometimes the good can outweigh the bad,” Hasselbeck said. “Sometimes I’ve seen quarterbacks throw a lot of picks, yet they play really well elsewhere and overcome it. And I didn’t do that. I didn’t play well enough to overcome it.”

Hasselbeck has thrown eight interceptions in the past seven quarters he’s played. At age 34, he has played a full season only once in the past four.

His contract runs through next season, and whomever Seattle hires as its new general manager will have to decide whether to hitch his wagon to Hasselbeck for another few years while Seattle goes through a rebuilding effort.

Mora said the time for evaluating Hasselbeck’s long-term situation will be at season’s end.

“I don’t want to speculate on that,” Mora said. “There’s so many things to look at and evaluate. I want to concentrate on trying to finish out at home with a win against the Titans. That’s what I want to try and do.”

After playing poorly against Tampa Bay last week, Hasselbeck plunged to new depths at Green Bay, passing for 198 yards on 19-of-37 accuracy with one touchdown and four interceptions. His 36.6 passer rating was the third-worst of his career.

The Packers turned Hasselbeck’s miscues into 21 points.

In many ways, the veteran’s performance looked eerily similar to when he first joined the Seahawks in 2001. A wide-eyed and eager-to-please Hasselbeck finished with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions in 12 starts, regularly hearing boos from Seattle fans.

Injuries have played a role in Hasselbeck’s struggles this season. He missed two games earlier this year after suffering a rib injury against San Francisco. And he’s battled shoulder issues since injuring his shoulder against Detroit in early November.

Asked if injuries were an issue, Hasselbeck declined to use that as an excuse, but Mora hinted that could be part of the problem.

“He’s as healthy as you can be at this point of the season when you’re a quarterback that takes some shots,” Mora said. “I don’t think that he’s 100 percent healthy.”

Still, Hasselbeck’s decision-making has to be a concern for Mora and his coaching staff, with Hasselbeck consistently forcing the ball into tight coverage to try to spark his team’s struggling offense the past few games.

With 16 interceptions this season, Hasselbeck has thrown as many interceptions as touchdown passes.

Mora even admitted he considered pulling Hasselbeck out against Green Bay.

“I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say it crossed my mind,” Mora said, when asked if he considered replacing Hasselbeck with Seneca Wallace at quarterback. “But once again, I think it’s really important at this point in our development and where we (are) as we’re in trying to fix this thing, is we always put the guys out there that give us the best chance to win, and have a successful down. And Matt’s our quarterback, and we’re going to keep him in there.”

Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437