Hasselbeck on increasingly shaky ground in Seattle

Posted Dec. 20, 2010 @ 6:33 p.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

While the Seahawks’ playoff hopes remain very much alive thanks to the NFC West’s continued ineptitude, their QB situation has become a major hassle at the worst possible time. After being removed from the Seahawks’ latest one-sided loss having registered three turnovers (a fumble and two interceptions that led to 17 Atlanta points) and a pathetic 28.9 passer rating, it appears Matt Hasselbeck’s longtime run under center in Seattle might have run its course.

It has become clear that Hasselbeck, who has committed a ghastly 13 turnovers in the last four games (10 interceptions and three fumbles), is no longer the people’s choice at Qwest Field, where cries of “Charlie!, Charlie!” yesterday suggested a definite preference the remainder of the season for backup Charlie Whitehurst.

Hasselbeck’s latest struggles are reminiscent of his sharp decline at the same point last season, and head coach Pete Carroll said after his team’s 34-18 loss to a far superior Falcons team that a decision on the starting QB job for the next game at Tampa Bay this Sunday is admittedly very much up in the air. 

Whitehurst, who remains a relatively unproven commodity, threw for more yards in a little more than a quarter against the Falcons (83 yards) than Hasselbeck did in nearly three quarters (71 yards). On his second possession in place of Hasselbeck, Whitehurst directed an 88-yard TD drive culminated by his one-yard TD run. Displaying considerable more mobility than Hasselbeck, Whitehurst ran three times for 10 yards, including a fourth-down run for a first down on the aforementioned scoring drive.

The PFW Spin

The suspicion here is that, regardless of whom their quarterback is in the last two weeks of the season, the Seahawks are going to have an extremely difficult time winning another game. While a switch to Whitehurst this Sunday might provide a bit of a lift, the Seahawks’ other shortcomings seem too great to keep them in the playoff hunt. Granted, they did somehow manage to pull off upsets against some decent teams earlier in the season (the Chargers in Week Three and the Bears in Week Six). And they did actually get off to a very strong start against the Falcons with a good-looking game-opening 80-yard scoring drive, in addition to the defense holding the Falcons to a season-low 266 yards.

But the defense also allowed the Falcons to convert 9-of-19 third downs plus 2-of-2 fourth downs and became increasingly vulnerable through the air after CB Marcus Trufant left the game with a back injury. In addition, the run game that looked so good early on did a disappearing act as the game wore on, which has been par for the course this season.

Considering the problems they’ve had the last couple of years with games in the Eastern time zone, as well as the fact that Tampa Bay will be champing at the bit after getting upset last week by the feisty Lions, the Seahawks’ hopes for a win this coming weekend seem faint at best.

Amazingly, though, they could lose and still have a shot at winning the NFC West in a season-ending showdown against the Rams if St. Louis loses to the 49ers this Sunday, and the Niners lose the next week to Arizona — two definite possibilities in a division that has become a major embarrassment.

But no matter how you cut it, the Seahawks quite frankly don’t appear to be anything close to a playoff-caliber team at present.