CHICAGO - OCTOBER 17: Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Seattle Seahawks looks for a receiver against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 17 2010 in Chicago Illinois. The Seahawks defeated the Bears 23-20. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Matt Hasselbeck
Matt Hasselbeck has had a tough run. Though he's certainly no sparkling talent himself anymore, his teammates have mostly stunk too. That's how you arrive at a bottom feeder offense: bad quarterback, bad talent surrounding that quarterback. Before his decline caved in around him, Hasselbeck was one of two great quarterbacks to ever be a Seahawk. He is now within one win of tying that other great quarterback, Dave Krieg, for Seattle's all-time record for quarterback wins: 70.
And I could not care less.
Quarterback wins is among the most pointless of pointless stats. They credit the quarterback for the entire outcome of a game. The quarterback is credited or debited for both the quality of his teammates and the quality of his opponent. It's a terrible stat and in no way representative of a quarterback's ability.
Hasselbeck is reaching this milestone because of gross managerial error. He shouldn't still be starting. Seattle should have been ready to move on from Hasselbeck halfway through the 2009 season, but instead, he was allowed to fight on. Over the last three seasons, Hasselbeck has closed in on Krieg's record by sheer volume of games. His quarterback record since 2008 is 12-21. In that same span, Hasselbeck surpassed Krieg in the more dubious honor of most losses by a quarterback in Seahawks history. Hasselbeck is now six games behind Jim Zorn. Zorn lost 60. That is, the expansion Seahawks lost 60 games while Zorn did his damndest to survive.
No, with apologies to Krazyleggs and whoever else takes stock in these milestones, I would be just as happy if Hasselbeck never overtook Krieg.
And here's why.
Matt Hasselbeck was a great quarterback. It didn't happen all at once but it happened, and his prime is the happiest era of my Seahawks fandom. He was precise, oh so damn precise. It wasn't just accuracy but timing and trust between him and his receivers. He threw it. They caught it. First down. First down. First down.
The greatest story of the NFC Championship was Hasselbeck. Maybe it's the baldness, the perennially worried face, the modern dodderer some confuse his former self with, but I forgot how athletic and graceful Hasselbeck once was. He wore out Julius Peppers. He stepped through pressure, could pass from any position, could begin a rollout, sense an end coming free and abort and throw with zip. Hasselbeck was once an athletic and intelligent scrambler. He had great footwork and made honest to God open field moves. He was confident in his reads and could throw all over the field, just supremely in the moment as only the greatest can be. Hasselbeck had the perfect mix of touch and zip, and his passes appeared in windows he'd never think to attempt anymore. He was a different man. A younger man. Decline denial only seems more odorous after watching just how great he once was.
Matt wasn't playing with a bunch of sensational athletes. His receiving corps -- as was common for Hasselbeck throughout his career -- was adequate to sub par. Matt was the sensational athlete. Matt was the player doing things that made us smile. Matt was great, truly, no fabrication, great, but he's not anymore.
Winning 70 won't make him better and it won't cement his standing in Seahawks history. I highly doubt Hasselbeck himself cares. I don't know Matt, but I can guess, what Matt always wanted is to be great. He wanted to be a great quarterback in the National Football League. And he was. Not for long, but he was. And it was a truly special time to be a Seahawks fan when he was.
That, that gift of greatness he shared with us is his legacy. Concocted statistics, and post-hoc rationalizations and qualifications and minimizations can go to hell. Matt Hasselbeck was a great quarterback in the NFL, and a Seahawk, and I saw it with my own damn eyes.