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Matt Hasselbeck's Bad Day: The Conclusion

Before I get any farther, happy Thanksgiving for those who celebrate. I'm thankful for the Seahawks however bad, a job that allows me to do this and still support my family, and the fans who love this team and love football like I do. Thanks for reading.

We'll have a game thread up tomorrow, but I leave town on Friday. I can't promise much in the way of posts before Monday. Home teams do get calls, and I expect Dallas's holds to be forgiven and Seattle's interference to be flagged. I expect a better team getting healthy to pave its way to the playoffs through an inferior team playing out the stretch. And I expect Hasselbeck to play better or not make it through the contest. I'll explain why in a second.

Let's get to business.

Play Seventeen:

3-12-SEA 32 (5:23) 8-M.Hasselbeck pass deep right intended for 18-K.Robinson INTERCEPTED by 30-L.Landry [92-D.Evans] at SEA 48. 30-L.Landry to SEA 35 for 13 yards (20-M.Morris).

Seattle sets WR (Right), WR (Left), TE (Left), I formation.

Washington sets in a 4-3.

Washington blitzes six.

The blitz is mostly picked up, but Porkchop is struggling with Evans.

Matt Hasselbeck has three seconds in the pocket before he throws.

Carlson runs a square in.

Weaver runs into the flat.

Morris picks up Horton. (Good blocking game by Morris)

Robinson runs a curl.

The pocket is morphing left, Hasselbeck doesn't step up, but sidesteps and throws side armed.

The ball sails five yards in from Robinson.

Landry makes a diving catch for the interception.

Prognosis: An errant throw boomerangs as Landry shows his range with a diving interception. The weird side arm throw isn't new to Hasselbeck's arsenal. A superlative DB makes him pay.

Play Eighteen:

1-10-SEA 38 (3:19) 8-M.Hasselbeck pass short right to 20-M.Morris to SEA 42 for 4 yards (52-R.McIntosh).

Seattle sets 2 WR (Left), 2 WR (Right), Rb.

The receivers are bunched tight.

Washington sets in a 4-3.

Inside left receiver Engram runs into the flat.

Inside right receiver Carlson runs a ten yard out.

Outside right receiver runs a China.

Morris runs into the right flat.

Hasselbeck reads left, middle, right and then underthrows Morris.

Morris picks from his shoe tops and is tackled after a net gain of four.

Prognosis: Morris is wide open and the underthrow limits yards after catch.

Play Nineteen:

3-5-WAS 44 (:32) 8-M.Hasselbeck pass short right to 83-D.Branch to WAS 33 for 11 yards (22-C.Rogers).

Seattle sets 2 WR (Left), WR (Right), TE (Right), Rb.

Washington sets in a 4-2 nickel.

Engram, slot left, calls out opposing corner Springs' blitz.

Springs blitzes.

Washington blitzes five.

Taylor (Left) and Branch (Right) run slants.

Hasselbeck makes one read and delivers a strike to Branch's outside shoulder.

Branch catches, first down.

Prognosis: Hasselbeck makes his read, sees Branch's step and delivers a perfect pass where only Branch can catch, but where Branch can catch it without acrobatics.

Play Twenty: The "Wobbler"

1-10-WAS 33 (15:00) 8-M.Hasselbeck pass incomplete deep middle to 83-D.Branch (22-C.Rogers).

Seattle sets WR (Left), WR (Right), TE (Right), I formation.

Washington sets in a 4-3.

Weaver runs into the flat.

Carlson runs a post.

Robinson runs a go.

Branch runs a twenty yard square in.

Weaver is wide open in the left flat.

Branch has a half step on Rogers.

Hasselbeck looks off left, throws middle.

Matt Vasgersian calls it a "wobbler".

The ball does in fact wobble twice.

Rogers comes over top Branch and swats the ball away.

Prognosis: It's tight coverage and an incompletion isn't a huge failure, but the pass is disturbingly slow. Hasselbeck throws from the 46. Branch is at the 14. It's a 32 yard pass to the center of the field; a pass an NFL quarterback should be able to make.

Play Twenty One:

2-10-WAS 33 (14:54) 22-J.Jones up the middle to WAS 31 for 2 yards (48-C.Horton). 

Seattle sets 2 WR (Left), WR (Right), Split backs.

Washington sets in a 4-2 nickel.

Weaver runs into the flat

Jones runs a center curl.

Branch runs a square in.

Engram runs a post.

Hasselbeck reads right, center, left, center and passes.

The throw wobbles once but finds its mark; Engram for 21.

Prognosis: It works, mostly  because Engram runs a pristine route, but for the second play Hasselbeck's throw hardly inspires confidence.

Play Twenty Two:

2-17-SEA 31 (8:03) 8-M.Hasselbeck pass short left to 86-C.Taylor to SEA 37 for 6 yards (24-S.Springs).

Seattle sets WR (Left), 2 WR (Left), SB.

Washington in a 4-2 nickel.

Washington blitzes McIntosh from the left and Smoot from the outside right.

Linebacker Blades buzzes right (offensive left).

Taylor (Left), sees the blitz, stops and awaits Beck's pass.

Beck underthrows Taylor.

Springs, playing safety, sprints from the third level and tackles Taylor.

Prognosis: The undethrow again limits yard after catch.

Play Twenty Three:

3-11-SEA 37 (7:22) 8-M.Hasselbeck pass incomplete short right to 84-B.Engram [48-C.Horton].

Seattle sets 2 WR (Left), 2 WR (Right), Rb.

Washington sets in a 4-1 dime.

McIntosh and Horton blitz from the offensive right.

No one picks it up.

Horton hits Hasselbeck.

Hasselbeck throws it kinda near Engram.

Horton low bridges Spencer.

Spencer falls on Hasselbeck.

Prognosis: Not sure how they missed that blitz. Horton comes untouched without anyone missing an assignment. Horton plays linebacker via safety, so it's not like his intention were obscured.

Play Twenty Four: The End

1-10-SEA 22 (1:28) 8-M.Hasselbeck pass deep left intended for 18-K.Robinson INTERCEPTED by 24-S.Springs at SEA 44. 24-S.Springs to SEA 44 for no gain.

Seattle sets 2 WR (Left), WR (Right), TE (Right), RB

Washington sets in a 4-2.

Inside left receiver Engram runs into the flat.

Branch runs a China.

Carlson runs a corner route.

Morris runs into the right flat,

And Koren Robinson...

Prognosis: It's hard to know exactly what route Robinson was running, because he hadn't run it at the time of Hasselbeck's pass. Robinson looks befuddled and entirely unready. Hasselbeck stares down Robinson from the snap, and it's little wonder someone was ready to jump the route. This is play call confusion, and no matter how dire the outcome, not very telling of what's wrong with Seattle's offense or what's wrong with Seattle's quarterback.

Conclusions: Matt Hasselbeck's ability to throw short and mid, once the foundation of his arsenal, has declined so quickly it almost defies explanation. The short pass has haunted Hasselbeck all season. The mid range pass has been spotty, but never this bad. Hasselbeck is making some bad reads, but the greater problem is he's not completing the right reads he makes. He can no longer make "all the throws". Declining arm strength might explain his lacking velocity on mid range throws, but underthrowing receivers short could be rust or simply an aberration.

Mike Holmgren implemented a pared down playbook for much of the contest. It kept Seattle competitive. Did Holmgren do so to protect Hasselbeck? And if Hasselbeck is not fully healthy, why would he start for a 2-9 team?

I think Hasselbeck's lost touch and arm strength are symptomatic of his ailing back. If he's recovering, that will begin to return to normal over the remainder of the season. If it's not, and I don't see how playing football would expedite recovery, defenses will slowly narrow their coverage to where Hasselbeck can throw. Dallas should saturate the middle of the field, the half circle that extends twenty five yards in all direction from the pocket, and challenge Hasselbeck to beat them deep and on the edges. If they do, and, well, there's no guarantee they will, Hasselbeck could further decline. His effective range taken away, Hasselbeck will be forced to throw into coverage or take hits. For Seattle,the alternative is a continued emphasis on the short passing game. Dallas is superficially weak defending receiving running backs. If that's the lone weapon Seattle has, they will not continue to be.