Q&A with Matt Hasselbeck
Q: What has been your team's response to inflated expectations? Hasselbeck: Inflated, huh? Loaded question. Wow. Honestly, we're not caught up in it one way or the other. If people were picking us to finish last in the division, I don't think it would really affect us too much. If they were picking us first, I don't think it would affect us too much. The truth is that we have not won our division. The Rams have won the division the last two years. The Rams are the division champs and they are the team to beat. That is just the truth. Those are the facts. What people write or predict, that doesn't matter. What matters is what has happened and what is going to happen. So, we really as a team haven't accomplished much. Our goal is to win our division, and that is always going to be our goal. We haven't even done that yet, so I think that is where our focus is. Q: How have you changed things up to do well on the road this year as opposed to last year? Hasselbeck: I don't think it was anything magical last year. I think if you look at last year, we played pretty good, but we just turned the ball over. We didn't get off the field on third downs. We turned the ball over in red zone. Just things you can't do and expect to win. As far as the players are concerned, I don't know how the coaches feel, but as players, we never felt like it had anything to do with being at home or being on the road. We just didn't play good in games that we happened to be the visiting team. We talk about stuff. We talk about not letting ourselves be distracted in certain areas. Bottom line is that we just have to go out and execute football plays. Q: How do you keep composure when it comes to crunch time? Hasselbeck: A couple of years ago, something that we would say over and over again is that there is a fine line between winning and losing, and we were just on the wrong side of that fine line in a bunch of games. That is how we still feel, it is just that we are barely on the other side of that fine line right now. That is where we are at. Hopefully, we can improve and become a great team, but right now we are winning some close games. Sometimes that is what it takes, but I think it is a great thing to be doing while we're growing up and trying to get better as a team. Q: What does it take to be on the right side of that fine line? Hasselbeck: I think it comes down to three or four plays in a game, where you as a player have an opportunity to really make a difference. There are three or four plays where you are, ‘Man, if I would have just made that catch or if you I would have just made that throw or if I could have made that guy miss or if I would have made that tackle.' The whole game is different. Each player can say, ‘hey, three or four plays, if I just make those three or four plays.' That could go either way. If you just make those plays, I think it gives your team a great chance to win the game. I think that is what we are doing to a certain extent. Last week, there was one offensive play that essentially won us the game. We just made that one play work perfectly and it gave our team the lead that we needed. Obviously on defense, they made a bunch of plays. They made some plays on our behalf. I think that is what it takes. Again, it's a tough game and it is tough to get wins. Q: Can coaches help you out in that area? Hasselbeck: I'm not sure. I think they could try, but ultimately, I think it is up to the guys on the football field. There is a split second as a quarterback right before you let the ball go while you are throwing that you make a decision as how am I going to throw this ball or am I going to throw this ball. Same thing with a wide receiver when the ball is in the air and time freezes for a second and it's like, am I going to catch this ball? Am I going to come down with it? I'm covered, this will be an unbelievable catch. Am I going to come down with a touchdown? Same thing with a linebacker. Here I am, this is my tackle and it is just me and the runner. What is going to happen here? So, I don't know. You can talk about it, but I think it is up to the player to actually get it done. Q: What are your impressions of 49ers linebacker Julian Peterson? Hasselbeck: He's a good player. He's a very good player. He's very athletic. There are a number of really quality players on that defense. You look at the 49ers and you say that they are 0-2, but that team can very easily be 2-0. I have no idea about their offense because I don't see that tape, but their defense, they look like a very good team. A very good team. We have a lot of respect for them as a defense and their players. Obviously, Julian is one of the better players on that defense. He's great in coverage. He's a great pass-rusher. They move him around a little bit and use him in different situations. We feel like we know what we are up against and he's a very good player. Q: How tough is Seattle's defense? Hasselbeck: Off the back, I don't have to go up against Bobby Taylor or Grant Wistrom this year, so it just makes my job easier just the fact that I don't have to face those guys, especially Grant in St. Louis in the dome. So, automatically that helps our team. In terms of what those guys can do on defense, I don't know exactly but I got to imagine that just the level of leadership and what people call intangibles, being that those guys have been in the big games, have been around and know what it takes to win. There are guys that Ray Rhodes and his coaches can just depend on. It's nice. What has been really exciting for me is to see how our young corners have really improved and worked hard. Ken Hamlin is a safety and Marcus Trufant and Kenny Lucas, those guys just had great offseasons. They stayed up here with us and worked out with us everyday. Ken Lucas I think is one of the better corners going right now and Marcus Trufant is obviously a great player. Then, you are throwing in new young guys who are learning what to do in Michael Boulware and guys like that. They are just making plays and coming up with turnovers. It has just been fun to watch. It is actually going to help a lot this year. Q: What do you have to do to be successful against 49ers defense? Hasselbeck: I think we just have to go out and do our stuff. You know, run our plays and just execute them. That is sort of the philosophy here. That is Mike Holmgren's philosophy. That is what I think his background is. We're not going to be too concerned with the defense and what they do. We're going to worry about ourselves and what we need to do. Let's execute our plays and be offensive on offense. Sometimes, teams are kind of defensive in their style of play on offense. That is not Mike Holmgren's style. He likes to be offensive. Really, I think the thing our coaches are hammering home to us this week is, hey, we need to be assignment correct. We weren't assignment correct last week and it hurt us. Each guy needs to do his job, just like we do in practice and that will make our offense go. Q: Are you a lot more recognizable after leading the Seahawks to the playoffs last year? Hasselbeck: The only time I do get stopped is when somebody hears my name and somebody says, ‘Oh my gosh, I have that guy on my fantasy team.' That is about it. Other than that, there is a lot going on in Seattle and it is not necessarily that the Seahawks are the only game in town. Q: Is it important for an NFL quarterback to be recognizable? Hasselbeck: I don't know. I think it is like the golf game. It would be nice to have, but if you don't, no biggie. Q: How are you dealing with your contract status right now? Hasselbeck: Well, something good is coming up. If I play well, something good will come up. That is the way I look at it. It's not a problem at all. The problem was my first year in the NFL when I was a sixth-round draft pick competing against a former first-round pick. I was just trying to find a way to make the team so I didn't have to buy a suit and get a real job. That was stressful. This isn't really that stressful. This is kind of a win-win situation as long as I go out and play well. Q: Has anything good come out from you claiming victory after winning the overtime coin toss in the playoff game against Green Bay last year? Hasselbeck: I don't know. That wasn't the intent. One of the things that we had been talking about for a couple of years is that we have a pretty good team and we are pretty talented, we just need to believe in ourselves and believe in each other, and yeah, we can get this thing done. We can get this thing done with the guys that are in this room. And that is part of what that was. Guys, we're good enough and let's go do it. That was fun at the time and it got John Randle. He's fired up. He's one of my favorite teammates of all time. But also, that was just sort of having fun. That game was a lot of fun for me to go back and play at Lambeau and to play against a lot of good friends. It's just very in line with what my relationship is with Brett and all of those guys. It was just having fun. Yeah, you could say talking trash, but it was just very friendly trash-talking like you are playing horse in the driveway or something. It was fun. I don't regret it. It gives those guys a little more ammunition to make fun of me for. But, they've got plenty of ammunition already. So, it's all good. It was fun seeing those guys in the preseason this year. Obviously, they weren't going to let me live it down. It was fun and I don't regret it. The only thing I regret is that we didn't go and score.
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