A helpful hire for Hasselbeck

Published on October 8, 2010 by     T.C.

The acquisition of Marshawn Lynch this week won’t just help the Seahawks’ running game; it also will be beneficial to QB Matt Hasselbeck and the passing game.

Count Matt Hasselbeck among the fans of the trade to acquire Marshawn Lynch.

The Seahawks’ quarterback knows that the addition of the hard-running, yet versatile, tailback can only help an offense that ranks 28th in the league after the first quarter of the NFL season – and also make his job a little easier in the process.

“It’s always bittersweet that first day. You know, you lose a guy (Julius Jones) who has done everything we’ve asked him to do,” Hasselbeck said Wednesday, as his teammates were beating a hasty retreat from the Virginia Mason Athletic Center to begin their four-day bye weekend.

“But at the same time you get a spark. You really get just a boost from getting a guy like that. He brings something to our team that we didn’t have. He’s a big, powerful, strong back who loves football, has a good football IQ and complements Justin (Forsett) and what he does well. So it’s exciting to have him.”

Lynch was obtained Tuesday in a trade with the Buffalo Bills and practiced with the Seahawks for the first time less than 24 hours later – in the second of the team’s two bye-week workouts.

“He did a great job,” Hasselbeck said of Lynch’s first-day efforts. “For him to jump in like that and have no errors or no mistakes is pretty good.”

That’s because Lynch, a 5-foot-11, 217-pounder who is in his fourth NFL season is pretty good. He had back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons after being the Bills’ first round draft choice in 2007. His role was diminished last season and he was sharing time with Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller this season. But that’s pretty good, too, because he comes to the Seahawks with that something-to-prove chip on his shoulder pads.

“I don’t know that we’ve ever had a guy like Marshawn,” said Hasselbeck, who has been with the Seahawks since 2001. “He’s a beast.”

Hasselbeck mentioned T.J. Duckett, a big back who was proficient as the short-yardage and goal-line back in 2008. But Duckett wasn’t as fast or versatile as Lynch.

Having a back in Lynch who can pick up those tough yards, as well as be productive on first and second downs to keep the offense out of third-and-long situation, is something coach Pete Carroll has been searching for since he was hired in January.

“It’s just a boost to have that kind of guy, that kind of weapon,” Hasselbeck said. “We’ve been talking about getting the running game going and this makes it a lot tougher for people to defend us. It gives us a huge opportunity in play action, it gives us huge opportunities with the naked bootleg, just all kinds of things – winning first down, winning second down, making third down more manageable.

“I know Pete’s really exciting about him. I know the offensive coaches are excited about him. Even Justin is excited about him. So it’s a good thing.”

And there haven’t been enough good things about the Seahawks’ offense during the team’s 2-2 start. The Seahawks rank 27th in rushing offense, and Hasselbeck has the only two rushing touchdowns. They rank 21st in passing offense, and Hasselbeck has thrown more interceptions (six) than touchdown passes (four). They have started four different combinations on the offensive line. Last week, they were held to only a field goal in the loss to the Rams in St. Louis.

“We clearly need to be better,” Hasselbeck said. “We know that. It’s been made clear. It’s evident.

“We can be so much better. We really can. But we’ve got to do it. We’ve got to come out here with a little more passion, a little more energy, a little more confidence and just cut it loose. You’ve got to play smart, but you’ve also got to cut it loose. You’ve got to have that emotion and you’ve got to be aggressive. You can’t play hesitant. You’ve got to be sure about what you’re doing and do it 100 miles an hour.”

That’s why Hasselbeck didn’t hesitate when asked how he plays to spend his bye weekend.

“It is an off week. Pete is really giving us off,” he said. “But I’m not going to treat it like I’ve treated the other ones in the past. I’m going to treat it a little bit different.”

That starts with focusing on the Oct. 17 game against the Bears in Chicago, even if he will be doing it at home rather than the QB meeting room at VMAC.

“We have to find a way to improve. We have to find a way to show our best this next game,” Hasselbeck said. “I’ve got a laptop which has all the plays – all their plays, all our plays from the year. Similar to everything that I have at my disposal in the quarterback room. So I’m going to spend a good amount of time on that.”

Especially now that he and the offense have a back like Lynch at their disposal.

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