Self doubt? Not Hasselbeck

Posted Oct 22, 2009

Seahawks quarterback says the bye-week talk of the season being over for his injury-ravaged team after just six games is “absolutely ridiculous.”

They’ve practiced. They’ve gotten healthier. They’ve continued to rehab. They’ve even had some fun.

So what’s next for the Seahawks during their bye week?

Down time, and even some get-away-from-it time.

That’s the message offensive coordinator Greg Knapp gave to his players as the Seahawks began their extended bye-week weekend on Thursday.

“One of the things our offensive coaching staff asked us to do was work hard this week, go back to basics, work on our fundamentals, and then take the weekend and get away,” quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said.

“If you want to see a high school football game – or college, or pro – fine. But the advice was, ‘Hey, just get away.’ Because hopefully we’ve got a lot of football left.”

For Hasselbeck, that means going to his kids’ soccer matches this weekend, and not waking up Monday morning with the residuals of having played a game on Sunday.

“It’s really nice waking up on Monday morning not feeling like you’ve been in a car wreck,” said Hasselbeck, who has played the past two games with a fractured rib.

Rookie guard Max Unger will be on the sideline at Husky Stadium on Saturday, when his alma mater – Oregon – takes on the University of Washington. Rookie defensive end Nick Reed, another former Duck (is there really such a thing?), is passing up Oregon coming to him by returning to Eugene to see friends and family.

Wide receiver Nate Burleson is hoping for good weather – or at least dry weather – so he can take his kids to the park. Fellow wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh doesn’t care what the weather will be like here, because he’s heading to Las Vegas.

Returning refreshed, and invigorated, is a must. Because the Seahawks are looking at a 10-game stretch to close their first season under coach Jim Mora that includes home games against four opponents who currently have four wins between them – the Lions (1-5), 49ers (3-2), Buccaneers (0-6) and Titans (0-6); but also six road games – including trips to Minnesota (6-0), Green (3-2), Dallas (3-2) and Arizona (3-2).

Once capable of beating any team on any given day at Qwest Field, the injury-ravaged Seahawks are 2-2 at home this season and 4-8 over the past two seasons. Going on the road was problematic for the Seahawks even when they were winning four consecutive NFC West titles (2004-07), and they are 2-8 away from Qwest the past two seasons.

The team did get healthier during its bye week, as cornerback Marcus Trufant and linebacker Leroy Hill returned to practice for the first time this season (Trufant) and the first time since the week before the season opener (Hill). But middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu is now out with a torn pectoral, and neither Walter Jones nor Sean Locklear appears ready to return for the Nov. 1 game in Dallas – so fifth-option Damion McIntosh could be the starter at left tackle.

Factor in that 12 starters already have missed a combined 35 games, as well as the inconsistency that situation has helped produce, and some already have given up on this 2-4 team for this season.

Hasselbeck has a message for those doubters.

“I think people have definitely counted us out. I think there’s a lot of negativity around our team. I’ve heard people say that the season’s over, we’ve got no chance,” he said. “That’s ridiculous. That’s absolutely ridiculous.

“I think for us, as a team, this is an opportunity for us to pull together and prove people wrong. But it’s also an opportunity where you’ve seen teams in the past point the finger at each other, maybe whisper or doubt the plan that the coaches have put forth. Mentally, we’ve got to rise above all that stuff.

“It would be easy for us to make excuses about whatever, but I think what’s important is that we block that stuff out and just continue to work hard – and just stay together and continue to be a team.”

While Hasselbeck obviously doesn’t care for the negativity, he can understand it.

“It’s sports,” he said. “It’s no different than any other sport. A team goes down 3-0 in a seven-game series and everyone’s like, ‘Ah, it’s over.’ But it’s not over. You’re chances are much worse. You’ve made it a lot harder on yourself. But it’s not over.

“That’s what we’ve done – we’ve made it a lot harder on ourselves. We’ve lost games at home that we could have won. Now we’ve got to do something we haven’t been necessarily great at: We’ve got to go on the road and win some games.”