- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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ESPN’s 30-part Ron Jaworski QB Countdown has broken into the high teens and touched on the AFC South for a second time.
Here’s some of what Jaworski said about Hasselbeck as he looked at some film:
“Hasselbeck is coming off a 2011 season in which he started all 16 games for only the fourth time in his 13-year NFL career. No quarterback fits the description of ‘savvy veteran’ better than Hasselbeck.
“You know where those smarts and awareness really showed up? In the red zone. How about these numbers, folks? Thirteen touchdown passes, no interceptions, a red-zone quarterback rating of 110. Red zone efficiency results from pre-snap recognition and post-snap validation of past coverage. Hasselbeck saw a 2-shell look before the snap. Two deep safeties. The route combination was four verticals. On his drop, Hasselbeck kept his head and his eyes focused straight down the middle. That kept the deep safety inside the numbers playing Jared Cook's vertical, not (Lavelle) Hawkins’. Then he came to Hawkins, saw the corner trailing, and immediately knew he had a touchdown. Manipulation and recognition.
“One thing Hasselbeck has always done well is throw the ball in the outside void in cover 2. That's one of the most difficult throws. It demands anticipation, touch and accuracy. Those are Hasselbeck's attributes. He has compensated for limited arm strength with excellent anticipation and precise ball location. Look at when he pulls the trigger here, and look where he places it. That's as good as it gets. He recognizes coverages and matchups, like his tight end Jared Cook on a linebacker versus cover 2, and knows quickly and decisively where to go with the football. Hasselbeck in the twilight of his career can still play the position at a very high level. I'm not quite certain, however, that on the opening Sunday of the 2012 season he will be the Titans’ starting quarterback.”
The red zone skill is wonderful, though it's natural to wonder if Hasselbeck can duplicate it. The other question is if Hasselbeck will be the best guy to get the Titans inside the 20.