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Friday, October 1, 2010
Personnel report: Hasselbeck's approach

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck rolled to his right on third-and-1, directing traffic with his left hand and settling outside the yard-line numbers at his own 38.

The Seattle Seahawks led the San Diego Chargers, 17-7, midway through the third quarter. Tight end John Carlson had about 3 yards on the nearest San Diego defender as he crossed the San Diego 40. Hasselbeck threw away the ball instead of risking a potentially tight throw. Seattle punted.

That play reflected the conservative approach Hasselbeck took throughout much of the Seahawks' eventual 27-20 victory. His head coach, Pete Carroll, has stressed turnover avoidance. Hasselbeck was coming off a three-interception game the previous week. The Seahawks were leading San Diego. The throw Hasselbeck made said, "Don't blow the game here. Let's play it safe."

There might come a time this season when Hasselbeck feels more comfortable cutting loose. My personnel charting -- on display in this file for download -- shows Hasselbeck and the passing game at their best as Seattle adds more wide receivers to the offensive huddle. Hasselbeck has thrown four of his five interceptions from two-receiver personnel despite making 56 percent of his attempts with three or more receivers on the field.

The sample size remains relatively small, but the evidence is strong. Hasselbeck is leading the NFL in completion percentage on third down, when teams usually use more wide receivers.

Seattle's passing game could become more effective from two-receiver personnel once Seattle better establishes its running game, and when the team becomes more cohesive from those groupings.

So far, Carlson and Chris Baker have shared time at tight end in the base offense (two backs, one tight end). The team appears to be settling on Michael Robinson at fullback after releasing Quinton Ganther. The rotation at receiver remains in some flux as Golden Tate earns more consideration, Mike Williams plays through a shoulder injury and Brandon Stokley becomes an option from the slot.

The first chart shows Hasselbeck's numbers against San Diego by personnel group, based on my charting. I do not count spike plays in the attempts.

The second chart shows Hasselbeck's production by personnel group through three games, also based on my charting.