Thursday, January 13, 2011
Shooting the breeze with Matt Hasselbeck
By Mike Sando
RENTON, Wash. -- Matt Hasselbeck was at his best for the Seattle Seahawks against New Orleans in the wild-card round Saturday.
The quarterback might have been better during his weekly media session Thursday.
Loose and reflective, Hasselbeck congratulated quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch on landing a job at "Miami of Ohio" -- it was the University of Miami -- and deadpanned that he hugged coach Pete Carroll for saying the team wanted Hasselbeck to return next season.
The laid-back image Carroll projected when he answered a reporter's phone during a news conference Wednesday mirrors the tone he sets internally. That marks a change from former coach Mike Holmgren, who was more of a taskmaster behind the scenes.
"I can remember before some playoff games, myself feeling the need to break the ice, lighten the mood a little bit," Hasselbeck said. "Now, if anything, I'm feeling the desire to really get everybody to focus in a little bit more and just tighten screws a little bit."
Hasselbeck pointed to potential distractions surrounding a road playoff game in a major city. The team will arrive Friday, a day earlier than usual. Players will have free time.
"It's not a shopping trip, it's a business trip," Hasselbeck said.
The Seahawks have a good mix of personalities on their coaching staff, Hasselbeck said. He described offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates as having the demeanor of an old-school line coach, whereas Fisch is more relaxed. Carroll is ... Carroll.
"His style works with the group of coaches we have," Hasselbeck said.
A few other highlights from Hasselbeck's media session:
- Hasselbeck doesn't like wearing long sleeves, even in cold weather. Holmgren once tried to change his mind by saying, "Hey, John Wayne, put some sleeves on." What about Sunday in chilly Chicago? Hasselbeck: "The sun hasn't been out here in a long time, so we'll see. I've got the Jon Ryan look going right now."
- Hasselbeck, as a veteran late-round pick, wouldn't give too much credit, at least in public, to rookie first-round tackle Russell Okung for fighting through ankle trouble. Hasselbeck: "Expectations are high for him. As far as the limping, I don't know. I think that is just how he walks. He's been doing that since he got here. Maybe it's a strut. He has done a good job. He held out, so that slowed down the process, but we were counting on him Day 1."
- On periodically crediting Bates and Fisch by name: "They give me a dollar every time I do that."
- On Carroll's comments about wanting him back: "I went and gave him a hug." Hasselbeck paused. Reporters laughed. "No. I mean, I'm very focused on this year. We have talked all year, even from last year, Pete and me and everyone here. We've been very open about everything. I would love to be back, absolutely, no doubt about that, but my focus isn't really there. My focus is on getting this team to win games, trying to play well. Just like in a football game, if you focus on doing things right, the score takes care of itself. That is my mindset with what happens beyond this year."