To an outsider, these might seem like "meaningless" games down the stretch, but such is the myopia of many casual "fans." These last five games will influence scores of personnel decisions for the forthcoming VMAC administration, including the fate of Seattle's most well-known and probably most popular player.
I vividly remember when I first heard that the Seahawks had sealed the long-rumored trade to acquire Green Bay back-up QB Matt Hasselbeck. I was at a Steve's Dakota Grill in Findlay, Ohio with my wife and a couple of her friends, and when the Hasselbeck deal was announced on ESPN I pounded on the table and let out a squeal of delight. Holmgren had his QB of the future. WE had OUR franchise quarterback. No more Kitna, no more Huard. Hasselbeck had been "Mr. August" for the Packers and I fervently hoped he'd be Mr. January for us.
At the first opportunity, I ran out and bought a Hasselbeck jersey, but like everyone else in the Twelve Army I was let down by his performance in 2001. I won't lie: After Dilfer took the reigns, I thought HE'D be the man for a spell, and Beck would join Gale Gilbert, Kelly Stouffer, Dan McGwire, Rick Mirer and Jon Kitna as failed "QBs of the future."
Thankfully everyone, including me, was dead wrong. Matt Hasselbeck blossomed into the best quarterback who ever put on a Seahawks uniform, and came damn close to bringing a World Championship back to Seattle. Now, slowed by injuries and hitting his mid-30s, there is rampant speculation that his days as the Seahawks QB are numbered.
There's lot of rational evidence that Beck's skills are diminishing, and that the Seahawks need to find his replacement in next year's draft (most of which you can find over on Field Gulls). My problem is that when it comes to Beck, I'm pretty irrational. I feel a personal bond with him based on his personality, our near-exact ages, and his years of success in Seattle despite absorbing brutal punishment. He's my favorite player by far, and I don't want his time with Seattle to end on a down note. Over these last five games, I want him to make the case that the Seahawks don't need to run out and spend a first round pick on someone like Colt McCoy.
The more clear-eyed and cutthroat folks out there probably see this as folly: Hasselbeck is clearly spent! There's no room for sentimentality! There's probably even some people out there rooting for Beck to stink it up over these last five games, just to remove all doubt about his future as Seattle's starter. It's entirely possible that a rough finish for Beck this season could lead to the new regime cutting #8 loose, and then we might see him linger in the league as a back-up for a few years like Krieg did before him. Backing up Tom Brady in New England would seem like a natural fit given his Boston roots, but this is too depressing to contemplate.
I want to see Beck make the next GM's decision about the QB position complex and difficult. Over these last five games, I want Beck to go all Dave-Krieg-in-1986 on everyone's asses. If you're old enough, you remember the magical final month of the '86 season. This was the absolute peak of Dave Krieg's career: Over a 5-0 stretch he fired 11 touchdowns and one lonely interception. His QB rating? 130.96. Of course, Krieg was a spry 28-year-old in 1986, not a 34-year-old warhorse.
The end of Dave Krieg's Seahawks saga also is a word if caution for the team's incoming leadership. Krieg was tossed out into the street when he still had productive years left, and Seattle went through a dark decade vainly groping around for the answer at quarterback. Even if a young stud is drafted, it would be wise to keep Hasselbeck and his voluminous football knowledge in the Seahawks fold (for vastly reduced pay, of course... Hermes Conrad-style).
This Sunday, I hope not just for a win, but for something special from The Objectivist. Either way, I plan to appreciate what might be our last month watching this man lead our team.
Good luck, Hass!