Jan 1, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (8) in the huddle against the Houston Texans in the first quarter at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

Can Matt Hasselbeck Lead the Tennessee Titans to a Super Bowl?


This question has been on my mind ever since the Tennessee Titans decided to sign Matt Hasselbeck. I wasn’t a huge fan of the team signing him but at the time they did not have much of a choice.

Hasselbeck went out and had one of his best seasons as a starter but the Titans missed out on a playoff berth. His stats were not very impressive and I started wondering how Hasselbeck compared to other QBs in the NFL over the last few seasons. I’ve always been a stats guy so I decided to do a little research on QBs from the last few seasons. My apologies for not creating a complex formula to show the effectiveness of QBs but I figured that the basics would do just fine.

I created a chart of quarterbacks that ranked in the top five in categories like completions, completion %, yards, touchdowns and QB rating. Below is the chart for the last three seasons. Check out the names highlighted in red. All of these guys have gone on to win a Super Bowl championship.

Amazing how often certain names constantly appear on the list. One name you did not see once on this list: Matt Hasselbeck. In fact, over the last five seasons Matt Hasselbeck has not finished in the top five in any of the categories listed above.

Quarterback play is the difference in winning a Super Bowl or being home for the playoffs. If the Titans are to make a Super Bowl run one of two things may need to happen. First, the other skill players around Hasselbeck will have to play much better. It’s obvious that he’s not a quarterback that can carry a team like the players highlighted above so guys like CJ, Britt, Washington and Cook will have to step their games up drastically. If they fail to step up their games then this next option will need to happen right away.

Start Jake Locker. In limited action last season Locker showed flashes of being a true franchise QB. He’ll need to improve his accuracy but the offense had a different look when he was in the lineup. The offense actually looked explosive for a change. The team invested a high first round selection on Locker. Top 10 picks should be difference makers on the field and not from the sidelines. I think we have already seen the best of Matt Hasselbeck for the Titans and it resulted in only a 9-7 record. Look back on the list above. This is the level of quarterback play needed to get to a Super Bowl. Do you feel that Hasselbeck can play on this level for the Titans? He has not displayed a high level of play over the last five years. It’s hard to imagine that the rest of his career will be any different.

The organization can’t afford to waste time in trying to figure out if Locker can be the next franchise QB for the Titans. The only way is to throw him out there with the first team and see how he performs. The next All-Pro quarterback could be on the team but we’ll never know if he continues to sit behind Hasselbeck.

 

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  • http://www.blackandteal.com/ LukeNSims

    This goes beyond Hasselbeck being a good quarterback.  I personally think the Titans have a decent shot with Hasselbeck.  He did well (not stellar) as the quarterback coming onto the team after a shortened offseason which has an effect on veterans too, especially veterans who have spent so much time with one team like Hasselbeck.  I think it’s a testament to his ability and game IQ that he did as well as he did with CJ2K faltering early on.
     
    Alas, I have hit a tangent.
     
    Back to the point:  Matt Hasselbeck wasn’t brought in just to win a Superbowl (he might not even have been brought in to do that).  Hasselbeck was brought in to be an immediate upgrade over a young quarterback who had some accuracy concerns out of college and to show that player, Jake Locker, how to properly throw a ball.  To give him a mentor figure.  Quarterbacks coaches can do wonders, but really mentors have a profound impact.  While Hasselbeck isn’t exactly Joe Montana, look at what Steve Young was able to do under Montana in San Fran.  The young Young (see what I did there?) was able to tighten his game by observing a very solid quarterback.
     
    Anyway, I think the mentorship thing is an important impact of his placement in Tennessee too.

  • Nate Jones

    If youre crazy

  • http://www.justinlstewart.com/ jstitansized

     @LukeNSims I completely agree with you on the mentorship part. There’s also the fact that Hasselbeck was minus his number one receiver almost the entire season.
     
    I don’t think Hasselbeck is great by any means, but I do find him serviceable and commend him on the work he did this past season. It’s also really interesting to think how he would have performed if the run game hadn’t sputtered out and Britt wouldn’t have gone down. Suppose we’ll never know….

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  • DanielCoyle

     @jstitansized thats the biggest question mark for our offense, britt’s health cj getting back to cj2k form. i would love to see hasselbeck in an offense where we have cj actually performing, could b scary. i am excited for locker but one more year behind hasselbeck could be really good for him.

  • http://www.justinlstewart.com/ jstitansized

     @DanielCoyle Certainly. I’m not a fan of starting Locker this year, personally. I could see him starting halfway through or something but I still feel like he’s got a lot he could learn that will benefit him in the end.

  • seagle1

    Can Hasselbeck lead a team to the Super Bowl? Yes….he did it in 2006. Now granted he had an absolute beast of a running back in Shaun Alexander, a great offensive line and an over performing defense and a huge dash of luck but he took them there. Also he was 31 then and now he’s what, 37. I don’t see him taking the Titans to the super bowl at all but I do see him being a great mentor to Locker. I do think he was a great pick up for the titans but mainly as a stop gap until Locker is ready.

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  • eboyd

    Not really concerned with what he was part of in 2006. Not to mention they lost that game. I want to see this team win a Super Bowl. Why are we cool with our starting QB being average or being nothing more than a stop gap?? This team has not had great play from the QB position in years. Tired of watching teams with great QBs lead their teams to championships while Titans fans continue to suffer watching stop gap QBs like Vince Young, Kerry Collins and Matt Hasselbeck lead this team. If your team does not have elite play out of the quarterback position, you can forget about winning a championship.

  • http://www.justinlstewart.com/ jstitansized

     @eboyd You make good and valid points, I just think most of us are concerned with Jake Lockers’ development. Kid still has a lot he can still learn and we just want him to be the best he can be.
     
    As I said earlier, I could see him starting maybe a 1/3 or 1/2 way through the season. I just want to make sure he’s ready. Either way I’m sure the coaching staff will make the right choice.

  • eboyd

     @jstitansizedLocker struggled with his accuracy but he did not appear to be nervous or unaware when he was on the field. He had confidence and made plays when given the opportunity. I think he needs more snaps with the first team. Hasselbeck can be his mentor from the bench.

  • seagle1

    @ eboyd…..throwing a QB to the wolves when hes not ready can be catastrophic to his development(David Carr, Joey Harrington, and Tim Couch ring a bell) just to name a few. Do you want to call Vince Young a stop gap? He was the best QB in college and the 3rd overall pick….he was no stop gap….he was a swing and a miss, and when you swing and miss on a top 5 QB that can set your franchise back for years…..which it has. I totally understand your frustration with wanting a super bowl….I’ve been a Oilers/titans fan for damn near 30 years. Yes The Seahawks lost…..but they got there, and he led them. Believe me I want a great franchise QB but playing Locker before he’s ready could set us back another 5 years….just like Young did. Also think about the fact that Aaron Rodgers didn’t just get drafted and take the packers to a SB, neither did Steve Young, Tom Brady or Drew Bree’s and a host of other QBs. I would like to say be patient but in one aspect I’m with you…..I want a super bowl championship….soon!!!!

  • eboyd

    @seagle1 – Do you think that Carr, Harrington or Couch would have been any better if they sat on the bench for a year? They just couldn’t play and it showed.
     
    Not mad at the VY pick. The team played him and found out that he could not play the position well. That’s my issue with the Locker situation. Let’s find out now if he’s going to the QB of the future before three and four years pass by and decide he can’t cut it.
     
    Rodgers is one of the few that sat for a few years and played well immediately but Steve Young already had game experience and Brady was thrown out there in the middle of a season and led the Patriots to a Super Bowl victory. I think Bill Walsh had a bigger impact on Young’s career than sitting behind Montana.
     
    It works both ways but I’d rather find out now if Locker can play then have him sit for years. He can watch as much game film as possible and talk to Hasselbeck every night about football but at some point he’s going to have to do it on the field.
     
    Glad someone feels the same about the team winning a championship. Bring it home NOW!!

  • http://www.justinlstewart.com/ jstitansized

     @eboyd He also struggled in pressure situations, such as when he needed to pass the ball at the end of the Saints game and he couldn’t decide whether to run or throw the ball and ended up getting sacked and losing the game without giving us a real shot. He’s got a lot of potential and I love the guy, but it’s things like that that show how much he still needs to grow.

  • eboyd

     @jstitansized I can live with Locker making that mistake. He had not been in a situation like that and will learn from it. That’s why actual game experience is important for a young player. Those are situations that will help him grow as a QB. You can argue that his play was a huge reason why they even had a shot in that game. Can’t get that kind of experience holding the clipboard.  

  • MLeprae

    The late model Hass is a straight up pocket passer with excellent instincts and presence. With the carefully calibrated offensive line upgrades this offseason he looks like the obvious choice to start 2012. When he looked bad last year you can pin a lot of that on Palmer. Hass made the throws he was asked when he was asked. The Colts game is a great example of him not being asked to do what he was capable of. He made his throws. They were just not well orchestrated, aggressive routes.  It was a bad offensive game plan from a new OC who didn’t have enough job security to go out with a throw-first plan that pushes the QB to star of fail and gets the D back on their heels to open it up for CJ2K to make some big bursts. Hass can still sling it downfield if the line gives him time and the 2012 line will be potential superheroes this year if they can somehow pull off a major upgrade at center. Put a fire under Palmer, let Locker stew another year and go for a deep playoff push with the vet. 

  • MLeprae

    The late model Hass is a straight up pocket passer with excellent instincts and presence. With the carefully calibrated offensive line upgrades this offseason he looks like the obvious choice to start 2012. When he looked bad last year you can pin a lot of that on Palmer. Hass made the throws he was asked when he was asked. The Colts game is a great example of him not being asked to do what he was capable of. He made his throws. They were just not well orchestrated, aggressive routes.  It was a bad offensive game plan from a new OC who didn’t have enough job security to go out with a throw-first plan that pushes the QB to star or fail to get the D back on their heels and open it up for CJ2K to make some big bursts. Hass can still sling it downfield if the line gives him time and the 2012 line will be potential superheroes this year if they can somehow pull off a major upgrade at center. Put a fire under Palmer, let Locker stew another year and go for a deep playoff push with the vet. 

  • MLeprae

    The late model Hass is a straight up pocket passer with excellent instincts and presence. With the carefully calibrated offensive line upgrades this offseason he looks like the obvious choice to start 2012. When he looked bad last year you can pin a lot of that on Palmer. Hass made the throws he was asked when he was asked. The last Colts game is an example of him not being asked to do what he was capable of. He made his throws. They were just not well orchestrated, aggressive routes.  It was a bad offensive game plan from a new OC who didn’t have enough job security to go out with a throw-first plan that pushes the QB to star or fail to get the D back on their heels and open it up for CJ2K to make some big bursts. Hass can still sling it downfield if the line gives him time and the 2012 line will be potential superheroes this year if they can somehow pull off a major upgrade at center. Put a fire under Palmer, let Locker stew another year and go for a deep playoff push with the vet. 

  • DaveEllison

    I’m a lifelong Seahawk fan, and I firmly believe you have grossly misjudged Hasselbeck.  Take into consideration that this was his 4th offensive system in as many years and in those 4 years he has had less than adequate support from the run game.  If you can’t run the football, the defense can key on just the pass game, which puts any QB at an immediate disadvantage.  This was also his first season in a system not based on the West Coast offense EVER, and he still put up a > .500 season.
     
    Hasselbeck still has plenty in the tank and I think it would benefit Locker to sit another season and learn from someone with his ability and experience.  He is a leader, an accurate passer and a competitor.  If you give him the same quality support and stability those QBs in red have had, I think he’s going to get it done.
     
    One last thing… I’m an analyst… I understand stats and number very well and I can tell you that one of the few truths about statistics was best put by Mark Twain when he said “There are three types of lies: Lies,Damned Lies, and Statistics!”  If it were as easy as building a top 5 list, anyone with a 7th grade education could be a GM and there would be 27 starting QBs looking for new jobs this season.