Mike Munchak’s pitch to Matt Hasselbeck was that if the quarterback signed with the Tennessee Titans, he would have time to throw.
At this point, Hasselbeck might be inclined to buy a used car from his coach.
“Any success that we’re having throwing the ball — it needs to be stated and understood and not taken for granted — it’s because the pass protection has been very good,” Hasselbeck said. “If you don’t have that, then you have nothing. You can have all the fancy plays and mismatches and personnel groups, but if you can’t block for it, it’s no good. It’s trash.”
Three weeks into the season, the Titans have had undeniable success throwing the ball.
They enter Sunday’s game at Cleveland (noon, CBS) seventh in the league in passing yards per game and 10th in yards per attempt. They are one of eight teams with at least three completions for 40 yards or more and their completion percentage (69.6) is third best overall.
Most important, their four sacks allowed are second only to New England (three) for the fewest among the top 10 passing teams.
“Only one of them was [the offensive line’s] fault,” Hasselbeck said. “[On the others] it was the running back or the quarterback or somebody else.”
A year ago, that same line — left tackle Michael Roos, left guard Leroy Harris, center Eugene Amano, right guard Jake Scott and right tackle David Stewart — with occasional injury replacements allowed 27 sacks as the Titans switched back and forth between Kerry Collins, Vince Young and even Rusty Smith at quarterback.
Thus far in 2011, Hasselbeck has taken every offensive snap and not a lot of punishment.
“I think he has confidence in what we are doing,” Munchak said. “I think that’s where it starts for a quarterback — understanding that he has protection, to go do the things he wants to do. I think that was something he looked at when he was picking teams to go to.
“I would if I was a quarterback. I would want to know that I had an offensive line that could protect me and he knows from being in the league how important it is to having success.”
That’s why Munchak, the former offensive line coach, called Hasselbeck at the start of free agency and offered him the promise of sound protection.
The quarterback, who has been sacked as many as 42 times in a season during his NFL career, was happy to hear it.
“Here they give [the offensive line] first priority, and it’s not that way most places,” he said. “That’s one of the things that attracted me here. With Munch’s background, he gets it. He understands it and I’ve always had a good relationship with my offensive linemen.
“I really like this group and I’m happy I get to be with these guys. … None of those guys are the same. They’re all very different personalities, different strengths, different weaknesses, but they work together really well and communicate well.”
And they have made sure their coach didn’t end up sounding like a liar.