There might have been a price on his head — so to speak — but Matt Hasselbeck’s eyes were not on approaching defenders when he faced the New Orleans Saints in a playoff game following the 2010 season.
“You're so focused on what your doing, you're so focused on coverages and tendencies,” Hasselbeck said Wednesday. “When I used to coach a kids' high school football camp I used to tell the quarterbacks' the moment you look at the rush you're lost. It's true at this level. It's true at that level.
“You have to be so focused in on what you're doing down the field and hope the guys in front of you do their job.”
The NFL made public earlier this week some of the evidence used to suspend a number Saints players, coaches and officials.
Among the items was a slide that showed Hasselbeck, then the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, and teammates Marshawn Lynch, a runniner back, and wide receiver Mike Williams. Along with those images was the following passage: "Now it's time to do our job. Collect bounty $$$!. No apologies. Let's go hunting.”
Hasselbeck had little comment on the report or on the status of the appeal by Saints’ players as the Titans neared the end of their offseason program. Wednesday’s workout was the next-to-last of the three day minicamp, which concludes Thursday. After that, players are on their own until the start of training camp.
“I'm not following it closely but what I heard was it was the quarterback, running back and top receiver,” he said. “Those are the names you expect.
“I've been going about my thing and I don't really know what to say.”
Hasselbeck completed 22 of 35 passes for 272 yards with four touchdowns and one interception that day as the Seahawks knocked off the defending Super Bowl champions 41-36. Lynch rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown, and Williams caught five passes for 68 yards and a touchdown.
He faced the Saints again last season with Tennessee but was injured early — without contact — and attempted just seven passes in a 22-17 defeat.
“My focus was on finding to pick on them in terms of educated guessing — I think they do a really nice job of educated guessing for blitzes,” Hasselbeck said. “They're very well-coached. … We needed to find ways to take advantage of the aggressive plays they like to make.”
In his experience, Hasselbeck expressed no sense that the Saints, or any comparable opponents, were out to harm him.
“It's an aggressive style of defense and they're known for their exotic blitz packages and getting hits on the quarterback,” he said. “I think every time you play those guys that's what you expect. When [defensive coordinator Gregg Williams] was in Washington it was the same kind of thing.
“They were a tough team to prepare for.”