By Brent Stecker
Matt Hasselbeck was in Seattle for the beginning of the Pete Carroll era four years ago, serving as the starting quarterback for most of his first season at the helm. So with the Seahawks' Super Bowl clash with the Broncos just days away, Hasselbeck is one person who especially knows just how far the Seahawks have come.
Former Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck said coach Pete Carroll was convincing from his first season that his goal was to win in Seattle, even through a rebuilding period. (AP)
Hasselbeck, who was a backup for the Colts in 2013, told 710 ESPN Seattle's "Brock and Danny" Monday that even as the Seahawks were rebuilding early in Carroll's tenure, winning was always the priority for the former USC mentor.
"It really is exactly what (Carroll) said he wanted and how he wanted to do it," Hasselbeck said of the Seahawks' run of success. "The thing that I appreciated that he always said, or at least said to me and I believed him, was that he wanted to win the whole time."
That optimism was maintained even when the Seahawks lost or cut several key players before the 2010 season started.
"Even that first year ... I had this look on my face like, 'Oh, dude, you're just rebuilding and you're not trying to win right now.' (Carroll) was very convincing, like, 'No, I'm always trying to win. I'm always competing. I'm always trying to win. I'm always trying to get better,'" Hasselbeck said. "I've really appreciated that as he was building his program, he was still trying to win. ... They've done a great job. He really could not have scripted it better."
Now that the Seahawks are a win away from a championship, they're facing down Denver's all-time great quarterback Peyton Manning, whose penchant for changing things at the line is well-known. Hasselbeck doesn't expect to see too many instances of Manning yelling "Omaha" on Sunday, however, because of Seattle's simple approach to defense.
"I think people want to talk about, 'Oh, Peyton Manning at the line of scrimmage.' Well, there's nothing for Peyton to do at the line of scrimmage. The Seahawks aren't tricking anybody," he said. "You know exactly the two coverages they're gonna play the whole day. They're kinda basically Pete's mantra of like, 'Hey, we don't care about the opponent. It's all about us.' ... They line up, they play Cover 1, (or) they play Cover 3."
Instead, Hasselbeck believes Manning will spend his time trying to pinpoint what players in the Seahawks' secondary he can exploit rather than trying to make changes on the fly.
"The thing that Peyton will study is the matchups. There is a matchup differential from (cornerbacks Byron) Maxwell to (Richard) Sherman to (Walter) Thurmond. (And) obviously the safeties are very good, but they're different kind of guys. But it's not about coverage," Hasselbeck said. "It's gonna be the same. He can do that (yell at the line) as many times as he wants to do it. It's gonna be the same (play)."