Hawks’ goal: Start Hasselbeck off with better field position

  • Scott M. Johnson / Herald Writer
  • Friday, November 2, 2001 9:00pm
  • Sports

By Scott M. Johnson

Herald Writer

KIRKLAND – How about this for an exciting start to Sunday’s Seattle Seahawks game?

The Seahawks win the coin toss, elect to receive, and come up with a touchback to start the game. Talk about a shift in momentum!

OK, so it’s not the most exciting scenario to open a game. But the way things have gone for the Seahawks with Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback this season, starting the opening drive at their own 20-yard line would be quite a refreshing change.

In each of Hasselbeck’s three starts this season, the Seahawks have started their opening possession inside their own 10. Their average starting point has been at the 5-yard line, which doesn’t exactly make things easy for the offense.

While coach Mike Holmgren still scripts the first 15 plays of a game, he said that field position in each of Hasselbeck’s starts has forced him to alter his plans.

“The plays we select in the first 15, we’re hoping for normal field position,” Holmgren said. “It doesn’t have to be great, but we can’t be down inside (the 10-yard line).”

During his three starts at quarterback, Trent Dilfer has had much better luck. His average first possession started at the 23, and two of those drives resulted in touchdowns.

Hasselbeck has yet to lead the team to a touchdown on its opening drive, but he put together an impressive drive last week. The Seahawks went on a nine-play drive all the way down to the Miami Dolphins’ 17-yard line before kicker Rian Lindell missed a field goal.

Brothers in arms: Two players eager to meet up again Sunday are Dilfer and Washington’s Tony Banks, who were both quarterbacks with the Baltimore Ravens last season.

Although some people assumed a quarterback controversy may have soured their relationship, both Dilfer and Banks say the polar opposite is true.

“I had the most fun of my career because me, Trent and (third-stringer) Chris Redman got along so well,” Banks said. “When I was the starter, Trent was a great backup for me. He helped me immensely when it came to breaking down film, making sure I didn’t have this long list of stuff. The only thing I regret is that I wasn’t as good a backup as he was. I was a little bitter toward the situation, not toward him, just the situation.”

Banks was benched in favor of Dilfer nine games into last season because the Ravens’ offense was struggling. As most football fans might have heard by now, Dilfer won nine of 10 starts on the way to a Super Bowl victory.

“I think most quarterback controversies are controversies because the quarterbacks aren’t men enough to stand up and handle it the best way for their football team,” Dilfer said. “You’ve got to be a man, and you’ve got to stand up and handle things that you don’t necessarily like in the right way. Tony was able to do that, and I really appreciated it.”

Homecoming: Nine years later, Shawn Springs still holds a grudge.

So when the Seahawks’ cornerback makes his return trip to the Washington, D.C., area this weekend – the first time he’s been back for a game since his days at Springbrook High School in Silver Spring, Md. – he’ll be looking to make a statement.

Despite being an All-America high school player in 1992, Springs said he was not even added to the Washington Post’s all-metropolitan team.

“Now every time I see the Washington Post, I say, I’ve got to play well just so I can show the Washington Post they were wrong,” Springs said earlier this week.

Springs added that he bought about 40 tickets for the game for his friends and family.

“I’m going home,” he said. “I’m going to need to take some Valium so I can calm down.”

Quick slants: Although safety Marcus Robertson is listed as questionable on the team’s injury report, Holmgren said Friday that he is “doubtful” Robertson will be able to play. Former Canadian Football League star Maurice Kelly started last week while Robertson sat out with a hamstring injury. … Kick returner Charlie Rogers is also listed as questionable because of a toe injury. He didn’t practice Friday, and could be replaced by James Williams on kickoffs and Bobby Engram on punts. … It appears the Redskins will have starting cornerback Fred Smoot in the lineup, despite the fact that he is listed as questionable due to a knee injury. Smoot practiced Thursday. His backup is 41-year-old future Hall of Famer Darrell Green.

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