Matt Hasselbeck was already at Baptist Sports Park this week preparing himself for next season.
The Titans’ quarterback took a week off after his team’s season ended with a 23-22 victory at Houston on New Year’s Day. That win put the Titans at 9-7 on the season, but narrowly left them short of the playoffs.
After the Jets had lost at Miami and Cincinnati later fell at home to Baltimore, the Titans needed victories by Denver and Oakland in the afternoon games to make the playoffs.
The drama unfolded on the plane ride back to Nashville, and Hasselbeck recalled that experience during an interview on the debut show of 104.5 the Zone’s ‘The Midday 180′ earlier this week. You can listen to the entire interview right here.
“I think we were really in shock,” Hasselbeck said. “We won the game in Houston and knew the Jets had lost. Cincy had lost, so we were kind of feeling like all we need is the Raiders and Denver to win.
“The Denver game was going on at the time, and seriously, the whole plane was rooting for Denver. We had Tebo chants going and everything. It was hilarious,” Hasselbeck said. “The game ended, I think they had a fourth down and didn’t convert and it was like, ‘Wow,’ I don’t know if it really sunk in.”
Just like that, the Titans’ season was over.
“The next day we had exit physicals and exit meetings. By the time I got done meeting with my coaches I had to see, pretty much all of my teammates had already left. I think it was just being in shock a little bit. But if you sit back and evaluate the season I think it is good that we were able to end it on a high note in terms of playing decent football at the end of the year, getting better, not getting worse. For whatever reason, winning that last game does make a little bit of an impact in your offseason, how guys feel and kind of the fire that burns inside to take the next step.”
Hasselbeck will use the disappointment of not making the playoffs as motivation this off-season.
“I really wanted to win the division,” he said. “I expected that was something we could get done, especially with Indy’s situation with Peyton (Manning) being out. I thought there was a real opportunity there, but we weren’t able to do it. We weren’t able to take it from the Texans. That’s probably the disappointing thing for me is that I really expected that we would be in the hunt for that.”
The Titans don’t want to require help next season, Hasselbeck said.
“You can look back at the games and we’ll look back and analyze it if we had done this or done that, but the bottom line is we didn’t get it done,” he said. “You really just get 16 chances to do it. We were banking on some help. We were banking on the Jets, the Raiders or the Broncos to win in that last week of games and that didn’t happen, so we didn’t get a chance to go back down there and play the Texans.”
Hasselbeck isn’t waiting for the official start of the offseason program to begin preparing himself for 2012.
“I went in there today and started working out for next year — nothing crazy — but our offseason program starts April 16 and that’s not when you start to get into shape. That’s when the whistle blows and Steve Watterson, the strength coach, expects us to be ready…we’re going to get after it.”
Hasselbeck said Watterson put everyone on notice.
“Basically he said, ‘Listen, when you come back on April 16th, you’ve got to be ready to go. It’s not like on April 16th you come in to get ready to get in shape, you’re in shape on April 16 and we’re going to hit the ground running.”
He believes the future of the franchise looks bright.
“I think if you’re in charge of running a team, you’ve got to feel pretty good about the direction of the Tennessee Titans,” Hasselbeck said. “You’ve got to feel good about some of the young players, the depth, and really just the direction — who’s steering the ship and all that kind of stuff. A lot of times if you have a solid foundation it just sets the table for success in the future.”
Tags: hasselbeck, Watterson
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Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck arguably is off to the best start of his 13-year career. He has completed 78 of 112 passes (69.6 percent) for 932 yards, five touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 102.2
Hasselbeck has passed for more than 300 yards in the last two games (358 vs. Baltimore, 311 vs. Denver). Prior to this season, he had never reached the 300-yard mark in any game in Weeks 1-3.
With 300 passing yards Sunday at Cleveland, it would mark the first time in Hasselbeck’s career that he reached 300 yards in three consecutive games. It would also tie for the second-longest streak in franchise history, trailing only Warren Moon’s four-game 300-yard streak in 1990.
Hasselbeck’s 932 passing yards rank third in franchise history through the first three games of a season, behind only Moon’s 989 yards in 1990 and 970 yards in 1992.
Hasselbeck already is within 55 passing yards of having one of the top five starts to a season in franchise history. With a 214-yard performance on Sunday, he would rank second over the first four games, trailing only Moon in 1990 (1,344).
Pro Football Talk pointed out this week that league-wide, there have been 33 300-yard passing performances through the first three weeks of the season, shattering the old mark of 21.
Through the first three games, nine quarterbacks are averaging more than 300 yards passing, including Hasselbeck. The other eight are Patriots QB Tom Brady, Saints QB Drew Brees, Panthers QB Cam Newton, Chargers QB Phillip Rivers, Lions QB Matthew Stafford, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, Cowboys QB Tony Romo and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers.
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Matt Hasselbeck was great in two playoff games for Seattle. Since joining the Titans, Hasselbeck has put up excellent numbers for the Titans in three regular season games. 2011 agrees with Hasselbeck. In five games during this calendar year (counting the January playoff games), Hasselbeck has hit on 65% of his passes (126-193) for 1462 yards with 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions. His passer rating in the five games is 102.3. Another key stat: Hasselbeck has only been sacked seven times in the five games played in 2011.
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Matt Hasselbeck is a finalist for the FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week. Fans can vote now through 2 p.m. CT on Friday. Hasselbeck completed 27-of-36 passes for 311 yards and 2 TDs (119.1 passer rating), tossing the go-ahead TD pass to Daniel Graham late in the fourth quarter. The Titans held on to defeat the Denver Broncos 17-14, moving into a first-place tie in the AFC South at 2-1.
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