At 36-years-old last year, Matt Hasselbeck showed that he still has a little bit of life left in his right arm. Emphasis on a little bit. The veteran signal called helped lead the Titans to a 9-7 record despite dealing with some injuries of his own and some other injury issues that surrounded the team. By all standards, it was a good year for the trusty vet. However, as training camp has opened up in Tennessee, Hasselbeck finds himself in a training camp battle against last year’s top ten pick, Jake Locker. Locker is tremendously gifted, he possesses a big arm and showed flashes last year when his number was called. With Kenny Britt returning from injury, Chris Johnson having a full offseason and the addition of Kendall Wright in the draft, the weapons are in place for the Titans to take the next step no matter who ends up winning the QB competition.
Matt Hasselbeck joined WGFX in Nashville with 3HL to talk about how much easier year two is for him than his first season in Tennessee, how it hurts the team missing Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright, if he feels like, as a veteran, he needs to talk to Kenny Britt about his off-the-field troubles, if he thinks the Titans have the components to make a deep playoff run like the Giants did last season and what he thinks of the QB competition.
How tough it would’ve been for him to not find a home last offseason as a starting quarterback:
“I’ve been through much tougher things in my life so that would not have been the end of the world. It would’ve been part of my journey, wherever that is and just try to do the best that I can wherever I’m at and whatever opportunities I’ve been given. This last year I was given an opportunity I never thought I would have. Going to a different team, getting to start on a team with a brand new coaching staff, a young group of guys, learning under some of the starters and some young guys that actually get to start for us, it’s just a very different experience but it was one that I really enjoyed. I feel like it was a good thing building a good foundation for this organization for the future.”
How much more comfortable he is in his second season with the Titans:
“It’s kind of like we got a new set of golf clubs or something and we’re just trying out each club. It’s sort of the part of the offseason, even though we are in training camp and getting ready, we’re definitely trying new stuff. We’re trying packages with three tight ends, no huddle and all these different things and new concepts that we have never run that this coaching staff has run different places that they were and we’re trying to add to what we did last year. There’s some things that I’m very comfortable with right now and there’s other things that we’re still learning that’s brand new to all of us. Our fourth quarterback, Nick Stephens, he will ask us questions ‘hey how do you guys read this if they do that’ and the three of us look at each other and they’re like ‘we don’t know, ask one of the coaches.’ So we’re learning but I think the biggest thing is all the coaches know each other more, they’ve been together, they’ve been through the fire and the players, most of us too.”
On missing Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright:
“It’s not ideal. It’s not an ideal situation but it wasn’t an ideal situation last year when Kenny Britt got hurt and we lost him for the year, especially when our whole passing game was sort of based around him. We had to readjust that so now I think we’re giving our tight ends more opportunities, Jared Cook and Taylor Thompson, we’re giving them opportunities to see what they can do and obviously Nate Washington was a big player for us last year and giving him opportunities. It’s really a chance for all these guys that some people wrote off back after the draft to show what they can do.”
If he feels like, as a veteran, he needs to have a talk with Kenny Britt because of his off-the-field issues:
“I know that he knows what’s important. He’s had some issues that have been pretty public. For us, we’re not looking for him to just take care of himself, our expectations are way higher than that and we’re looking for him to be a leader in that room and a leader on this team so right now we’re not really close to that point but there’s an opportunity for him to be that guy eventually but like I said the other day you only get so many chances and so my hope is that he figures that out really quick and like you said he’s a great person to be around and he’s so much fun and he’s got leadership qualities that are just innate in him and obviously he’s a great player. For him I think it’s just going to start with being healthy and then obviously there are some other things too. He’s a great person and I’m glad he’s here.”
Whether he thinks the Titans have a team capable of going on a postseason run like the Giants did a season ago:
“Without a doubt. There’s absolutely no doubt. There’s definitely talent and you have to get lucky a little bit, you have to stay healthy and you have to play well. Your best players have to play the best that they’ve ever played and then your guys that you’re counting on to step up have to do the best that they’ve done and you have to win some close games. I’ve been on a few teams, probably three or four and really woulda, coulda, shoulda but this team has the makings of it. It’s not going to be easy and we’re going to have to get it done but we definitely could.”
On his approach to the QB competition:
“Just try to be better. I don’t really do anything different, it’s actually been a little bit energizing for me to be honest. I think it’s a healthy thing having competition within the room in all areas. Rusty Smith ironically kind of has us on the chalkboard, he’s the protections guru so I think just the group competing with each other and these guys are young guys and it’s fun. I know I’m not going to play forever, that’s not my goal. But my goal right now is to be the best that I can be and try to help this team again win the Super Bowl, win this division and accomplishments that are very hard to do but they are attainable. I just let the coaches do their thing in terms of picking who they want in there.”