Seahawks QB comparisons: Wilson vs. Hasselbeck vs. Jackson

From Hasselbeck to Jackson, now Wilson

After the Seattle Seahawks signed Matt Flynn this off season, one of my readers (Todd) asked me if I would compare Flynn’s first 8 games as a starter to that of Matt Hasselbeck’s and Tarvaris Jackson‘s.  He wanted to see how the new quarterback stacked up to those two, since they were the most recent Seahawks starters.

I agreed to write it if he would remind me after the 8th game of the season.

After Russell Wilson was named the starter, Todd asked me if I would be willing to write the piece on Russell Wilson, instead of Flynn.

All three quarterbacks became starters in vastly different ways.  Matt Hasselbeck spent his first two seasons backing up future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre before being acquired by Seattle, via trade.  Matt was named the starting quarterback of the 2001 Seattle Seahawks.

Tarvaris Jackson started for the first time on week 16, the Vikings 15th game of the season,  after spending most of the season backing up Brad Johnson.

Russell Wilson was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft by the Seattle Seahawks.  Most people, including myself, expected Wilson to spend his first season backing up Matt Flynn, unless Flynn fell flat on his face, or was injured.

Instead, Wilson won the job in training camp. Flynn didn’t lose it. RW did enough to impress Pete Carroll and beat out Flynn to become the starter at the beginning of the season.

Start 1

Matt beat the 10th best passing defense, Tarvaris lost to the leagues 17th ranked passing defense, and Russell lost to the leagues 4th best passing defense.

Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft

Jackson had the roughest outing, managing only 50 yard on 20 pass attempts.  Ironically, Hasselbeck and Wilson each had 34 attempts in their 1st game.  Matt had two more completions for 15 more yards but unlike Russell, he was unable to find the end zone.


Start 2

All three quarterbacks faced top 10 defenses in their second start.  Russell Wilson was the only one of the three who was victorious.

Jackson’s 213-yards were the only time he surpassed the 200-yards mark during his first 8 starts.

It was Matt Hasselbeck’s worst game in his first 8 starts.

Russell Wilson didn’t do anything spectacular.  He just played extremely efficient football, completing 75% of his passes and ending up with a 112.7 passer rating.


Start 3

For the third straight week Matt Hasselbeck faced a top 10 passing defense, but Jackson and Wilson got a bit of a break.  Tarvaris faced the 23rd ranked Falcons while Russell faced the 19th ranked Packers.

Hasselbeck was the only quarterback to lose his third start, but he did throw for the most yards.  Matt injured his groin during the game and was replaced by Trent Dilfer for the next 2 games.

For Jackson, it was week 1 of his second season with the Vikings.  Jackson had a mediocre day against a pretty bad defense.

Wilson was the only quarterback of the group to finish his third game without an interception, and his 2 touchdowns led the group.  Despite throwing for 37 yards less than Matt, Russell actually averaged 0.2 yards more an attempt.


Start 4

Hasselbeck returned after the Seahawks bye week and had his best start of the season.  Impressively, it was against the leagues number 1 ranked passing defense. Matt’s 4th start was the only time that he threw for over 200-yards during his first 8 starts.

Jackson completed 21 passes in his 4th start.  Unfortunately 4 of those completions were to the 31st passing defense in the league.

Wilson also had a tendency to find the opposition in his 4th start, throwing 3 interceptions of his own.


Start 5

Russell Wilson hit the 200-yard mark for the first time in his career.  His 76% completion rate is his best to date.

Matt Hasselbeck had his second worst start, managing only 127-yards and a couple interceptions.

Tarvaris Jackson Faced the 27th ranked Chicago Bears.  He only completed 39.1% of his passes,  but was the only one of the three quarterbacks who didn’t throw an interception in his 5th start.


Start 6

Hasselbeck and Wilson had great games in their 6th start, Jackson, not so much.

Wilson’s three touchdown was the only time the quarterbacks threw that many.  His 133.7 passer rating also was a first 8 game best.

Hasselbeck & Dilfer

There was a lot more knowledge to draw from in the QB meeting room for Matt than Russell Wilson has…

Hasselbeck had a his second best start, managing a 103.7 passer rating of his own.

For the second time in six games Jackson threw for under 75-yards.


Start 7

Russell didn’t get any help from his receivers on his way to his worst start of the season so far.  It was the only time he has completed less than 10 passes.  Matt accomplished the feat twice while Tarvaris did it three times.

For the second week in a row, Jackson only completed 6 passes, and his 63 yards was lower than Matt’s completion percentage.

Matt had a very similar game to that of Wilson’s start against the Rams this season.  The difference was that Hasselbeck didn’t throw three interceptions, and he had a touchdown.


Start 8

For the 3rd game in his last 4, Russell Wilson threw for over 200-yards.  Matt Hasselbeck and Tarvaris Jackson only threw over 200-yards twice, combined. It was also Wilson’s third multiple touchdown game, Hasselbeck did that once, Jackson never did.

Matt had his third consecutive game without throwing an interception.  It was also his third consecutive game with a passer rating over 90.

I would have to say that Jackson’s 8th start was his best.  Out of the three quarterbacks’ first 8 games it was the highest completion rate, unfortunately for him, the other two quarterbacks were better all around in their 8th start.



  • Record: Wilson, Jackson (4-4)
  • Completions: Wilson (129)
  • Attempts: Wilson (210)
  • Completion percentage: Wilson (61.4%)
  • Yards: Wilson (1,466)
  • Yards per attempt: Wilson (7.0)
  • Yards per completion: Wilson (11.4)
  • Touchdowns: Wilson (10)
  • Touchdowns per attempt: Wilson (4.7%)
  • Interceptions: Hasselbeck (5
  • Passes per interception: Hasselbeck (39.6)
  • Passer rating: Wilson (82.4)

My Take

Matt spent 2 years learning the NFL game from watching a quarterback who has thrown for more yards, and more touchdown than anyone in the history of the NFL.  Russell Wilson was thrown into the fire from week 1.

Matt’s backup during his first year as a starter, Trent Dilfer who was coming off of a Super Bowl victory.  Wilson’s backup, Matt Flynn who has two career starts.

There was a lot more knowledge to draw from in the quarterback meeting room for Matt than Wilson is afforded.

Before you say, “Wilson has Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks running game taking pressure off of him,” let me remind you that the 2001 Seattle Seahawks had the 9th best rushing attack in the NFL.

The 2012 Seahawks are ranked 8th.

Before you say, “But they are wasting this defense.” This years defense isn’t a whole lot better than the 2001 Seahawks either.  The 2012 Seahawks defense allows 13 less yards a game, are on pace to have the same amount of interception, 10 less forced fumbles, 5 less fumble recoveries and 4 more sacks.

Wilson has the 53rd ranked Sidney Rice, and 90th ranked Golden Tate at wide receiver.  Hasselbeck had 1,000-yard, 24th ranked, receiver Darryl Jackson, and 57th ranked Koren Robinson.

8 games are not nearly enough to decide if a quarterback is going to be good or not.  That said, Russell Wilson is off to a great start.  Wilson has already thrown more touchdowns than Hasselbeck did during his first season as a starter.

I am not saying Russell Wilson will have the type of career that Matt had in Seattle, but the next time you think to yourself “Russell isn’t working out,”  realize that he has been better in almost every category than Matt was through 8 starts.

Matt Hasselbeck turned into arguably the best quarterback the Seahawks have ever had.  He was definitely the only quarterback who has ever led the team to a Super Bowl.

I would have to say that Wilson has done a pretty good job so far.  Let’s hope it continues.

Like it or not, Wilson will be the starter all season, barring an injury.


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About Brett Bivens

Born and raised in Spokane. Moved to Seattle in 2006. A Seahawks fan since he can remember, Seahawks season ticket holder for 5 years!. He blogs, tweets and bleeds blue and green. 12th Man For Life! Connect with Brett today!
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