The Colts Signing Matt Hasselbeck Will Benefit The 'Under-Prepared' Chandler Harnish The Most

Joe Robbins

Hasselbeck could help in the development of Indiana native Chandler Harnish, the "Mr. Irrelevant" pick from the 2012 NFL Draft.

Everyone seems to think that Indianapolis Colts starting quarterback Andrew Luck will benefit the most from the team's signing of veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck, who was recently released by the Tennessee Titans. Yes, it almost goes without saying that Hasselbeck will help Luck, and, in many ways, he is a significant upgrade at his position over Drew Stanton.

Nothing against Stanton, who was an excellent acquisition last year for Colts general manager Ryan Grigson, but he's better suited for the offense Bruce Arians likes to run; a down-the-field, vertical offense looking for big plays in the passing game. Pep Hamilton, the man replacing Arians as the Colts offensive coordinator in 2013, is implementing the West Coast offense in Indianapolis. This means short passes, ball control, move the chains. Matt Hasselbeck has spent much of his 14 years in the NFL in a West Coast system, whether it was in Green Bay backing up Brett Favre, or in Seattle working with then-coach Mike Holmgren.

However, it's not like Andrew Luck has never worked in a West Coast system. He became a master of it at Stanford under Pep Hamilton and David Shaw's guidance. The offensive coordinator job title at Stanford is called "The Andrew Luck Director of Offense" for a reason, kids. Luck knows the West Coast system.

Where Hasselbeck will help Luck is in situational football. Both will be able to bounce ideas off each other in the QB meeting room. Hasselbeck is known to have the kind of detail-exact mind that might rival Peyton Manning's. Luck is a pretty sharp cookie himself. That's a lot of brain power in the Colts QB meeting room.

This brain trust will likely help the Colts win football games, but it could also help in the development of Indiana native and Colts third string QB Chandler Harnish, the "Mr. Irrelevant" pick from the 2012 NFL Draft.

Lots of people just assumed that, with Stanton bolting for Arizona, Harnish would ascend to the role of back-up quarterback in 2013. Sorry, but Bill Polian isn't here anymore, and players like Curtis Painter don't get free rides because of draft stock. Harnish, who is a talented quarterback with a powerful throwing arm, has never worked in a West Coast offense.

He's also, quite simply, not ready to start in a real NFL game.

Recently, Harish admitted to fans at Norwell Football Club banquet in his home town that, during the 2012 season, he felt 'under-prepared':

I definitely [felt] under-prepared. I thought I was preparing a lot, but there were times when I literally had no clue what was going on. I didn't tell anybody because I might get cut. I definitely need to prepare more.

Well, at one point last season, Harnish was cut, but he was quickly re-signed to the Colts practice squad.

Now, he has to re-learn an entirely new offense that is different than the Arians system he was "under-prepared" for last season. An offense that both Andrew Luck and Matt Hasselbeck can probably recite in ancient Greek. Luck doesn't have time to teach a peer like Harnish the ins-and-outs of the West Coast system. The 37-year-old Hasselbeck does.

If I'm Harnish, I'm doing two things this off-season:

1) Keeping my big mouth shut and not admitting at any future banquets or fan gatherings that I didn't prepare enough to play quarterback in an emergency situation, and

2) I'm sticking to Matt Hasselbeck like glue.

I'm following him around. I'm fetching his coffee. I'm asking him questions. I'm calling him at 2:00 AM and asking his opinion on motion concepts. I'm watching him at OTA practice, in the meeting room, in the cafeteria.

If I were Harnish, I'd practically STALK Hasselbeck!

In the end goal is for Harnish to be just as capable of running the system, and making plays within it, as anyone else who is learning it for the first time. No one excepts Harnish to become a master, ala Luck. However, if Harnish wants to stay employed with the Colts, he's got to prove that, one a base level, he can run this offense.

Personally, I'm rooting for him. He seems like a good guy, and he has a ton of potential. He's also personable and engaging. If he's smart, he'll seek out Hasselbeck and use him as a resource of knowledge. In the end, it will make Harnish better, which is what we all want.

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