It Takes Two, Baby

Defensive backs take part of their traditional pregame huddle before taking the field for warmups.

Liz Mathews has gone from someone I knew nothing about to one my favorite Seattle sports Twitter personalities in a scant few months. Mathews captured my feelings about the game against the Rams and my thoughts on the teeth-grinding, wannabe QB controversy brewing with this Tweet yesterday:

@lizmathews12: The worst thing about this loss is having to listen to people’s Charlie Whitehurst babble for two straight weeks.

Nobody needs to make the case that Matt is playing poorly, or that the offense is a mess. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. There is no need to reiterate that Matt’s on the last year of his deal, or that Whitehurst was acquired by the new regime at considerable cost. Everyone Seahawks fan and media member (except Liz!) have been parroting the same schlock today.

There are a few parts of this story that are under-served, but thankfully appear to be grasped completely by the guy that counts, Pete Carroll. First, there is a fundamental misperception that Whitehurst is the QB of the future. He may be the QB of the next 2-5 years, but nobody becomes a franchise QB at the age of 28, especially a guy that’s been 3rd string his whole career. Matt and Charlie are in competition to see who can be the bridge to the franchise QB we have not yet acquired. If Matt continues to play at a sub-80 QB rating for the rest of this season, Charlie will have a great chance to be next year’s starter. A strong end to this season could easily result in a two-year contract for Hasselbeck to return. In either case, the winner will be warming the seat.

Let’s play out the Charlie Whitehurst fantasy for a moment. The team would need to either play below .500 ball, or be strong enough in other areas that a case could be made that the QB is holding the team back. It would be a minimum of 3-4 more games before we got to that point. The door on a Hasselbeck return would close, leaving the Seahawks with a single QB heading into the off-season. The team’s record would have to be bad in order to get Whitehurst the chance in the first place, leading to a higher draft position with numerous franchise-level QB prospects likely available. Do you think the front office would throw all of its faith in Whitehurst and sign a veteran backup? Unlikely.

Look back over the past decade of Seahawks football and you will see a constant state of at least two viable QB candidates until we settled on our franchise QB. We’ve seen Kitna/Huard, and Dilfer/Huard/Hasselbeck. The question is not when the Whitehurst era starts. The question is when the franchise QB is acquired. My hopes are pinned to the upcoming draft.

The second critical under-served story is that Whitehurst is NOT GOOD ENOUGH YET. He had a fantastic debut in pre-season game one, but was anything but in his games after. Hasselbeck’s decision-making has been poor thus far in 2010. Whitehurst’s decision-making in pre-season was worse than poor. His interceptions were head-slappers, and that’s against pre-season talent and game plans. His presence in the pocket was equally concerning. He had the heart of a kitten when facing pressure, often throwing fadeaway passes off his back foot. He even had trouble making basic swing passes to his check-down receivers. None of these things mean Whitehurst can’t be a solid starter for us. They do mean he will struggle mightily when he gets into the lineup and needs as much preparation as possible to be ready. His best this year will be only a little better than Matt’s current performance, and we won’t get his best each week. After a full off-season of preparation, that will hopefully change.

I would love to be able to say we have Matt’s successor waiting in the wings. As big a fan as I am of Hasselbeck, I am a far bigger fan of winning. Whitehurst playing this year has nothing to do with winning, and would close the door on the best quarterback in franchise history. Decisions like that are not made off of four games. Focus must continue to be on setting the Seahawks up to have the best two QB options for next season without giving up on this one.

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