BY Doug Farrar 03:36PM 12/31/2010

Hasselbeck’s ‘questionable’ status appropriate

Charlie or Matt? At this point, the game against the Rams — and any hope of a division title — may rest on that decision.

Matt Hasselbeck and Pete Carroll share a laugh during practice on Friday, December 31 (Rod Mar/Seattle Seahawks)

That quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report after getting practice reps in for the first time this week felt like par for the course – all season long, the Seahawks — and Hasselbeck’s performances – have leaned in the direction of the unanswered question.

Backup Charlie Whitehurst, himself a figure inspiring some trepidation among the Seahawks faithful these days, took his share of practice snaps after bring labeled “the guy” by head coach Pete Carroll all week. It was thought that the hip injury suffered in the first quarter of Seattle’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday would make Whitehurst the de facto starter for the all-or-nothing regular season finale against the St. Louis Rams, but Carroll held out hope most days this week that Hasselbeck would do everything possible to get back to good health.

Hasselbeck did more than Carroll expected in practice, showing no sign of injury in his walk or pocket movement, but the coach later said that at this point, Whitehurst is still his guy.

“Yeah, Charlie’s going,” Carroll said. “We’ve been committed to that. That’s what we can count on and that’s what we know. Charlie had a good, solid week. He did everything that we needed him to do. So he’s ready for the game plan. We got limited work from Matt … he’s (Hasselbeck) out there getting a little bit of work, seeing what he can do, seeing where he is right now.”

“We’ll go to game time and see what happens.”

Neither quarterback has played all that impressively this season outside of fits and starts of atypical production against superior NFC South opponents. Hasselbeck’s best game was most likely against the New Orleans Saints, and Whitehurst was decent in a garbage-time drive against the Atlanta Falcons. Outside of those shining moments, the quarterback position has been a fairly glaring issue – Hasselbeck currently ranks 34th in Football Outsiders’ cumulative opponent-adjusted efficiency metrics, and Whitehurst sits at the statistical kiddie table alongside fellow NFL backups Rex Grossman and Brodie Croyle. Any hope of taking the Rams’ surprising defense this Sunday will require one quarterback or the other to find some way to muster up reasonably consistent production.

“Charlie did very well,” Carroll said of Whitehurst’s practice week. “We’ve done a lot of good stuff with him. We’ve looked to him in tailoring the plan, the things that he loves to do and the things that he’s really confident at – as you do any week with your starter – but this is the second time we’ve had a chance to do this, with a lot more information than we’ve had before. So it’s Charlie’s second start in his lifetime of the NFL. We have to keep that in mind that we have to take care of him and make sure he can play a game that he’s really in command of – by the way we call it and direct it and all that. So that’s been the (focus) throughout the week, and he’s very much in command of what we’re doing.”

Whitehurst’s first NFL start came against the New York Giants in Week 9, a 41-7 loss in which he completed just 12 passes in 23 attempts for 113 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo, who ran the Giants’ defense primarily responsible for the franchise’s Super Bowl XLII victory, will throw a similar set of schemes that Whitehurst saw against the G-men. The hope, of course, is that Whitehurst learned enough from that experience for a turnaround. Based on the on-field results to date, optimism takes a bit of effort.

Carroll was more concerned today about avoiding the debacle his team suffered in Week 3, when these same Rams beat them, 20-3, at the Edward Jones Dome.

“They’re better, they’re an improved team,” Carroll said of the Rams. “The quarterback (Sam Bradford) – imagine now at this point he’s started (all season). That’s got to help them; they know what they have in him. He’s had a very good year. So they come in roaring, I think. For us, we have to do the things right that we need to do in a game like this. We have to take care of the football, we have to not hurt ourselves and play a good, solid football game and make them beat us here at Qwest, and play well enough so that’s the case. So that’s what we’ve set out to do – to play a very strong football game in a style that gives you a chance.”

So, are the Seahawks playing rope-a-dope with this injury report? Will Hasselbeck appear like Lazarus (or, to give a far more annoying example, Brett Favre) just in time to save the day” Carroll didn’t sound too sure.

“No, it’s not that simple. Charlie’s ready to go. And in my mind that’s how we go until we know otherwise or we have more information – we don’t have enough right now. This is just the first step to figuring out how Matt can handle the physical stuff. So I don’t want us to be distracted by that. Matt, he’s diligently going about preparing to play, and that’s exactly what we need him to do. And if it’s possible he’s going to will it to happen and he’s ready to play on game day, we’ll find out. I’m rooting for him just because we’d love to have him be with us and be an active part of this game.

“So we’ll see what happens.”

The smart money is on at least a cameo appearance from the veteran – this game, played for the division as it is, is too important for anything to be left out of the plan.


  • Strump Malone

    Play Whitehurst. It’s a win/win situation. If he has a bad game, we lose and get a high draft pick. If he has a good game and wins, we go to the playoffs, and he has an opportunity to show what he can do as a starting QB.

  • ROG

    Could Charlie please demonstrate why he was worth a 3rd round pick?

    • Steve Pitell

      Is that all we gave for Charlie? Seems cheap to me. Compare him to what you can get with a third round draft pick this year. Someone like Kappernic (sp?) of Nevada – who is my pick for a sleeper this draft from the QB position, but still…who knows if he can even make the team versus undrafted QB’s who will be invited to camp? Charlie has great legs…or good ones, anyway, and a very strong arm. All he needs is to learn from experience. Mature. Or not. He won what was essentially a playoff game with a disaster free performance. He wasn’t great, but showed improvement. Check out his ratings for every performance this year. It shows improvement each and every game he played in. Now look at Hasselbeck’s ratings. Up and down with a few extra doses of down.

      While I am writing…. I wish SPNW would offer a FORUM similar to the P-I’s Seahawk Forum. My “account is banned” there for the reason that I attempted to register and some glitch occurred, and there seems to be no humans which can be reached at the P-I to correct the problem. I have emailed twice over the course of a month, and left a message with their IT guy who doesn’t answer his phone. If you call the reception desk you get a recording. If you call any of their numbers you get voice mail. Here, there seems to be a moderator and emails get read. Though the comments section rarely get any reaction by their respective hosts. The “feel” I get here is of a print wannabe organization forced onto the web, but with very little experience as web users themselves. Since I am over 40, if I was a sports writer I suppose I would still cling to the hope for a resurrection of print journalism, but it ain’t gonna happen and you guys would be well advised to embrace this medium and become more blog like. More interaction between yourselves and your readers. More reliance on such things as FORUMS for free content. Offer a permanent guest opinion pieces page is an idea. Ask for submissions for such a page and all you have to do is select the best for publication. You guys may not realize it, but there is a wealth of good writers with fresh ideas out here in cyberland, and your current system does NOT capitalize on it very well. For what it’s worth….