BY Art Thiel 07:00AM 10/11/2011

Thiel: Bye lets Seahawks pass on controversy

Whitehurst’s second-half competence in the upset win over the Giants underscores Carroll’s belief that a team can win with decent, not spectacular, QB play.

Charlie Whitehurst's game management in the second half proved Pete Carroll's faith in him. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Response by some to the first appearance of quarterback Charlie Whitehurst in a regular-season game is similar to other bird-watchers glimpsing their first blue-footed booby.

The oddness is compelling, the imagination is stimulated and the mystery deepens.

How much ball can a Whitehurst chuck if Chuck Whitehurst could chuck ball?

Chuck chucked fairly well Sunday in New York. Operating in abrupt, hostile conditions, Whitehurst replaced injured starter Tarvaris Jackson in the third quarter and jumped into the no-huddle version of the offense with little practice in the art of haste.

After a couple of stumbles in the first two drives, Whitehurst directed the Seahawks to a field goal. Then, trailing 25-22 with 4:40 left, he took the Seahawks 80 yards to the go-ahead touchdown by completing four of five pass attempts, the only miss being a drop by a receiver. The resulting 36-25 road victory over the 10-point-favored Giants was transformative, taking the Seahawks from the clown car to at least an outer ring of the NFL circus.

Given that the injury to Jackson, a strained pectoral muscle on his right (throwing) side, has an unknown time for healing, Whitehurst’s late play has re-stoked the fires of debate that kept the Seahawks warm during the cold preseason shoulder they were receiving from national and local media.

The conventional wisdom in football is that when a team has two equal quarterbacks, it has no quarterback, meaning that the starter should clearly be better than the backup, or the team doesn’t have a winning leader. Plus, it creates the dreaded quarterback controversy.

Naturally, Pete Carroll is not much of a conventional thinker.

“There’s no controversy in this building,” he said, smiling. “You guys (reporters) can have all the one you want. I think it’s controversial to have two really good quarterbacks.”

Despite the attempt at sarcasm with the last remark, Carroll is sort of right. It is controversial to have two really good quarterbacks — if the Seahawks had two really good quarterbacks.

What they have is two quarterbacks verging on competence, which is more than what most Seahawks fans believed and less than what it takes for NFL success.

But success, as in 8-8 or better, really wasn’t in the figuring for this Seahawks season. When the Seahawks told Matt Hasselbeck he was free to go to Green Acres, and replaced him with a mediocre starter who was barely better than the mediocre backup they hired for the same money ($8 million, two years for each), they basically declared a season-long tryout, followed by the best quarterback available in the April draft.

Then, without competition, Jackson was declared the starter, thanks largely to his relationship with Darrell Bevell, the new offensive coordinator. For four and a half games, Jackson has been on a steady climb to averageness, peaking Sunday by helping get the Seahawks their first touchdowns in any first half this season.

Then he did a dumb thing: Keeping the ball on a quarterback option, he ran for 11 yards but failed to slide or otherwise avoid serious contact with the defense of the Giants, who committed the pectoral-ectomy.

“I’m still mad at him,” Carroll said, barely working up a joking expression. The injury forced Whitehurst into his first seasonal action.

“We got a good performance from Charlie,” he said. “He did the things we needed to do to keep the game moving and then had enough there to finish it off and get the touchdown drive. We’re really pleased about that.”

More than just winning the game, Carroll was pleased that Whitehurst did what Jackson increasingly was doing — managing the offense without making unrecoverable errors.

Carroll is not alone in believing that while some quarterbacks can win games alone, most games are won with quarterbacks who can run their teams without getting in the way of them. In other words, if Trent Dilfer can win a Super Bowl in 2001 by  completing 12 passes for 153 yards, the quarterback position doesn’t always require John Elway  — if the rest of the team is done right. But Carroll is among the few willing to throw away a proven winner in Hasselbeck to prove the point.

The theory is that if the defense and special teams are sufficiently adroit, and the offense has playmakers besides the QB, success is possible. As long as the QB doesn’t feel obliged to win the game himself, turnovers and mistakes borne of high risk can be reduced. Which is why the biggest development out of the Sunday triumph was the 145 rushing yards, including 98 by running back Marshawn Lynch. For the first time, the Seahawks weren’t predictable.

But the second-biggest development is the opportunity to second-guess the coach on his choice of quarterback. Whitehurst completed 11 of 19 passes for 149 yards. Jackson was 15 of 22 for 166 yards.

“Once (Charlie) got going, he relaxed and was comfortable and played very well,” Carroll said. “The numbers were pretty close . . .  I thought they both played well.”

Unfortunately for the second-guessers, the Seahawks have a bye this week, increasing the chances that Jackson will heal sufficiently for the next game  Oct. 23 at Cleveland.

Then again, if Jackson and Whitehurst can combine to beat the 3-1 Giants in New York — the first time the Seahawks have won, Giants or Jets, in Gotham in 28 years — does it matter?


YourThoughts

  • Pantos

    Glad to see both these fellas working out in the offense.  With Hasselbeck, Seattle had a bit of a lost decade in terms of qb mobility.  On the many occassions Hass wasn’t “on” it made for some pretty boring football. 

    Both Tarvaris and Charlie are fun to watch, hope it works out for one of em so we don’t have to go through another break-in year with a new prospect.

  • Pantos

    Glad to see both these fellas working out in the offense.  With Hasselbeck, Seattle had a bit of a lost decade in terms of qb mobility.  On the many occassions Hass wasn’t “on” it made for some pretty boring football. 

    Both Tarvaris and Charlie are fun to watch, hope it works out for one of em so we don’t have to go through another break-in year with a new prospect.

  • Trav_jill

    But the second-biggest development is the opportunity to second-guess the coach on his choice of quarterback. Whitehurst completed 11 of 19 passes for 149 yards. THIS WAS LESS THAN TWO QUARTERS

    Jackson was 15 of 22 for 166 yards.THIS TOOK 3/4s OF THE GAME WOW!!!

  • Trav_jill

    But the second-biggest development is the opportunity to second-guess the coach on his choice of quarterback. Whitehurst completed 11 of 19 passes for 149 yards. THIS WAS LESS THAN TWO QUARTERS

    Jackson was 15 of 22 for 166 yards.THIS TOOK 3/4s OF THE GAME WOW!!!

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  • Herb Huseland

    During preseason I wasn’t impressed with Whitehirst at all. Last Sunday a different Whitehurst showed up. Pinpoint passing, great vision down field, he had it all. I just hope it wasn’t a fluke. If it wasn’t, the Seahawks have two first string QB’s.  

  • Herb Huseland

    During preseason I wasn’t impressed with Whitehirst at all. Last Sunday a different Whitehurst showed up. Pinpoint passing, great vision down field, he had it all. I just hope it wasn’t a fluke. If it wasn’t, the Seahawks have two first string QB’s.  

  • Herb Huseland

    For those that dissed Hasselback, I suggest you look at the standings specifically Tennessee. He never had a good offensive line. QB’s seldome throw accurately fromn on their backs.

    • Anonymous

      Hasselbeck sucked because he was not mobile. He didn’t have a bad o-line for the last 5 years – he just can’t move.
      Unfortunately, when the o-line is as bad as the Seahawks, you just have to get a QB in there that has some legs and Hasselbeck didn’t have any.
      He is in a perfect situation now with a solid o-line and a super halfback.
      If you watched Sundays’ game though, he’ll never get that team really going unless he gets away from the 5-10 yard dink passes. It makes for great personal stats, but not necessarily a win.

  • Herb Huseland

    For those that dissed Hasselback, I suggest you look at the standings specifically Tennessee. He never had a good offensive line. QB’s seldome throw accurately fromn on their backs.

    • 1coolguy

      Hasselbeck sucked because he was not mobile. He didn’t have a bad o-line for the last 5 years – he just can’t move.
      Unfortunately, when the o-line is as bad as the Seahawks, you just have to get a QB in there that has some legs and Hasselbeck didn’t have any.
      He is in a perfect situation now with a solid o-line and a super halfback.
      If you watched Sundays’ game though, he’ll never get that team really going unless he gets away from the 5-10 yard dink passes. It makes for great personal stats, but not necessarily a win.

  • Anonymous

    I liked the better production from Jackson Sunday. It seems he’s still “thinking” and it seems he has trouble getting into rhythm. Whitehurst did a good job, especially off the bench and seems to have the rhythm and the ability to run the team better than Jackson in the no-huddle.

    Overall they both did well (Especially considering how the line SUCKS), and Whitehurst, to me, seemed more polished and sure in the position.

    It’s just a shame there were the 2 red zone fumbles in the first half (INEXCUSABLE) which would have made it a completely diffferent game.

    PS: The line, as bad as it is, had definitely shown improvement since the first game. Hopefully they continue to improve.

  • 1coolguy

    I liked the better production from Jackson Sunday. It seems he’s still “thinking” and it seems he has trouble getting into rhythm. Whitehurst did a good job, especially off the bench and seems to have the rhythm and the ability to run the team better than Jackson in the no-huddle.

    Overall they both did well (Especially considering how the line SUCKS), and Whitehurst, to me, seemed more polished and sure in the position.

    It’s just a shame there were the 2 red zone fumbles in the first half (INEXCUSABLE) which would have made it a completely diffferent game.

    PS: The line, as bad as it is, had definitely shown improvement since the first game. Hopefully they continue to improve.

  • 1coolguy

    Pretty tough to win when the defense and special teams puts the O in such a hole. UW is ranked 93rd of 120 D-1 teams, ugh. Sure wish we’d at least make a fight of it – have the players given up on Holt?

    http://content.usatoday.com/sportsdata/football/ncaaf/stats/team-total-defense