Saturday, November 6, 2010
Who is Charlie Whitehurst?
This Sunday when the Seattle Seahawks take on the New York Giants you'll notice a different starting quarterback back there. The guy that fans love to boo is out with a concussion in Matt Hasselbeck so filling in for him is Charlie Whitehurst. Which begs the question who is Charlie Whitehurst?
When I had heard that Pete Carroll had traded a third round pick and traded down 20 spots in the draft to the San Diego Chargers I was actually excited. The Seahawks finally filled a need which was get a defensive end. What? He's a quarterback?! How come I never heard of him? So he was in the league for a year then right? Nope he has been in the NFL since the 2006 season. He has held a clipboard for the San Diego Chargers for four seasons. Well I did some research and was thinking he must have looked good in garbage time. That wasn't the case either as Whitehurst was always third string as he could never beat out Billy Volek. In fact Whitehurst had played in just two games both of which were his rookie year in 2006 and he has yet to throw an NFL pass.
Despite not ever throwing a pass in four NFL seasons Pete Carroll decided to give up a third round pick, trade 20 spots back in the second round(Could have drafted Colt McCoy or Jimmy Clausen and pay them LESS money than Whitehurst). Whitehurst must have torn it up in college right? Well not exactly. He was a three year starter and started five games as a freshman. As a starting quarterback he went 25-15, threw for 9,665 yards with 49 touchdowns but 46 interceptions and a completion percentage of just 59.7. Now early on in his career at Clemson there was plenty of hope. In fact in his first career start he threw for 420 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He followed that start up with another four touchdown and no interception game. Not bad for a freshman Whitehurst ended the year with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Whitehurst continued his career with a great sophomore season which saw Clemson go 9-4. During that year Whitehurst completed 61.9% of his passes threw for 21 touchdowns to 13 interceptions and threw for 3,561 yards. He also ran in four touchdowns that year. Then for Whitehurst he took a huge step backwards in his years where you typically see most quarterbacks show huge improvement. During his junior year Clemson started off 1-4 and ended up just 6-5. Whitehurst was terrible his junior year completing just 50.7% of his passes passing for just seven touchdown passes and 17 interceptions. His senior year he would complete 67.4% of his passes but throw for just 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Despite a rough end to his career Whitehurst was selected in the third round of the 2006 draft by the San Diego Chargers.
When Carroll traded a third round pick and went back 20 spots in the second round for Whitehurst he must have saw something in preseason. Like Mike Holmgren did when he traded for his former quarterback who was an unknown at the time Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck had just 29 pass attempts under his belt at the time. The difference is the Seahawks just traded 10 spots back in the first round and that was it. Hasselbeck was also the highest quarterback for the previous two years in preseason while Whitehurst hasn't been so great. Keep in mind he was mostly playing against third and fourth stringers aka people without jobs at San Diego where was his stats. He completed 104 of 197 passes for for just 52.6% for 1031 yards, threw for five touchdowns but seven interceptions while fumbling 13 times and had a wonderful QB rating of 60.6. Sounds like the Seahawks got bent over right? Well not so fast.
The Seahawks fans are slow to embrace Whitehurst because we have been down this road before. Back in the late 80's and early 90's the fan base wanted to run off at the time the Seahawks best quarterback in franchise history Dave Krieg. The team traded a first round pick and Seahawks legend Kenny Easley for Kelly Stouffer in 1988. It should be noted Easley never played for the Cardinals. After seeing that Stouffer wasn't the guy in the 1991 NFL draft the Seahawks in the first round selected Dan McGwire(Mark's brother). Then headcoach Chuck Knox advised they draft this young gunslinger Brett Favre. So it could have been the Seahawks who were stabbed in the heart by Favre. The team finally released Krieg after the 1991 season. The team didn't have a winning record until 1999.
The Seahawks finally struck gold in Matt Hasselbeck in 2001 but there has been some whiffs in the middle. In 2002 they drafted athlete Seneca Wallace in the fourth round. Wallace has career backup written all over him which is fine. In Seattle he started 14 games and passed for 3,547 yards with 25 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. Wallace had a solid rating of 83.1 but he also was just 5-9 as a starting quarterback. Wallace was also undersized. The Seahawks got enough mileage out of Wallace who is 30 years old now to say that pick worked out. The Seahawks in the 2005 draft took David Greene out of Georgia in the third round. After two seasons of holding a clipboard he was released in favore of Charlie Frye. Frye was the opening week starter for the Cleveland Browns in 2007. After a solid preseason in 2008 Frye got a chance to start a game for the Seahawks. The Seahawks lost 27-17 and Frye was horrible passing 12 of 23 for 83 yards. Save to say Frye wasn't the answer either. So now it goes back to Charlie Whitehurst. Who is Charlie Whitehurst?
When you look at Charlie Whitehurst he is a big physical quarterback with a strong arm and is mobile. He is 6'4" and at times during this preseason he looked pretty good. In fact he was the guy who got Mike Williams noticed when he audibled a play to check it down to Mike Williams on a comeback route. Williams busted the tackle and went 51 yards for the touchdown in the first preseason game. Whitehurst is a bit of a wildcard in this game against the Giants. He has been viewed as the "savior" despite being 28 years old.
At the end of the day tomorrow's game is a bit of a mystery. Sure the Seahawks could be starting Seneca Wallace tomorrow against the Giants and he would be steady. The problem with Wallace is he is just that steady he doesn't do anything positive or negative so that is why the Seahawks typically lose with him. So if the Hawks still had Wallace they'd probably lose tomorrow. As for Whitehurst well that is a huge question mark. When Whitehurst throws his first pass on Sunday it will be his first pass in the NFL despite being in the league for four and a half years. Whitehurst could implode as Mark A. Miller predicts or he could have a great game and create a quarterback controversy. One thing is for sure after Sunday we'll finally find the answers to who is Charlie Whitehurst?