By Mike Salk
You don't need me to tell you how bad Charlie Whitehurst was on Sunday in Cleveland. Or do you? Alright, maybe you do.
He was brutal.
In a league that values accuracy, Whitehurst completed just 40 percent of his passes plus one to the other team. He threw into double and triple coverage. He threw a ball straight up in the air despite not being hit on the play. He fumbled. He made the wrong decision nearly every time there was a decision to be made.
Charlie Whitehurst's performance on Sunday included a 40 percent completion rate, an interception and a lost fumble. (AP)
He was so bad that he even weakened the defense by keeping them on the field for nearly 43 minutes. You don't think that had anything to do with the final drives of the game or the frustration Red Bryant showed on the penalty that got him ejected?
He was so bad that his best play of the day may have STILL cost the team the game. Whitehurst managed to connect on a 38-yard pass to Sidney Rice, who was wide open thanks to a complete coverage breakdown. Unfortunately, it was a poorly thrown ball and Rice fell out of bounds soon after catching it. It was a sure touchdown with a well-thrown ball.
There will be those that make excuses for the performance and they are all valid, to some extent. Some will say:
• Marshawn Lynch was a late scratch with a back injury. Whitehurst could have used the battering-ram back to take some of the pressure off of himself.
• Max Unger and Zack Miller were both inactive. Unger has been a quiet success story this year and Miller is a Pro Bowler who has helped mask many problems on the offensive line.
• There were dropped passes. Anthony McCoy didn't bathe himself in glory with a couple of big drops and Ben Obamanu's imitation of a statue didn't help the final drive get underway.
• The officials were atrocious. Referee Mike Carey's crew kept a Browns drive going with an iffy personal foul against Kam Chancellor. Kennard Cox was called for a block in the back that nullified a Leon Washington touchdown return and there looked like pass interference on Whitehurst's lone pick of the day.
The excuses all have some level of validity, yet it was impossible to watch this game and not think that Whitehurst was the biggest problem.
Tim Hasselbeck joined the show this week and for the third time, reminded everyone that Charlie Whitehurst was brought to Seattle with great fanfare. The Hawks moved back in the second round a traded a third-round pick for Whitehurst. They then rewarded him with a nice new contract and, as Tim points out, the type of press conference that is usually reserved for a starting quarterback.
Though Tim insinuates that the team was trying to show off its new starter, I think the message was different. I think they were trying to show off their EVENTUAL starter.
Some 19 months later, the idea of Whitehurst as the "quarterback of the future" seems ludicrous. He has started three games, and played horribly in two of them. He was beaten badly for the starting job a year ago by an aging Matt Hasselbeck. He failed to take advantage of being the only quarterback under contract during the lockout to step up into a leadership role. Then he was relegated to a role behind Tarvaris Jackson, a quarterback who's greatest career accomplishment was being benched by Brett Favre not once, but twice.
Not exactly impressive.
There should not be anyone in Seattle calling for Whitehurst to start over Jackson anymore. There should not be anyone who believes in a quarterback controversy. There should not be anyone who wants to "just give Charlie a chance."
After the Seahawks beat the Giants two weeks ago in New York, Pete Carroll was careful to heap praise on Jackson while he hesitated to give much credit to Whitehurst for leading the final drive.
Two weeks later in Cleveland, we found out why.
Don't go away from this game thinking that there wasn't anything positive gained. There was. We all learned once and for all that Charlie Whitehurst is not the starting quarterback of the future. Now that we know, we can keep pressing the team to find him.
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