"We have a tremendous amount of respect for Matt Hasselbeck, but I think when Charlie Whitehurst gets in there, he's every bit as effective as Matt," Spagnuolo said in a conference call Wednesday, presumably with a straight face.-- Seattle PI: "Spagnuolo: Whitehurst 'every bit as effective' as Hasselbeck"
As the Seahawks and Rams gird for the winner-take-all season finale Sunday, we still don’t know whether Hasselbeck or Whitehurst will take the snaps at kickoff. (Nor do we have a very good sense on whether Seattle fans in attendance will be rooting for their team to win.) But one thing we do know: even in his golden years, there’s still a pretty huge gulf between what Hasselbeck can do and what Whitehurst has shown so far.
I went back and watched all of Whitehurst’s throws from his last two games and came away with a Kyle Boller kind of feeling. This is a guy who just doesn’t seem to have command or touch, and who shouldn’t be asked to carry a team on his shoulders. However it's hard to tell, because for the most part, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates have not been willing to let him.
To get my own take, I went back and watched every snap he took over the last two weeks. n five quarters of work, he completed 19 of 34 passes for 149 yards, with 0 TDs and 0 INTs. Here’s a scouting report on each of these pass attempts, after the break:
Week 15, vs Atlanta.
|0:52 3rd quarter, Seahawks down 34-10|
|1-10||SEA 27||2 RB, 1 TE||WR screen complete to Obomanu for 7 yards. Pass thrown behind the line of scrimmage to weak side (right).|
|2-3||SEA 34||2 RB, 1 TE||Incomplete to M Williams. Brent Grimes all over the 5-yard hitch route. Target to the weak side (right).|
|3-3||SEA 34||1 RB, 2 TE||Incomplete to Obomanu. Tries a back-shoulder throw to receiver, looks like DB grabs WR and prevents him from getting it. Target to the left.|
|13:09 4th quarter, Seahawks down 34-10|
|1-10||SEA 12||2 RB, 1 TE||Hitch route to Williams complete for 17 yards. (12 yards after catch). Target to the weak side (right). Handled bad snap.|
|1-10||SEA 29||2 RB, 1 TE||Skinny post to Williams incomplete 17 yards down field. Target weak side (left) hash. Jordan Babineaux all over the route.|
|1-10||SEA 42||2 RB, 1 TE||Corner route to Carlson complete for 31 yards. (19 yards after catch). Target to strong side. Nifty combination block-release-inside-outside route by Carlson. Whitehurst gets plowed by Kory Biermann on the release.|
|1-10||ATL 14||1 RB, 1 TE||Incomplete dump-off to Forsett. Thrown behind receiver. Targeting the shortest route on the weak side (left).|
|2-10||ATL 14||5 WR||Incomplete hitch to Stokely. Flat out dropped as hit was coming. Targeting the shortest route on the weak side (left).|
|3-10||ATL 14||1 RB, 1 TE >> 5 WR||Hitch complete to Williams for 6 yards. Targeting the shortest route on the weak side (left).|
|4-4||ATL 8||1 RB, 1 TE||Scramble for 6 yards.|
|1-Goal||ATL 2||3 RB, 2 TE||Scramble for 2 yards, TOUCHDOWN.|
|PAT||ATL 2||0 RB, 1 TE||Incomplete curl to Carlson. PENALTY: defensive pass interference.|
|PAT||ATL 1||1 RB, 1 TE||Corner fade complete to Obomanu for two point conversion. Best touch pass of the game. Targeting the weak side (right).|
|6:25 4th quarter, Seahawks down 34-18|
|1-10||SEA 20||1 RB, 1 TE||Complete dump-off to Forsett for 4 yards. Targeting the shortest route on the weak side (right).|
|2-11||SEA 19||1 RB, 1 TE||Incomplete dump-off to Forsett. Thrown to avoid a sack. (False start penalty before snap.)|
|3-16||SEA 14||2 RB, 0 TE||Complete dump-off to M Robinson in flat for 4 yards. Incomprehensible decision. (False start penalty before snap.)|
|3:39 4th quarter, Seahawks down 34-18|
|1-10||SEA 10||1 RB, 1 TE||Complete short post to Williams for 8 yards.|
|2-2||SEA 18||1 RB, 1 TE||Incomplete out to Obomanu. Recovered bad snap/fumble before throw. Targeting 2nd route on strong side (right).|
|1-10||SEA 24||1 RB, 1 TE||Whitehurst SACKED by John Abraham. Bull-rushed through Russel Okung on weak side.|
|2-17||SEA 17||1 RB, 1 TE||Whitehurst scramble for 3 yards.|
|3-14||SEA 20||1 RB, 1 TE||Complete out to Williams for 6 yards. Targeting shortest route on weak side (left).|
|4-8||SEA 26||1 RB, 1 TE||Incomplete hitch to Williams. Targeted outside route at the sticks on weak side (right).|
Obviously, a strong trend emerges here -- out of 16 throws, 12 were thrown to the side of the field opposite where the tight end lined up. And most of his throws were to the lowest branch of the passing tree. However, it's worth mentioning that he did make two quality throws, which I’ve highlighted.
Week 16: at Tampa.
|0:25 1st quarter, Seahawks up 7-3|
|1-10||SEA 29||2 RB, 1 TE||WR screen incomplete to Obomanu. Horribly overthrown. Target shortest route on weak side (left).|
|3-4||SEA 35||1 RB, 1 TE||WR hitch incomplete to Obomanu. Thrown badly behind WR, though possibly WR should have run an out. Target only route on strong side (left).|
|12:23 2nd quarter, Seahawks down 10-7|
|3-8||SEA 25||1 RB, 0 TE||WR hitch incomplete to Morrah. Thrown into double coverage. Target inside route at sticks on 3-WR side (right).|
|6:17 2nd quarter, Seahawks down 17-7|
|1-10||SEA 42||2 RB, 1 TE||RB screen incomplete to Lynch. Ball batted away by DE, though RB would have been creamed for a loss. Target shortest route on weak side (left).|
|2-10||SEA 42||1 RB, 2 TE||Out complete to Carlson for 4 yards. Targeted shortest route on weak side (right) … “weak side” being the side away from the blocking TE.|
|3-6||SEA 46||1 RB, 1 TE||Naked RB screen complete to Forsett for 9 yards (9 yards after catch). Thrown behind the line of scrimmage on weak side.|
|3-2||TB 37||2 RB, 2 TE||Whitehurst scrambles for 0 yards (SACK). Rolls right, but has only two receivers on that side of the field … the short route is double covered, so he tries to run it.|
|15:00 3rd quarter, Seahawks down 17-7|
|2-9||SEA 39||2 RB, 0 TE||WR screen incomplete to Morrah. Thrown behind the line to the inside WR on left.|
|3-9||SEA 39||1 RB, 1 TE||Whitehurst scrambles for 1 yard. Looking deep left, but bails on play.|
|6:38 3rd quarter, Seahawks down 24-7|
|3-5||SEA 21||1 RB, 1 TE||Dig complete to Stokely for 6 yards. Target inside WR crossing from strong side. Stokely gets absolutely creamed on the play.|
|1-10||SEA 27||1 RB, 1 TE||Whitehurst SACKED. (LB Blitz)|
|3-9||SEA 28||1 RB, 0 TE||Whitehurst SACKED. (4 man rush)|
|1:28 3rd quarter, Seahawks down 31-7|
|2-8||SEA 48||2 RB, 0 TE||Whitehurst scrambles for 5 yards.|
|3-3||TB 47||1 RB, 1 TE||Short out complete to Tate for 3 yards. Target shortest route on weak side (left).|
|2-10||TB 44||1 RB, 1 TE||Incomplete slant to Carlson, crossing from strong side to weak side.|
|3-10||TB 44||1 RB, 1 TE||Short hitch complete to Tate for 2 yards. Thrown to shortest route on weak side (left).|
|4-8||TB 42||1 RB, 1 TE||Inside pass complete to Carlson for 12 yards, crossing from strong side to weak side. First legit NFL throw of the day.|
|1-10||TB 30||1 RB, 0 TE||WR screen complete to Obomanu for 14 yards (14 yards after catch).|
|1-10||TB 16||1 RB, 0 TE||RB screen complete to Forsett for -4 yards.|
|2-14||TB 20||1 RB, 0 TE||Inside curl complete to Obomanu for 4 yards. Thrown to shortest inside route on 3-WR side.|
|PAT||TB 2||1 RB, 1 TE||Out complete to Obomanu for 2-point conversion. Thrown to shortest route on weak side (left).|
|7:56 4th quarter, Seahawks down 38-15|
|1-10||SEA 26||1 RB, 1 TE||Go route incomplete to Williams (knocked away by Biggers). Thrown to deepest route on strong side (right).|
|2-20||SEA 16||1 RB, 1 TE||Short hitch complete to Tate for 5 yards. Thrown to shortest route on strong side (left).|
|3-15||SEA 21||1 RB, 1 TE||Hitch complete to Carlson for 11 yards. Thrown to strong side.|
If anything, Whitehurst looks worse the more plays you give him. A decent completion percentage belies a preschool offense as pureed and spoonfed as anything Keith Null was ever asked to run. Only three times did he target a receiver more than five yards down field, only once was that throw completed for a first down, and that was on a must-have 4th and 8.
However, as Doug Farrar suggests, perhaps WHitehurst has been hamstrung by his own lack of practice reps.
“You know, the tough thing about our offense is if you’re the starting quarterback you get every rep, and that’s what I’ve always believed....
So this week Charlie is getting the reps, so it helps. It helps getting the timing and helps understanding the game plan a little more, and just getting the confidence of where everyone’s going to be, and the execution, of course, is going to be sharper.”-- With increased reps, Whitehurst hopes to survive.
That said, every indication out of Seattle seems to be leaning toward Hasselbeck starting in spite of his injury, and in spite of this increased prep time. It looks like, if Seattle sees the same things I'm seeing in this rudimentary film study, they just don't trust Whitehurst.