I apologize in advance if some/most/all of you are tired of the "Bench Hasselbeck for Whitehurst" discussion, but I feel that this discussion is going to continue whether some of us want it to or not, so I figured, "If we're going to talk about this, we should do it right." I still think the question of whether Matt should be benched or not is still open to debate (not that any of us have any say in the matter), but I do feel that the reasons WHY the transition should be made are fairly clear.
So here's a handy list of those reasons; some of these have already been discussed ad nauseum, but not everyone reads and memorizes every comment thread:
1.) Matt is 35 years old, and will be a free agent after this season.
I feel this is the most important factor when discussing the Hass/CW issue; even if Matt puts everything together and guides this team to postseason glory (not out of the question, since we're still tied for 1st place in the division) he could still sign with another team or retire. I'll also add the fact that Whitehurst is only signed through 2011, and if worse comes to worse and that season is lost to a lockout, it's possible he could leave this organization without ever getting a chance to prove himself here.
2.) Matt's arm strength has become a liability.
He can still throw the ball, and he's still completing passes at a 60% rate, but he can't -- or won't -- throw the ball more than 15 yards down the field. Can an offense survive with such station-to-station playcalling? Perhaps...but the QB has to be perfect in every other aspect of his game to make up for it. Matt has been fairly error-prone even when not considering the arm issue. Is it fair for Hasselbeck to be judged that way? No way...but that's the reality of the situation in today's NFL.
3.) Matt's arm strength affects how we play offense, and how other teams defend us.
In a certain sense, opposing defenses are playing Matt like we're continuously in the redzone. With no fear of a long pass downfield, everyone plays closer and tighter. There's much less room for a receiver to get open, because in a certain light, Matt is taking away almost all of the field from his own team. Other teams already know this; are they going to let up on him, or will it get tougher?
4.) Matt is unlikely to last 16 games.
We all know Matt has been hurt 3 of the past 4 seasons, and while it's possible he can get through the next 12 games unscathed, I wouldn't bet on it. Here's one way of looking at this situation: We could start Whitehurst now to see whether or not he is an adequate replacement for Hasselbeck, and still have the option of handing the reigns back to Matt if the need arises...or wait until Matt gets hurt and through Charlie to the fire, and (possibly) not have Matt available if we need him. I believe that if Matt were to be benched he would be professional enough to take it with dignity, and also perform as admiralably as possible if asked to come back and start again.
5.) We need to know what we have in Whitehurst, so to decide what to do with this team beyond 2010.
This is not just about whether the Seahawks should drat a QB next year (although that's a large part of it). Frankly, we also need to know how well our current crop of offensive players play with CW, in an effort to better assess who remains on the team and who doesn't. Maybe those questions can be answered in practice, but maybe not. Also consider that we'll probably draft a QB that is a good fit for this offense, which could mean someone who is Whitehurst-esque, not to mention CW will probably be the opening day starter come 2011 no matter what else happens....short of incredibly poor play this season. BUT WE WOULDN'T KNOW IF HE'S WORTH KEEPING AROUND IF HE SITS ON THE BENCH ALL YEAR!
This is not to say that there aren't good reasons to stick with Hasselbeck, or that there should be no discussion about this issue going forward. This is just how I see the situation at this point, so I welcome any constructive criticism and any information I may have missed.