Charlie Whitehurst finished with 1.4 adjusted net yards an attempt. If interceptions are worth 60 yards, as Brian Burke concluded, that falls to 0.1. Projected Matt Hasselbeck would have finished with 3.4 ANY/A, and so we can say Whitehurst performed worse than projected Matt. Which doesn't mean a ton, but puts his performance in perspective. One of those interceptions was not Whitehurst's fault, but that's upholding a double standard. According to raw stats, Whitehurst was pretty terrifically awful. We don't know how good either quarterback could be in another offense, but plenty of good quarterbacks succeed without the best surrounding talent, see Philip Rivers for instance, and so neither quarterback is really excused of their poor play. This wasn't a cogent defense of anyone so much as further evidence that Seattle is desperate for a quarterback.
Though Whitehurst played poorly, the most practical decision would be to stick with him for the rest of the season. I know that won't happen. If Hasselbeck is the better quarterback, he earns the start, and that's how football works. Which is good, ethically. But unless Seattle wants to re-sign Matt and believes Matt will re-sign, there just isn't much utility to continuing to start him. This shouldn't be judgment day in the career of Charlie Whitehurst, starting quarterback.
Of course, quarterback play hardly factored into the outcome of this game. The defense collapsed. The blitzes didn't work and both Leos failed to factor. The secondary collapsed. Eli Manning picked on Marcus Trufant all day, and Tru had one of those games that reminds you he isn't elite and he's not getting any younger. I think he suffered the complete lack of pass rush, because he was often close in single coverage on long developing routes, but even accepting the conditional aspect of cornerback play, I didn't see much to like about Tru's play. Mario Manningham and Steve Smith were losing him out of the break over and over again.
I think if I proposed the same kind of question after this week's game as I did after last week's game, whether winning the West is in the best interest of the team long term, it would not be met with such hostility, but that's all said. The question I ask this week is, why has this team not improved? Rock bottom is supposed to be cathartic, but I am starting to wonder if the Seahawks have yet to bottom out. Their record notwithstanding, there is no logical argument I can make that this team is much better than it was in 2008 or 2009.
Here's my quick and dirty estimation of why this team continues to be bad.
Free Agent Talent Lost and Traded
Nate Burleson left through free agency, T.J. Houshmandzadeh was cut and Deion Branch was traded. All those moves thinned and weakened the wide receiver corps. I would have liked if Burleson stuck around, but he had some major warts: drops, dropped routes and he was about to become very expensive. Losing Housh didn't make much sense, but it wasn't a head scratcher really. Just a move that didn't seem to have a clear reason, outside of bad press. I like the Branch trade.
So, it's not an indictment of Carroll or Schneider that those players were lost, but it has probably made the team worse. Seattle also lost Cory Redding, but that paved the way for Red Bryant. No problems there.
Young Talent Traded Away
Assuming Seattle could not have or did not want to re-sign Josh Wilson, Rob Sims or Darryl Tapp, a loss like today's only supports the FO's decision to trade away talent for picks. Each would have been a valuable player in some capacity, but even in total, Wilson, Sims and Tapp probably wouldn't have made much of a difference to the outcome of today's game. So, we might call this a small step back with the hope that maybe one of the picks attained in return will turn into someone valuable.
Every team suffers injury, and I do not assume Seattle has been particularly unfortunate. Maybe the Seahawks have been, but injuries like penalties create a kind of myopia in fans. We always assume our team is screwed worse than others, because we don't follow that kind of information about other teams. The most costly injury has been to Russell Okung, and the offensive line has really suffered without him. The line didn't look terrible today, but though I stopped taking notes partway through the second, it did look like Seattle used a lot of six and seven blocker packages. Sacks and pressure are not the only cost of a weak offensive line.
Losing Colin Cole, Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant greatly weakened the run defense and that set up the play action game. That in turn led to a deadly passing attack by the Giants. Like I said, it looked like Trufant was on an island all game, and that's a hard assignment.
Lack of Development
Here's the bad one. One reason Seattle was not better in 2009 than it was in 2008 was that its big, early draft pick, Aaron Curry, failed to contribute. It's early second round pick failed to contribute, Max Unger. Deon Butler did not contribute in 2009, but is contributing some in 2010. The only other player that remains from the 2009 class is Cameron Morrah.
When we look back farther, we can see class after class not contributing. The 2010 class is not contributing a whole ton outside of Earl Thomas. The 2008 class was decent, but Lawrence Jackson was schemed out and traded. After Wilson was traded away, Mebane and Will Herring carry the flag of the 2007 class, and Mebane has missed a good portion of the season.
If you go all the way back to 2005, it's pretty easy to see that the combination of bad picks and good picks traded away has led to a team that's more or less starting over. No quarterback of the future was developed. No pass rushing defensive end was retained or developed. Kelly Jennings is the lone remaining defensive back drafted -- excluding 2010 draftees Thomas and Walter Thurmond -- and that sort of speaks for itself. This is presumably Jennings' last year in Seattle.
Tim Ruskell's failures still hurt this team and his successes were mostly lost in a shift of styles, and so the Seahawks are truly and excruciatingly rebuilding. Games like today are part of the process, and they suck, and they don't promise future success, and there's not much positive that can be taken away from them, but they're unavoidable. They are part of being a fan.
So the Seahawks are pretty bad this season, but if we can get some consistency of coaching and management, it should be easy enough to recover over the next few seasons. Ruskell resigned to avoid being fired, and I have to say deservedly, though I don't see Ruskell as the demon so many Seahawks fans do. When he left, Seahawks fans were guaranteed to suffer the pains of a team in transition, and this was one of the more painful of the pains.
Game ball: I can't say for certain whether Chester Pitts had a Tyler Polumbus good game or something more like an actual good game, but it looked like he handled himself, at position he doesn't know, against one of the league's premier defensive ends, Osi Umenyiora, and that's a hell of an accomplishment. It's so good, I don't even have to qualify it.
If you're a Seahawks fan, and you're the kind that doesn't turn the game off even in the face of the blackest of defeats, this is the kind of performance that makes you feel a little bit happy, a little bit hopeful, and a little bit optimistic. Pitts could have quit but he didn't. Game ball.