J.P. Losman is the retread. Charlie Whitehurst the young gun-slinger. Everything is established and neatly classified.
But, did you know that Whitehurst is little more than a year younger than Losman? Whitehurst is closer in age to Losman than Earl Thomas is to Russell Okung. Seattle spent big on Whitehurst and his lack of failure leads many to be more optimistic about his potential, but it's entirely possible that Losman wins the pre-season battle to back up Matt Hasselbeck. It's entirely possible that Losman proves to be the better quarterback.
2009: Seneca Wallace
Wallace has sacked himself for the last time in Seahawks blue. Like most backup quarterbacks and about half the starters, Seneca was one part exciting and three parts gawdawful. But here's a question that cuts right to the heart of the matter: Will Wallace be worse than Losman, Whitehurst or Hasselbeck in 2010? I wish I could say for sure.
The Import: Charlie Whitehurst
Whitehurst is a career backup with a spotty pre-season record. There is not a lot in the way of evidence that Whitehurst can succeed in the NFL, so much as reasons we shouldn't write him off. Yes, he was third-string on the Chargers depth chart, but behind Philip Rivers and, erm, Billy Volek. And, yes, Volek is 34 and a career backup, but the Chargers really like him. So, you see, Whitehurst can still be good, because the evidence that he's bad isn't conclusive.
He has excellent tools and is an excellent fit for Jeremy Bates system, and the thinking seems to be that Seattle can surround Whitehurst with talent and that he will succeed because of that talent. It's not unheard of. Surrounding a quarterback with talent and a strong system is exactly how Bill Walsh turned Steve Young into a Hall of Fame inductee. It is also, one might argue, what Bates did for Jay Cutler.
We shall see, and while we do, another very similar player might prove the theory correct while simultaneously proving the Whitehurst trade foolish.
The Retread: J.P. Losman
If we are willing to be very open-minded about Whitehurst, why not apply the same attitude towards UFL Champion J.P. Losman? It's only sensible. The assumption seems to be that Losman is a proven failure while Whitehurst is all beard, locks and potential. But wouldn't a more logical comparison be that Losman has achieved 33 NFL starts and thrown 952 regular season passing attempts, and Whitehurst none? Some Seahawks fan are claiming that it is better to fail in the pre-season and never earn a regular season passing attempt than it is to fail in the regular season. That seems.. specious.
Losman is strong-armed and fleet of foot, just like Whitehurst. He struggles from the same weaknesses, too. Both players struggle reading coverage, struggle sensing pressure and take too many bad sacks. Bates seems to think he can cure those weaknesses. And maybe he can.
2008: 1.8% (best in the NFL)
Cutler's completion percentage and adjusted yards per attempt dropped from 2007 to 2008, but Cutler went from a normal sack percentage to best in the league.
Something to consider. Despite the relative resources invested in trading for Whitehurst versus signing Losman, I think the competition for backup quarterback, and by way of it, competition for starting quarterback, is wide open.