Whitehurst's Final Drive: What Whitehurst Did, Part 1

Rhythm passing means coordinating a route with a drop step. So when the quarterback finishes his third step, for instance, a receiver is at critical point within his route where they have achieved separation and are ready to receive. You wouldn't pair slants with a seven-step drop. You wouldn't pair a post corner with a three-step drop. But is a drop step a drop step? A slant a slant? And what are the constituent qualities that create chemistry between a receiver and a quarterback?

1. 1-10-SEA 34 (4:15) 6-C.Whitehurst pass short left to 87-B.Obomanu to SEA 47 for 13 yards (38-P.Ittersagen).

Charlie Whitehurst drops three steps, hesitates and then passes to Ben Obomanu running a slant away from the left sideline. His inconsistent timing on three-step drops, I wonder: Is Whitehurst dropping back too fast? Obomanu receives, breaks through a Pete Ittersagen arm tackle and continues up field for 13.

2. 1-10-SEA 47 (3:43) 6-C.Whitehurst pass incomplete short right to 87-B.Obomanu.

A little bad blocking and a little hyper-vigilance kills this play before it can come together. Whitehurst drops. Joe Toledo struggles to block Chris Harrington. Harrington flashes free for an instant before Mitch Erickson can swing over and assist. That split-second of pressure causes Whitehurst to scramble to his right and eventually throw the ball away.

4. 3-5-TEN 48 (2:57) (Shotgun) 6-C.Whitehurst pass short right to 11-D.Butler to TEN 45 for 3 yards (20-A.Verner). Penalty on SEA, Illegal Formation, declined.

As a matter of clarification, I think the officials missed this penalty. They claimed that #19 (wide receiver Kole Heckendorf) and #45 (Long-snapper Clint Gresham) were "covered up." Seattle started with eight players on the line of scrimmage: Heckendorf, Anthony McCoy, Mike Williams and the five offensive linemen. Quinton Ganther was to the right of Whitehurst. Deon Butler motioned from the right slot to behind the line and then back just outside and behind McCoy's right shoulder. Requisite players on the line, no players on the line within the ranks of the offensive line and no other infractions that I could see.

It sure set up a cool play though.

Oh, and Butler ran from the right slot, broke into an out and Whitehurst found him for three. Alterraun Verner was waiting to clobber Butler, and so this wasn't a great read by any stretch.

To the fun.

5. 4-2-TEN 45 (2:34) (Shotgun) 6-C.Whitehurst pass deep left to 11-D.Butler to TEN 9 for 36 yards (29-R.Mouton). WATCH HIGHLIGHT

Oh, semi-legal pick routes, how awesome you are.

Whitehurst receives the shotgun snap. His first read is the tight end, but McCoy is running right into cover. In fact, every receiver is covered but one. That receiver is ridiculously open.

Butler and Williams run intersecting patterns. Williams starts out and slants in. Butler starts inside and runs a corner. In the process, Mouton is picked off and away from Butler and Butler is just too damn fast for Mouton to catch up. He streaks free. Whitehurst moves his read left, sees Butler wide open and puts maximum air under the pass to make it a gimme for the wide open receiver. Butler settles under and shows some of that evasiveness and run after catch that no one seems to realize he has. The pass travels 20 yards and Butler picks up another 16 so fast you might have missed it.

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