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Charlie Whitehurst's First NFL Start - Breaking Down the First Half

In a series of posts, I'm going to be taking a look at nearly all of Charlie Whitehurst's snaps in 2010 and try to give you a good breakdown of each play. In order to keep it fresh, I'll be breaking it out into several posts. I'll start with the least entertaining game in the 2010 year - Week 9 vs the New York Giants. I had the great misfortune of being at this game - and it was even worse in person. Especially because there were a couple jackass Giants fans in the row in front of me and they were the worst people in the world. It actually pains me to watch this game again so if my mood shines through into the analysis I apologize. Now, without further ado, I'll get it started.

Giants at Seahawks, Week 9

1st Quarter - 1st offensive series for the Hawks - Giants up 7-0.

(10:44) C.Whitehurst pass short right to D.Butler to SEA 30 for 1 yard (M.Boley). (1st and 10)

Seattle in an offset I-formation, Carlson is the fullback here with Lynch in the backfield. The Giants are in a cover two defensive formation. Butler out to the right wing, motions in with the corner mirroring him. Mike Williams is on the line in the slot. The ball is snapped and it's a play-action bootleg that is run well - Charlie has most of the Giants fooled. Butler fakes a crossing route then runs back out toward the sideline right. He's marked by the Giants will linebacker. Whitehurst fires it over to Butler but Deon is brought down pretty much immediately by a guy that looks like he's twice his size. Butler tends to get thrown around like a ragdoll - he'll need to use his best talent, his speed, to get involved on deep passes and become an effective NFL receiver, in my mind.

(9:55) C.Whitehurst pass incomplete short right to D.Butler. (2nd and 9)

Seahawks in an unbalanced set with two TE to the left, one to the right, and Deon Butler out on the right wing. Giants are in what looks like a cover 3 defense with their strong safety on the weakside, a step or two behind the linebackers. The Giants' middle linebacker shows blitz and the SS moves up to just off the line. Ball is snapped, Butler runs about a 10 yard out route and Whitehurst hits him just at the boundary line. The throw's timing is perfect but is a little high and it skips through Deon Butler's hands. Ball could have been caught; ball could have been thrown better.

(9:50) (Shotgun) C.Whitehurst pass incomplete deep right to D.Butler. (3rd and 9)

Seahawks in the shotgun, 3 TE, 2 WR set with Butler to the right, Mike Williams to the left, Stokley at the right slot bunched with Carlson and Baker. Stokley motions left, with the free safety moving up to the line to mark him. Butler runs a sideline deep route and Whitehurst lets it rip deep for him. Butler is marked in man coverage by the corner, has him beat by a step, but the ball is overthrown by about a yard. Too bad.

First series is a three-and-out, three passes to Butler. All passes outside the hashes towards the sidelines.

Second series, 5:44 in the 1st Quarter. Score is 14-0 Giants.

1st play is a run off left tackle for 2 by Lynch.

(5:10) C.Whitehurst pass short middle to C.Baker to SEA 30 for 7 yards (J.Goff). (2nd and 8)

The Fox broadcast shows a graphic that illustrates that Whitehurst holds the Clemson school records for completion percentage (59.1%), yards (9,656), and TDs (49). I didn't realize he had such a prolific college career. Anyway.
Hawks are in a 2WR, 2 TE, 1RB set with Butler and Carlson out to the right (Carlson split out to the right in the slot) and Golden Tate out to the left. Lynch is in the backfield. Giants are in a cover 2 defense.

Ball is snapped, Whitehurst with a 5-step drop. Chris Baker jabs right off the line of scrimmage and moves back in and runs up the seam, feeling out the coverage. He finds the sweet spot about 6 yards downfield, in front of the safeties but behind the linebackers. Whitehurst hits him with a dart and Baker reels it in, turns up field, and is hit after gaining another yard or so. He falls down just short of the 1st down.

Overall a well executed play - and I like to see the tight ends catching passes. Baker is now gone but look for Anthony McCoy in this role next season.

(4:34) C.Whitehurst pass incomplete deep left to C.Baker. after lateral from 33 Washington (3rd and 1)

UUUUUUUGHHHHH. God, I remember this play. Seahawks in a 2 TE, 2 WR, 1 RB set with Washington in the backfield. Butler is in a trips formation with Carlson and Baker to the right side, about a yard off the tackle. Giants in a cover three and they're stacking the box close to the line of scrimmage, anticipating the run. It initially looks like a pitch left off the snap as Washington takes the toss and runs towards the right side. He's bottled up behind the line of scrimmage but that's ok because it's a designed throwback to the QB Whitehurst, who has drifted off the left, about 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

Baker makes his block for a moment before releasing and running a 5 yard drag or so, Butler has run a deeper drag to confuse the offense. The play has set up to perfection - Baker is wide open in the flats and Whitehurst tosses it to him after dancing around for a moment. The pass sails about 5 feet over his head and 10 yards past him though and lands in no-mans land. Since I don't know the play call I'll stop just short of blaming Whitehurst on this one - maybe Baker was supposed to run a deeper route? I don't know. Either way though, Whitehurst should have made the adjustment, and had plenty of time to, and should have hit Baker in the numbers for a first down.

This play probably stood out to many as a "what the shit was that?" type play, and didn't help in fans' confidence in Whitehurst.

Now, in Whitehurst's defense - and I noticed this on the prior two snaps as well, the sun is shining DIRECTLY into his eyes as he makes his way up to the line. He is squinting noticeably as he surveys the defense so I suppose he could have been temporarily blinded by the sun which made him miss so badly - it's really the most probable cause for this errant throw as Baker was wide open and Whitehurst missed him by about a mile.


Whitehurst walking up to the line. 


There's Baker to the top of your right screen. You can see how bright the sun is there - also it's very low in the winter sky, shining directly at Whitehurst from just above the 12th man flag. Not saying he shouldn't have made the play - you have to adjust to the sun, but this might be why he overthrew him so bad. I remember being so confused seeing that live - this sort of explains it.

Another three and out. Personally, I don't mind the call that much. I'd rather we had the horses to just pound it up the middle with a high-percentage play to get the first down, but this play actually tricked the Giants quite well so you can't complain too much. The execution simply was not there.

3rd Series, 1:52 1st Quarter. The score is now 21-0.

After a very good kickoff return by Leon Washington (big surprise), the Hawks now possess very good field position, well past midfield.

Marshawn Lynch has two very strong runs to pick up a 1st down (plus a facemask on the 2nd run, tacking on 15 yards. This puts the Hawks at the Giants' 11 yard line.

1st down play is a pitch to Justin Forsett that goes for a loss of 1. 2nd down is a false start by Lynch, backing the Hawks up even more. It's now 2nd and 16. End of the 1st Quarter, score Giants 21, Hawks Big Whopping Goose Egg.

2nd Quarter

(15:00) C.Whitehurst pass deep middle intended for M.Williams INTERCEPTED by T.Thomas at NYG -1. T.Thomas to NYG 27 for 28 yards (D.Butler). (2nd and 16)

Seahawks in a 2TE, 2WR set with Butler to the right, Mike Williams to the left. Both are off the line because Carlson and Baker are set evenly off each tackle. Lynch is in the backfield and New York is running a cover 2 defense.

Ball is snapped, Whitehurst drops back 5 steps, stumbles on the 4th but regains his balance, and zips a pass right into Mike Williams, who has run a post route from the left side. The pass is actually a pretty brilliant one - he hits Williams right in the hands and just out of reach of both the safety and corner as they converge on Williams.

In what will become an infamous play and ultimately lead to Mike Williams quitting Twitter for a short while, the ball bounces through his hands and squirts up by his head. Williams loses sight of the ball and the safety covering on the play comes up with the interception.

The ball was perfect - Williams should have caught it. But at the end of the day you have to move on and flush it. I still have faith in BMW to be a very good receiver and I'll try not to dwell on this one too much. In the context of the game though, it was killer. It stopped all momentum, it hushed the crowd, and it basically put the Seahawks to bed, as the Giants would come back down the field and score, going up 28-0. Sucks, because it's still the early 2nd Quarter.

4th series, 9:10 2nd Quarter. Hawks on their own 36.

1st play is a run up the middle by Lynch for 4 yards.

(8:41) C.Whitehurst pass incomplete short left to D.Butler. (2nd and 6)
Seahawks in a 2 WR, 2 TE set with Lynch in the backfield. Carlson and Williams are out to the right, with Carlson in the slot, off the line of scrimmage. Butler is off the line on the left wing. Giants in a cover 2.

Ball is snapped, five step drop and Butler runs a 8 -10 yard out route. Whitehurst slings it out to him under pressure and Butler dives for it, but can't quite hang on. The ball is definitely catchable though - so it's a frustrating play.

(8:35) (Shotgun) C.Whitehurst pass short right to D.Butler pushed ob at SEA 47 for 7 yards (C.Webster). (3rd and 6)

Seahawks in basically the same formation except now Stokley is in the slot right, and Carlson is at the TE spot. He's stands up and backpedals into the offset I-formation. Whitehurst is in the shotgun this time, with Lynch right next to him. Stokley motions in toward the line, then back out to the slot, the safety shadowing him- looks like man coverage.

Ball is snapped, Butler, who is on the right wing, runs a 8 yard stop route and Whitehurst does a good job timing the pass to arrive just as he's turning toward the ball. He's hit in the numbers and runs forward for a first down right at the sideline. A good timing play there.

At this point in time, Charlie Whitehurst's line reads like this: 4-10 for 12 yards and an interception. That looks a lot worse than he's appeared to play. He hasn't played great, of course, but that line makes it look like he's stunk it up - the fact is pretty much everyone on the team has stunk it up to this point - Leon Washington with a fumble at our own 20, and Mike Williams with a dropped pass in the endzone.

On first down, Lynch runs right to the outside for a yard.

(7:34) C.Whitehurst pass short middle to J.Carlson to NYG 48 for 4 yards (J.Goff).

Hawks in a 2 WR, 2 TE set with Williams to the left, Butler to the right. Carlson is in the slot off the line to the left side. Baker in line to the right. Giants are in a cover two formation with the corners up on the line.

Ball is snapped, 5 step drop for Whitehurst. Carlson has run a soft 4 yard route to the middle of the field and stopped in the hole of the defense. Whitehurst zips it to him and Carlson makes the catch, is hit, and falls forward. Good for 4 yards.

(6:50) (Shotgun) C.Whitehurst pass short right to B.Stokley to NYG 44 for 4 yards (A.Ross) [O.Umenyiora]. Official measurement.

Seahawks in a 3WR set, Stokley and Butler to the right, Mike WIlliams to the left. John Carlson lined up to the left but motions right into the slot next to Stokley. Giants in a cover two, but no one shadows Carlson so it looks like a zone. Ball is snapped. Stokley runs a 5 yard outroute and Whitehurst hits him with a low pass. Stokley reels it in as he falls and tries to roll forward for a first down. He comes up just short by inches.

The next play is a sneak - and Forsett pushes Whitehurst forward through the pile enough for a first down.

(5:48) C.Whitehurst pass deep middle to M.Williams to NYG 25 for 17 yards (C.Webster). (1st and 10)

Hawks in a 2WR, 2 TE 1 RB set with Lynch in the backfield, Carlson and Morrah lined up about a yard off tackle in a three point stances. Mike Williams is to the right wing, with Butler to the left. Giants in a cover two. Ball is snapped - both Morrah and Carlson release leaving a 5 man front. It's a clean 5 step drop and Whitehurst hits his first read- which is a 15 yard-slant running Mike Williams. The ball is a tad bit ahead of Williams but is placed just in the right spot so as to not get knocked down. Williams makes the catch falling down and it's good for 17 yards. 

Good zip on that ball and placed right where it needed to be. Well done by Whitehurst here.

(5:13) C.Whitehurst pass short right intended for M.Williams INTERCEPTED by C.Webster at NYG 12. C.Webster to NYG 14 for 2 yards (M.Williams). NYG-C.Webster was injured during the play. His return is Probable. Penalty on SEA-S.Locklear, Offensive Holding, declined. (1st and 10)

Hawks in a tight end trips left formation - with Carlson and Morrah staggered, and Butler to their left. Mike Williams is out to the right wing. Lynch in the backfield. The defense is running a cover 3, and the strong safety has come up into the box. Ball is snapped, Whitehurst with a play action fake to Lynch and looks up to pass...

Williams runs a 15 yard out route but Whitehurst has thrown the ball to his inside and it's easily picked off. The pass lacked a lot of zip as well. Overall, just a terrible throw. Not sure if they were on the same page though - it looks like Williams was expecting a sideline throw and the ball sailed in on the inside of Williams' body towards the middle of the field. Discouraging.

That's sort of what we've seen from Whitehurst - he'll make a strong, accurate throw, then the next play throw up a duck.

Next Series, 47 seconds left in the half - score now 35-0. Worst.Game.Ever.

(:47) (Shotgun) C.Whitehurst pass deep right to B.Stokley pushed ob at NYG 35 for 22 yards (K.Phillips). (1st and 10)

Hawks in the shotgun, 3 WR set, Forsett in the backfield and Carlson on the line left, in a two point, left tackle type stance. Giants in a cover three with almost everyone except the MLB up at the line. Williams and Stokley to the right, Butler to the left.

Ball is snapped, Whitehurst sits down well in the pocket, letting the play develop. Williams has run a short out route and has the attention of the corner and Stokley runs a longer, 15 yard out route and the play works well. Whitehurst slings a strong pass over to Stokley at the sideline and it's good for 17 yards, as the safety comes over to shoulder Stokley out of bounds.

At this point in the game, Whitehurst's line is 8-15, 59 yards and 2 INTs. Not great. But he's looked better than that line would tell you, so at least that's the silver lining. Really he's only 'missed' badly on one throw.

(:41) (Shotgun) C.Whitehurst pass incomplete short right to M.Williams. (1st and 10)

Same formation as the last play. Same play actually, I think. This time Whitehurst looks to Stokley, it's not there so he checks down to BMW, but he's covered pretty well so Whitehurst just throws it out of bounds. It's another cover 3 but Stokley is covered well this time so Whitehurst does the right thing and throws it away.

The next play, Whitehurst bobbles the snap in shotgun, manages to hustle out of the pocket and wing it to Forsett for 5 yards. Unfortunately Locklear is called for holding on the play so it's moot. It's now 2nd and 20.

The following play, Whitehurst is forced from the pocket and throws it away. He follows that up on 3rd and 20 by checking down to Forsett on a short curl route and it's good for 5 yards. The next play, the final one of the half for the Hawks offense, on 4th and 15, they go for the endzone but Mike Williams is pretty well smothered, and Whitehurst throws it up near him, but basically 10 yards out of bounds. Not a great ending to a terrible half. Boo birds.

I'll continue on with the 2nd half soon - hopefully it will be a little better.