Charlie Whitehurst got a little good press following the Seahawks-Chargers game and has already ignited a small quarterback controversy early in this preseason. This rumbling compelled Pete Carroll to quash the notion this week that it's even an open competition at this point: Tarvaris Jackson is the Seahawks Week One starter and that's final. Personally, I'm fine with this. Even if Jackson has a bad preseason, there are many other factors in play that make him a good candidate to start -- and that's where I'll leave it on this point. That being said though, even if we're just critiquing our backup quarterback, I think he did some good things on Thursday and they're worth pointing out.
First up, I wanted to point out a pass by Charlie Whitehurst that impressed me for a number of reasons. First, it's fairly obvious that Whitehurst has a good arm and that's not really something that people have called into question. In this case, unsurprisingly, the pass has good zip and a low trajectory that arrives with perfect timing. While his arm strength hasn't been a concern for most, he did have a tendency last season to short-arm his deep throws a bit, raising questions about his accuracy and/or confidence.
The two main examples cited are probably his pass to a wide open Ben Obomanu against the Giants that went for a touchdown but was underthrown, and the pass to a wide open Ruvell Martin against the Rams that was underthrown but completed. I tend to chalk these up to a certain timidness, which can be dealt with pretty easily and with experience, rather than an outright lack of accuracy, but that's just my opinion. I'm sure people will chime in with examples of why he isn't an an accurate thrower and never will be and thus should be cut (though even Greg Cosell notes that inaccuracy is a correctable problem for a QB).
Regardless, Whitehurst did make a few deep throws vs the Chargers -- a couple that went incomplete off the hands of his receivers (to Stanbeck and Tate, and in both cases placed pretty well), and they were on line, and well thrown. He demonstrated an authoritativeness that you haven't seen much yet, so that is an improvement in my book. You'd like to see Charlie, for lack of a better way of putting it, show some brass balls and leave it all out there, -- and I thought he did that in the 3rd quarter, opponent skill level be damned.
The other reason he impressed me is related to another knock on his play, and that's his penchant to lock onto his receivers. As you know, this is the death of any NFL quarterback and is inevitably what separates the elites from the middling to low-level QBs in this league. Brady, Manning, Rodgers, whoever, all have that ability to manipulate the defense to their advantage, whether it's by pre-snap reads and adjustments or by looking off safeties and linebackers in their reads.
This is an infinitesimal example of that skill, but we're talking about single plays in preseason games so at worst this is a positive takeaway. Doesn't mean much in the big scheme of things, but it's not something you really saw Whitehurst doing much of last season in his limited action.
12:00 mark in the 3rd quarter with the Seahawks just past midfield. 1st and 10. Isaiah Stanback is on the left wing and will be running a post corner (or maybe more of a slant and go) and Charlie does a good job of manipulating the single high safety in this defense.
Above you see Charlie looking to Isaiah on the slant, which occupies the weakside linebacker. Stanback then runs a go route and Charlie does a nice little shoulder pump fake to him.
This pump fake draws the attention of the deep safety here and you see him bite on the route. This leaves the middle right secondary open for a seam-route running Dominique Byrd. Charlie hits him with a laser 20-25 yards downfield as Byrd beats the strongside linebacker tracking him with ease.
It's a simple play really, but it's encouraging nonetheless.
I'll bring you the second example later on this afternoon. Stay tuned...