clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Matt and Charlie's Infinite Playlist

New, comments

A Seahawks retrospective on Charlie Whitehurst's time taking over for Matt Hasselbeck.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Charlie Whitehurst -- so renowned as "Clipboard Jesus" that even Pro Football Reference uses the nickname on his player page, though the man apparently hates the name -- appeared for the second week in a row during the Colts' disastrous 51-16 beating at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Whitehurst has been in the league for 9 years, playing games in 6 separate seasons for 4 teams (San Diego, Seattle, Tennessee, and now Indy). He's essentially a 50% completion, 4-to-5 yards per attempt kind of guy who's thrown at least one interception in each season he's put the ball in the air, no matter how few attempts he's gotten.

In other words, he's not good on the field. Sorry Charlie, but you bounce around the league for a reason. On the other hand, we can only assume he finds regular work for a reason as well, so who am I to judge?

In Week 14 against Pittsburgh, though, Whitehurst and Hasselbeck accomplished something that no quarterback duo I can find has done in the modern era: they both played in the same game two separate times for two separate teams. And with the Jacksonville double-up, I'd wager a wicket they cleared the history-making bar by playing in the same 2 games for each of those 2 teams.

Don't mistake that for a good thing. Hasselbeck is now a worked-over 40-year old veteran who's in for a kidney-lacerated Andrew Luck and apparently held together by the very pads meant to protect him; his best days are clearly behind him. Indeed, his best days were behind him when last he and Whitehurst wore Seahawks unis back in 2010, which is part of the reason the two made it into the same game a couple times that year.

That season, Whitehurst appeared 6 times, only some of which were competitive, as Seattle tried to find its identity as well as its starting quarterback.

The CW opened the season with a game-ending series during a 33-3 loss in Oakland. The Raiders defense simply shut the Seahawks down, pressuring Hasselbeck all day to the tune of 13-for-32 passing for 163 yards, an interception, and 8 sacks. Seattle managed 6 punts and a missed field goal through the first half, while the defense held Oakland to just a pair of field goals. But the second half was a disaster: each Raiders drive ended in a scoring chance, and the Seahawks managed 3 punts and an interception. With Hasselbeck playing poorly and the offensive line making a sieve look like a bastion of stopping power, Whitehurst came in with under 2 minutes left to hand the ball off a few times and end the misery.

Whitehurst started the next week with a hideous performance at home against the New York Giants. He opened under center because -- and most of us have probably pushed this out of our minds -- there was a genuine quarterback controversy after a few poor performances from Hasselbeck during the final year of his contract. Unfortunately, that meant this game was never going to be close. The Seahawks posted just 162 total yards on a whopping 37 offensive plays.

Starting near the end of the first quarter and leading into the second, Seattle turned the ball over via fumble, interception, and interception in a span of 13 plays; they were down 35-0 by halftime. Meanwhile, Whitehurst was racking up gaudy starter numbers: 12-for-23, 113 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs. That includes, incidentally, a 36-yard touchdown strike at the start of the 4th quarter, leaving him otherwise 11-for-22 for 77 yards, or 3.5 yards per attempt to that point. The offensive line was again pretty bad, but Whitehurst's lack of vision meant he ran into as many rushes as they allowed. There was nothing pretty about what was booked as a 41-8 loss.

A week later, with confidence in Hasselbeck restored, the Super Bowl veteran was back in at Arizona. Up 17-10 and facing 4th-and-1 from the 15 with 1:10 left in the first half, Hasselbeck broke two bones in his left (non-throwing) wrist trying to dive for a first down. Charlie entered to start the 2nd half, and after a pair of huge gains, on his 4th play from scrimmage, he threw an easy interception into triple coverage on a short out. Whitehurst came in for one more possession before Hasselbeck -- broken wrist and all -- re-entered the game and sealed up the 36-18 win. Whitehurst tallied 4-for-6 for 53 yards and a pick on the day, but he looked just as skittish dropping back to pass as the previous week.

By Week 15 it looked like Hasselbeck might make it to playoff time, but alas, it was not to be. The starter was reasonable for a half when the Atlanta Falcons rolled into town, but he fell apart at the start of the 3rd quarter, leaving a fumble-6 on the turf, then throwing interceptions on the next two possessions. Whitehurst came in with the game essentially out of reach at 34-10, near the end of the 3rd, partly to spare the world Matt's ongoing badness, partly to save him from getting further injured. Early in the final frame, Chargin' Charlie scrambled in for a 1-yard touchdown, then completed a 2-point conversion to make the score a more respectable 34-18. The backup finished 8-for-16 for 83 yards, which was arguably better than his predecessor's 10-for-17 for 71 yards and 2 picks.

Hasselbeck started the next week at Tampa Bay as well, handing off backhanded out of his right mitt, but he lasted only through the team's second drive before suffering back spasms while scrambling (untouched) for a TD. His clippy companion engineered 5 consecutive punting drives before putting together a 31-yard dink-and-dunk effort that was capped by a 16-yard Leon Washington rushing touchdown. Whitehurst threw one pass longer than 15 yards all game and finished 11-for-18 for just 66 yards. For those of you keeping score, that's 3.7 yards per attempt, rounded up. This was the last time both players were in the same game for the same team prior to the Indianapolis-Pittsburgh tilt.

In Week 17, there was no question who the starter was: Charlie Whitehurst, as Matt Hasselbeck was resting his plentiful pains for the possibility of playoffs. Seattle hosted the St. Louis Rams in the battle for the NFC West crown; the Seahawks were 6-9, the Rams 7-8, and we were all wondering if a sub-.500 team would make the post season. It was Whitehurst's best showing in Seahawk blue. Chuckin' Charlie marched the team to an opening drive touchdown, finding Mike Williams from 4 yards out. He then kept drives alive long enough to eat clock while the defense did its work. The payoff was a 16-6 victory in which Whitehurst went 22-for-36 for 192 yards -- 8 more yards than St. Louis managed total on the night. Charlie Whitehurst, Ram-slayer. Or something.

And so the Seahawks went to the playoffs, and Marshawn Lynch did crush the spirits of the New Orleans Saints before the end days of Matt Hasselbeck in Seattle: a 34-24 defeat at the hands of the mighty Bears that included a trio of 4th quarter touchdown passes by The Bald One to make the score a little respectable.

The following year, Whitehurst was backing up Tarvaris Jackson. Charlie started two forgettable games for the Seahawks that season, then moved on to San Diego -- his second stint there -- before landing in Tennessee in 2014, where he played a surprisingly large amount.

The Indianapolis Colts signed him in late November on the heels of Andrew Luck's injury, and now His Flowing Lockness has made (possibly unless someone else can find a counterexample) history by going 4-for-8 for 51 yards in a 45-10 pounding at the hands of the Steelers, then turning in a 6-for-16, 59-yard performance against the Jags in 2015. 

And as in 2010, Indianapolis, 6-7, sits atop the AFC South and can win the division with a losing record. Given Matt and Charlie's history together, this seems like a scenario that's more fun with a little less Luck.