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Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Writing off a QB after three NFL starts

By Mike Sando

Charlie Whitehurst was, by all accounts, horrible as the Seattle Seahawks' quarterback during a 6-3 defeat at Cleveland in Week 7.


"It was a hard go," coach Pete Carroll told reporters Monday. "I think that's the toughest time Charlie's had in the games he's played in."

Whitehurst has shown little evidence he can be the long-term answer at quarterback. He has also hardly played. In sizing up where he stands, I often flash back to how poorly Matt Hasselbeck played during his early starts with Seattle a decade ago. His numbers through three starts resemble very closely those for Whitehurst's first three starts.

My notes from 2001 included this quote from then-coach Mike Holmgren after Hasselbeck completed 9 of 24 passes during a defeat to Philadelphia: "We hit rock bottom a little bit yesterday and now you get knocked down and you get up and we’ll be better and we’ll continue to get better and I haven’t lost confidence in him one little bit, and neither have his teammates, and he hasn’t lost confidence in his ability to play, either."

The chart shows stats for Hasselbeck, Whitehurst and two NFL legends, John Elway and Joe Montana, in each player's first three regular-season starts. I've ordered them by NFL passer rating. Sacks weren't an official stat when Montana made his first three starts.

I'm not saying Whitehurst is going to be the next successful starter for Seattle. I'm not even saying the team should give him an extended period to prove himself. I'm just saying it's tough to definitively evaluate a quarterback after three starts.

Update: The ages of these players is a variable I should have mentioned. Whitehurst is 29. Hasselbeck was 26 in 2001 and had been in Holmgren's offense for for a few years, whereas Whitehurst, though older, is learning a new system. The bottom line is that Seattle needs to address the quarterback position after this season anyway. I just think it's important to remember how little starting experience Whitehurst possesses, particularly in this offense.

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