NFC West: The Big Question 33010

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Can unproven quarterback Charlie Whitehurst -- the backup for now -- help the Seahawks right away?

[+] EnlargeWhitehurst
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireCharlie Whitehurst has yet to attempt a pass in a regular-season game.
All four NFC West teams have new backup quarterbacks (provided A.J. Feeley fills that role in St. Louis, as expected).

The new backup with the least experience -- Whitehurst -- cost the most in salary and draft compensation. It's only natural for the Whitehurst debate to center on whether he'll justify the investment. Skeptics have it easy for the time being.

Another question comes to mind in the short term: Will Whitehurst's presence help the Seahawks get more from their starting quarterback?

Matt Hasselbeck hasn't had to worry about competition for his job since finishing the 2002 season strong and backing it up with a breakout season in 2003. The Seahawks traded former starter Trent Dilfer following the 2004 season, leaving Seneca Wallace clearly defined as the backup, with no shot at winning the starting job for the long term.

Life is suddenly different for Hasselbeck now that Whitehurst is in position to push him for the job.

Whitehurst's credentials shouldn't threaten Hasselbeck, but his acquisition surely put Hasselbeck on alert. Hasselbeck is entering the final year of his contract. The team has a new coaching staff. The investment Seattle made in Whitehurst showed the team planned for him to start by 2011 -- unless Hasselbeck can prove a change isn't in the team's best interests.

A little competition can't hurt.

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