My reputation among Seahawks fans who read this blog and/or my twitter feed is that of the eternal (and sometimes irrational) optimist. It's extremely rare that I go into any season without the belief that the Seahawks will be competitive. I've never picked any team other than the Seahawks to win the NFC West, and that won't change in 2011. When I look at the Seahawks, it is almost always through gun-metal blue and neon green glasses.
But there is one thing that would shatter my hopes of a successful 2011 campaign: Charlie Whitehurst being named Seattle's starting quarterback.
So what is The Whitehurst Checkmate? Imagine this scenario: During the 72-hour window to re-sign free agents next week, the Seahawks either fail to make Hasselbeck an offer or make him an offer he refuses in order to test the market in free agency. Efforts to trade for Carson Palmer, Kevin Kolb or Kyle Orton fail. Then, we are left with Whitehurst, and possibly Matt Leinart or Tavaris Jackson competing with him for the starting job. THAT'S The Whitehurst Checkmate, and it scares the hell out of me (Jesus, just imagine that game against Arizona at Seahawks Stadium week 3- Worst case is we come in at 0-2 behind a very shaky Buddy Christ, and Arizona comes in led by... Matt Hasselbeck. I think I would cry).
Look- I don't HATE Charlie Whitehurst. I think he can be a solid back-up quarterback in the NFL, and can win games for you every once in a while (for example, the Rams game last year). What I can't see in him is the quarterback who will lead the Seahawks to another NFC West title this season... and guess what? That's ALL that matters to me. I don't care about our 2012 draft position, and I don't care about "seeing what we have" in Whitehurst. Yes, we are rebuilding- But why hobble yourself by not putting the best possible quarterback on the field?
I'm on record with my desire for the Seahawks to get Carson Palmer. I think he's a (somewhat) better quarterback than Matt Hasselbeck at this point in his career, and he's 4 years younger than #8. If we can get him for a low-round pick or two, Pete Carroll should leap at that opportunity. If Mike Brown continues to be a stubborn old wrinkly fucker, our next best plausible option is to bring back Matt Hasselbeck (side note: at this point I'm not counting Kevin Kolb or Kyle Orton as "plausible" options, given the high cost of acquiring either player).
Yes, Hasselbeck isn't the player he was in 2007- But the arguments for choosing Whitehurst over Beck are, to be blunt, unpersuasive. Let's break them down:
1. "We spent a 3rd round pick and a bunch of money on Whitehurst- We need to "see what he can do" and/or "give him a chance."
First of all, Pete Carroll should be making this decision SOLELY based on who gives the Seahawks the best chance to win, NOT on the unrecoverable resources we've already spent on Whitehurst. Like I've said before, successful organizations do not let themselves become anchored to sunk costs- This situation is no exception.
Another weird notion is that Whitehurst should get a chance to "show what he can do." Why? If it's manifestly obvious that the Seahawks have better options at QB, why on Earth should we say "Fuck it! Let's just blindly hope Whitehurst will exceed expectations!" If Whitehurst couldn't earn the job in OTAs/training camp/preseason last year, and was at best OK in game action, why should he be handed the starting job in 2011?
2. "The offense will be better/more balanced/stronger, so we can get by with Whitehurst"
Hey, if he ultimately IS the choice, I hope this is true. Doesn't the same reasoning apply to Hasselbeck, though? Wouldn't we also expect HIM to improve his play with better personnel around him? Doesn't he bring the added qualities of experience and veteran leadership, which Whitehurst lacks?
3. "The Seahawks are unlikely to be any good this year anyway, so let's try to get by with Whitehurst/tank the season to get Andrew Luck."
Hopefully y'all realize that if this is what you think, I'd like you to stop reading this blog, stop coming to Seahawks games, just go all the way and become a Titans fan, and perhaps walk into traffic. Fuck you.
4. "HASSELBECK SUCKS! DERP DERP HARF!"
Hasselbeck isn't my #1 choice for Seahawks QB either, but a lot of fans seem to VISCERALLY, PASSIONATELY want anybody other than Beck under center, and that's just stupid. Hasselbeck is obviously in decline, but I still see him improving on his 2010 performance as far more likely than Whitehurst giving Seattle equivalent production. And if I'm wrong? Guess what- The glorious untapped potential of Charlie Whitehurst will still be on the sideline, ready to step in if needed.
Maybe it's a matter of different perspectives on "knowns vs unknowns." For me, I know what we have in Hasselbeck, and as the Saints playoff game showed, he still has the ability to play outstanding football. I am comfortable gambling that we'll see more of that next year and less of the type of games he had against Atlanta or at San Francisco. I am far less comfortable gambling that we'll get a season of mostly "Week 17 against the Rams" or better from Charlie Whitehurst. He lacks the pedigree and the resume that would make me comfortable handing the team over to him.
Of course, it doesn't ultimately matter what I think- It matters what Pete Carroll thinks. If he picks Whitehurst, I will still cheer for the Seahawks until my voice gives out- But my expectations for, and excitement about, the 2011 season would plummet.
What do you think, sirs?