With Hasselbeck struggling, could Whitehurst be the answer?

Oct 3, 2010, 6:37 PM | Updated: Apr 4, 2011, 7:55 pm

By Jim Moore

I suppose there’s more of a reason to look at the Seahawks’ 20-3 loss to St. Louis in a negative light – they were smacked by the Rams for God’s sake, a team they’d beaten 10 times in a row. And St. Louis is the one city where the Seahawks had been able to win road games until Sunday.

But the defeat wasn’t that surprising to me. The Seahawks aren’t the same team away from Qwest Field, and the Rams, with Sam Bradford, aren’t the same slouches they used to be. Pointspreads are used for gambling purposes, but they can also indicate how closely two teams match up.

In this game, the Seahawks were favored by only two points so it’s not as much of a shocker that St. Louis won as it would have been if the Lions, as 14.5 point underdogs, had beaten Green Bay.

Then again, the Rams shouldn’t have won by 17 points either. That’s inexcusable. But it happened because the Seahawks couldn’t generate much in the way of offense.

This isn’t a new development, and it’s not isolated to struggles on the road. Two weeks ago in Denver, the Seahawks did not score until the third quarter, and that was after a 22-yard drive. Their longest drive, an 80-yarder, was capped by a touchdown when it didn’t matter anymore – the Hawks were trailing 31-7 in an eventual 31-14 loss.

Then last week against San Diego, they won 27-20, but only because of Leon Washington’s two kickoff returns for touchdowns. Offensively, the Seahawks had one touchdown, that following another short drive of 41 yards in the second quarter.

HASSRAMSNaturally, Matt Hasselbeck is blamed for these problems, but you can also point to the sputtering running game and the makeshift offensive line as other culprits. Hasselbeck is also adjusting to new receivers and a new scheme, but those sound more like excuses than reasons why the Seahawks can’t put together long drives anymore.

To this point I’ve always been fully supportive of Hasselbeck because I’ve felt that his issues stem more from being hurt and having a subpar offensive line than anything to do with his attributes as a quarterback.

But that opinion is changing. He has more interceptions than touchdown passes this season, continuing a three-year trend. He still makes good throws, just not as many as he used to. And when he makes a bad throw, which happens at least a few times a game now, they’re not just slightly bad, they’re brutal.

On Sunday, I can’t think of anything that stood out as particularly terrible – although I’m sure you could come up with several examples of your own – but there was one fourth quarter throw that he short-hopped to Brandon Stokley that should have been made. Hasselbeck avoided a rush and had a wide-open view of Stokley but threw a duck of a pass.

He also had a strange day in which three of his passes were tipped at the line of scrimmage, one of which was intercepted, and he lost a late fumble after getting hit in the pocket.

Hasselbeck had a not-so-good quarterback rating of 59 in the game. He turned 35 last Saturday and doesn’t seem to have the arm strength he used to have. That’s the biggest rap on him, and his critics might be right.

Coach Pete Carroll said he didn’t consider yanking Hasselbeck and replacing him with Charlie Whitehurst, but if the Seahawks’ offense continues at this rate, the backup quarterback may be beckoned soon.

I’m not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, I don’t know how it could hurt, seeing what Whitehurst could give you. Maybe he’d light it up and lead the Seahawks to the Super Bowl. Maybe he’d be awful, then everyone could quit yearning for him. Or maybe he’d be somewhere in between.

I keep thinking that this guy wasn’t even a backup in San Diego – he was the backup to the backup, a third-stringer behind Philip Rivers and Billy Volek, so how good can he really be? Then again, he hasn’t had the opportunity to show it – believe it or not, Whitehurst has not thrown a pass in a regular-season game.

And Carroll has said that he completely backs Hasselbeck, never wavering with his comments. To me, in terms of quarterback strengths and weaknesses, it indicates that Hasselbeck is so far ahead of Whitehurst that there shouldn’t even be a debate.

I was reading a comment to a Greg Johns story at seattlepi.com and found it to be interestingly ironic – the unregistered user said: “It’s funny how Carroll’s philosophy about competitiveness applies to every position on the team except quarterback.”

Not sure what gives there, but maybe it’s because Whitehurst isn’t ready, and that the best of Charlie still might not be good enough to beat out the worst of Matt. Heck, I could be way off-base on that, but there’s a bigger and bigger part of me that would like to see what our very own Jesus look-a-like could do as a potential savior for the Seahawks.

I don’t know how the host of “The Kevin Calabro Show” feels about it, but you can find out on Monday from 3 to 6 p.m. I can’t be too critical of the team overall – the Seahawks are 2-2 and have a bye next week. They’re better than I thought they’d be – I had them pegged for 1-3 and heading nowhere.

Instead, they’re 2-2 and in a three-way tie for first in the NFC West with the Cardinals, who look worse than the Seahawks after getting blown out in San Diego, and the Rams, who could win this dogmeat of a division. Then there are the 0-4 49ers – how would you like to be following the NFC West preseason favorites?

Plain and simple, the Seahawks aren’t as good as they looked in their wins at home, and not as bad as they appeared in their losses on the road. They’re somewhere in the middle, on track for a 7-9, 8-8 or 9-7 season that’s perfectly acceptable in a rebuilding year.

ONE MORE THING: What was Junior Siavii thinking when he celebrated his tackle of Steven Jackson behind the line of scrimmage by taking his helmet off? Surely he knows that when you take your helmet off, you’re going to be flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. That’s 15 yards for being an idiot. Hey, Junior, can’t you just be satisfied with making a nice play and acting like you’ve made plays like that before? Isn’t that what they’re paying you to do? If the Seahawks have a kangaroo court, I’d fine him the maximum amount allowed.

Jim Moore also writes for seattlepi.com and can be reached at [email protected].

Wyman & Bob

Wyman and Bob

Mariners Cal Raleigh...
Brent Stecker

Teammate of Cal Raleigh raves about Mariners hero’s big leap forward

"We don't have enough time for me to give all the compliments I can give to Cal Raleigh this season," Mariners pitcher Paul Sewald told Wyman and Bob.
2 days ago
Mariners Paul Sewald...
Brent Stecker

Mariners’ Paul Sewald: T-Mobile Park had different feeling before clincher

"The second I got to the field, this whole place just felt differently," Mariners pitcher Paul Sewald said about Friday to Wyman and Bob.
3 days ago
Mariners Cal Raleigh...
SeattleSports.com Staff

Mariners Breakdown: The drought is over — their biggest win ever?

Did we just witness the biggest moment in Mariners history? Bob Stelton reacts to that, the end of the drought and much more in his latest M's breakdown video.
3 days ago
Mariners Carlos Santana...
Brent Stecker

Why Mariners’ Carlos Santana will be an important player in playoffs

As MLB Network's Jon Morosi points out, Mariners slugger Carlos Santana brings a few things to the table Seattle will need in October.
5 days ago
Mariners Jarred Kelenic...
Brandon Gustafson

Is Mariners’ Jarred Kelenic back for good? 3 MLB insiders weigh in

Jarred Kelenic has produced in his short time back with the Mariners from Triple-A. We look at what MLB insiders Mike Blowers, Jeff Passan and Jon Morosi have to say about him.
7 days ago
Seahawks Geno Smith...
Brent Stecker

Seahawks Football 101: Correcting a pair of basic mistakes

Former NFL linebacker Dave Wyman breaks down a Seahawks play each on offense and defense from last Sunday's loss to the Falcons.
8 days ago
With Hasselbeck struggling, could Whitehurst be the answer?