Charlie Whitehurst: Still Optimistic


A lot of people are skeptical of Charlie Whitehurst for the wrong reasons. Whitehurst has never thrown a pass in a regular season game; even some of the most devoted fans are oblivious to his game.

It is hard not to be intrigued by the allure of the unknown. But that same unfamiliarity has created skeptics, desperate to find reasons to criticize the acquisition.

Pessimists fail to trust the judgment of John Schneider and the front office, even after an amazing haul in the NFL draft. They’re quick to point out Whitehurst’s preseason statistics, hoping something will prove he is doomed to fail in Seattle.

In the preseason, Charlie Whitehurst’s statistics are barely impressive. He has thrown for just over 1,000 yards and 5 touchdowns, but he has also thrown 6 interceptions. His completion rate of about 53 percent is nothing to write home about; neither is his quarterback rating.

But since when do preseason statistics matter?

Remember, the Seahawks were undefeated last preseason yet finished the regular season at 5-11. And don’t forget about the Detroit Lions, who went undefeated in the preseason but failed to win one regular season game.

Justin Forsett rushed for only 132 yards and averaged just over 3 yards per carry last preseason. In the regular season, he totaled 619 yards on 114 carries, good for a 5.4 yard average. Despite average preseason production – and yes, he was still competing for a roster spot – Forsett was very good during the regular season. In fact, certain statistics show he was the most elusive back in the NFL.

Kyle Orton, Denver’s new – and somewhat unproven – quarterback last season, didn’t impress much in the preseason. While trying to fill the void left by Jay Cutler, Orton threw for 367 yards, 1 touchdown, and 4 interceptions in three preseason games. Despite a poor showing in the exhibition season, Orton finished the 2009 regular season with 3,802 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and an 86.8 quarterback rating.

Apples and oranges? Possibly. But success and failure cannot be determined by preseason statistics.

Charlie Whitehurst has far too many skeptics for someone who has never thrown an NFL pass. Hell, I’d be willing to bet that most fans didn’t know he existed prior to his arrival in Seattle. Still, everyone seems to have a strong opinion about how he’ll fare with the Seahawks.

It is time to trust the front office – until they prove they’re not capable, anyway. Charlie Whitehurst didn’t end up in Seattle by accident.

Pete Carroll and Jeremy Bates like Whitehurst’s mobility, arm strength, and downfield accuracy; he definitely possesses the physical tools of an NFL quarterback. Hopefully, his intangibles are up to par after carrying the clipboard in San Diego for a few years. Norv Turner is known for developing young talent at the quarterback position.

John Schneider went out and got the guy he wanted to become the future of the franchise. Schneider first saw Whitehurst make throws in nasty weather during one of Clemson’s pro days. Whitehurst was only a junior, making throws for a Clemson receiver who was working out for professional scouts. Whitehurst, however, left the lasting impression. After zipping the ball through the air despite inferior conditions, Schneider was sold.

Instead of being skeptical, everyone should take a wait-and-see approach with Charlie Whitehurst. The front office got the quarterback they wanted and we should trust their professional judgment until they show they’re unqualified.

The cost was high, but that will quickly be forgotten if Whitehurst develops into a good starter. That, and stealing Golden Tate late in the second round of the draft.

Shaun Dolence:
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