True to my word, I didn’t watch any of the Seahawks’ first fake game of 2013. I did however read the box score and saw something encouraging. No, it wasn’t the performance of Tarvaris Jackson or Brady Quinn. Sure, it’s nice they played well, but we already have a much bigger sample of games, real games, to judge them on. One preseason game barely moves the needle on “the rich drama of the Brady Quinn/Tavaris Jackson battle to hold the clipboard”*. The verdicts are in on Jackson and Quinn: lousy and lousier.
To me the encouraging part of the box score was the presence of Charlie Whitehurst‘s name not on the Seahawks’ side of the ledger. Whitehurst, as you probably recall, was the original “quarterback of the future” for the Carroll regime in Seattle, back when they traded a third-rounder and draft position for him three years ago. Although he had a few memorable moments in the blue and highlighter green — like the 2010 division-winning “7-9 Bowl” against the Rams and the “Everybody Stops Touchdown Pass” against the Giants in 2011** — he was mostly ineffective (see The. Worst. Game. Ever.). The best thing he brought to the table in Seattle was undoubtedly his nickname, “Clipboard Jesus”.*** So the ‘Hawks mostly sat him while he was with the squad and then dumped him when his contract was up.
And therein lies the encouragement. Instead of falling into a sunk cost trap and doubling-down on a failed investment, the Seahawks cut their losses and moved on. That seems to be a common thread among smart NFL franchises; they don’t get married to particular players or schemes, even ones to which they previously committed resources. An understated aspect of the Carroll-led ‘Hawks success has been their ability to roll with things and employ “whatever works” tactics on the fly. This applies both on a macro, player personnel level, and a micro, game-management level.
Whitehurst is a good personnel example; Matt Flynn / Russell Wilson is the biggest and most obvious one. Two on-field examples are the 2010 upset victory over the Saints when the ‘Hawks drew up the perfect offensive game plan so that an over-the-hill, partially injured quarterback could carve up an overly aggressive D, and the spread option last year. Although Wilson often gets lumped in with Colin Kaepernick and RGIII as an option QB, as I recall, the Seahawks barely ran the spread option until the second half of the Week 13 contest when they realized the Bears couldn’t stop it.
The Carroll era is still too new to make any definitive claims about it, but like I said, it’s encouraging thus far.
Oh, also, the Seahawks cut former Cardinals wide out Early Doucet. The appropriate response to this is “meh”… or a shoulder shrug if you’re not into the whole verbal thing.
*Per “Coach Cowgill”. By the way, if you commented recently, sorry it took me so long to approve. I’m still getting the hang of this thing.
**Some pretty sweet celebratory action at end of this clip. Carroll looking all alone signaling touchdown to the heavens and Whitehurst giving a bicep pump.
***Although I can’t find any official records on this, I’m pretty sure Whitehurst replacing an injured Matt Hasselbeck in 2010 represented the biggest upgrade in quarterback hair in NFL history.