Charlie Whitehurst Has Earned the Right to Start for the 2011 Seahawks

Ever since backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst failed miserably while starting in place of an injured Matt Hasselbeck, talk radio and the Seattle Times alike have embarked upon a frenzy of rotisserie-style speculation about who'll call signals for the Hawks next year. Overpay the aging Hasselbeck, whose contract expires at year's end? Trade for Eagles backup Kevin Kolb? Reanimate the corpse of Y.A. Tittle? Every conceivable option has been seriously pondered, except for the most viable one: Charlie Whitehurst.

When we say Whitehurst has "earned" the right to start, we're not basing that on anything he's done on the field. His start against the Raiders was an unadulterated disaster. If he were a second-grader delivering the Gettysburg Address in front of his peers and their parents, his performance would be the equivalent of flubbing the phrase "four score" just before being stricken with a particularly runny case of Montezuma's Revenge in light khaki Dockers. It's the sort of debacle that takes a long time to get over, if you ever get over it.

But Whitehurst doesn't have a long time; he's got one more year--a year that'll earn him the princely sum of $5 million and test first-year coach Pete Carroll's confidence in his most risky personnel move to date, the one in which he gave up a third-round draft pick and a pile of cash for the right to test-drive a third-string quarterback with matinee-idol looks who'd yet to actually crouch behind the ass of a 300-pound man in a meaningful NFL game.

We believe Carroll had a clear-cut plan when he went out and got Whitehurst: Keep him in the incubator for Hasselbeck's final year, then release him into the 100-yard world. Based on Whitehurst's lone start this year, it might prove to be a disastrous plan, but it's one we'd like to see Carroll stick to. Hasselbeck, while still effective, is past his prime, and $5 million is too much to pay a backup quarterback in a sport with no refund policy. If the Seahawks go 3-13 with Whitehurst overthrowing his targets by 20 yards next year, so be it. But he's gotta be the guy.

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