Why use Whitehurst needlessly?
Of all the reasons fans can be upset with Seahawks coaching in a loss against Cincinnati on Sunday, the most costly mistake came before the game even started.
This game was lost when they decided to start Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback even though former starter Tarvaris Jackson was sufficiently recovered from the chest injury that had sidelined him the last game and a half.
A late flurry by the Bengals bloated the final score to 34-12. But the Seahawks knocked some of the stench off this stinker when Jackson got them back into it early in the fourth quarter.
They had rallied from a feeble start under White-hurst to at least trail by a manageable margin, 17-12.
If Jackson was not healthy, or was in danger of long-term damage by playing, fine, don’t risk him. But if he was able to play, he should have started. Whitehurst should never have been a consideration if both were available.
Coach Pete Carroll and Jackson both said they’d hoped they could rest him for another week before bringing him back. The plan was to see if Whitehurst would come out and be functional, and if not, then bring on Jackson.
But why wait? Why get off to a bad start against the second-ranked defense in the NFL?
The fact that Jackson came on, with almost a third of the game gone, and still passed for 323 yards, proved his readiness.
“Tarvaris did an extraordinary, courageous job of playing under the circumstances … he gives us our best chance,” Carroll said.
Yes, he does.
“As you could see, he could throw the ball well enough to play; he could have used another week, but in my mind I knew that he could play,” Carroll said.
Then play him.
Here’s the only game you have to focus on winning in the NFL: The one you’re playing that day.
The Seahawks started the day three games behind division-leading San Francisco, and taking the risk to fall four behind puts a virtual end to divisional chances … slim as they were.
If Whitehurst had shown recent competence, that would be one thing. But the Seahawks managed just three points with White-hurst at the helm last week at Cleveland. He looked no better this week as the Bengals jumped ahead 10-0.
This game triggered many other valid questions. For instance, did they really call an option run for Jackson … the same dangerous play on which he was injured against the New York Giants? What are they thinking?
Carroll pre-emptively blamed himself for botching the clock management at the end of the first half, preventing the Seahawks from at least trying a field goal on a drive inside the 5.
“That’s on me,” he said.
More appropriately, that’s on him … again. Last year when he ran out the clock empty-handed at halftime against San Diego, he cited his years at USC for making him “a little bold.”
“I need to do a better job and make sure we get our points when we get opportunities,” he said then.
We all bought the explanation then. But good grief, learn from it. What happens to players who make the same mistakes?
Let’s not scapegoat Whitehurst, here. There was a great deal going wrong all over the field: the special teams, the 11 penalties, the dropped passes. It added up to a lost game in what may be a long and disappointing season.
The last two games were ones Seattle needed to win to support its claims of growth. Now the Seahawks go on the road to Dallas and then come home against 5-2 Baltimore, making a 2-7 record a real likelihood.
Yes, they’re still young. Yes, it’s obvious there are growing pains associated with rebuilding a team.
But there is cumulative damage in these things.
Carroll taking the blame and saying he’s got to get better is admirable. And surely the team benefits in many ways from Carroll’s energy and collegial approach.
But players look to coaches to help them win games, and too many of these sorts of games eventually erode a coach’s credibility with the players and fans.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 email@example.com