Jeremy Bates will never, ever admit it, but I’d bet he’s a little bit excited about this Sunday’s game against the New York Giants will star Charlie Whitehurst. Giddy, even. Matt Hasselbeck is not the quarterback he wants. Not because Matt is in his mid 30s and at the bottom of a decline that was about as graceful as two minutes of Hellen Keller batting at a birthday piñata, but because Matt is not the ideal type of quarterback that Bates wants.
Jeremy Bates’s wet dream is set in 2008, on the sidelines of every Denver Broncos game. He had a phenomenal offensive line, ranking 1st overall in adjusted line yards rushing and 4th in sack percentage allowed. But you know the craziest part? Denver was 30th in rushing attempts per game, averaging just under 20 carries a game. Why is that? Because he had a quarterback that ranked 5th in the league in DYAR (Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement), a measure that gives value to a quarterback over replacement level. (All these stats come from Football Outsiders advanced metrics). That quarterback’s name was Jay Cutler.
Why was Cutler so damned successful between years being so painfully terrible? Because Jeremy Bates designed an offense that played to his strengths. Having good receivers and a very good offensive line helped, sure, but Jay Cutler is a quarterback that needs the right system; that much is evident. He’s not much of a pocket passer; he’s indecisive and giddy. He holds. The. Ball. Fooreeeevveeeer. That’s because he doesn’t make good post-snap reads, locks onto to receivers, and as a result often forces the ball and seemingly throws more often at defensive backs than his own receivers. He’s tall, very mobile, and can make the big throws on the run. Starting to sound familiar?
Enter: Charlie Whitehurst. Tall? Check. Mobile? Check. Big arm? Check. Doesn’t read well? Check. Can make some laser targeted throws? Kinda check. We haven’t seen much of him, but I’ll be honest: he made a few throws in pre-season that caused my eyebrows to raise. And I don’t raise my eyebrows often.
Acquiring Charlie Whitehurst wasn’t an accident. I’m certain that Bates, Schneider and Carroll got together, and Bates told them the type of QB that he wants. He doesn’t need to have some of the elite skills many elite QBs rely on; I can make it work, Bates says. See: Cutler, Jay. Schneider goes out and overspends on Charlie Whitehurst. He drafted Russell Okung at 6. He traded for Stacey Andrews to upgrade the right guard situation. All the moves support a pretty obvious motive.
So, what does that mean for this weekend’s game against the Giants?
I’ll be honest: Whitehurst is going to have a rough day. He’d probably be lucky not to have an utterly disastrous day. Don’t judge him based on one game, with a whopping three practices to prepare for. Because most fans will. Just watch. The apologists have been screaming all year (and the past two fucking seasons) that the offensive line is the reason that Hasselbeck couldn’t get it together. But after Sunday’s game, fingers will be pointed straight at Whitehurst. Mark my words.
The offensive line will consist of a brand new left side this week: Chester Pitts and Mike Gibson will start at Left Tackle and Left Guard, respectively. The rest will be the usual suspects, unfortunately. Only Chris Spencer has earned his paychecks this year, and just barely, if you ask me. It’s been a that kind of year for those guys. Charlie will be running. He’ll be running a lot. Don’t expect a lot of 7-step drops and stepping into a pocket, because there won’t be one.
Enter: Jeremy Bates. Bates will employ many of the same tactics he did in Denver: moving pockets, designed roll-outs and naked roll-outs. These are maneuvers that Whitehurst can do, and has done quite well (at least in pre-season), being as mobile as he is. My buddy and I texted back and forth about this. He said that Whitehurst would be rendered into “QB paste”. I don’t think so, honestly. Jeremy Bates is a brilliant offensive coordinator, and he’s very successfully executed schemes designed to protect mobile quarterbacks. Seattle didn’t have an answer for Oakland’s fearsome, near-elite interior combo of Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly. The Giants’ interior line isn’t as good. And there are ways to defend against elite edge rushers (at the cost of offensive effectiveness, yes, but at least the QB isn’t being destroyed).
What will we see on Sunday? God only knows. I think we’re going to see the future of the Seahawks’ offense. I think we’ll see some damned cool, creative downfield passes (a few will succeed, most probably won’t). I think we’ll see the Giants get punished a few times for stacking the box like those Budweiser Warriors in Oakland. I think we’ll see a quarterback that acts like the quarterback that Jeremy Bates wants, but probably not the quarterback Jeremy Bates wants. I mean come on: does anyone really think Charlie Whitehurst is the future of the Seattle Seahawks?
I’m an optimistic guy, but above all I’m a realist. Screw it. Go get em, Charlie!