Posts tagged Charlie Whitehurst

Seahawks Quarterback and Running Back Grades Regular Season Game 2011-6

Quarterback and Running Back Player Grades

 

 

Quarterback

Charlie Whitehurst hit Doug Baldwin during the 2011 preseason. Photo by Brett Bivens

Charlie Whitehurst (F-)

Last week B+ in almost half a game after replacing Tarvaris Jackson (injury)

THE GOOD:

Charlie did a good job handling the high snaps from backup center Lemuel Jeanpierre. He showed and ability to fit the ball into small windows and get it out in a hurry at times.

THE BAD:

Whitehurst did have trouble handling one of the high snaps. He was throwing into a lot of coverage and should have had more interceptions but he was lucky that the Browns secondary cannot catch balls that hit them in their hands. On his final pass of the game he threw a ball (on fourth down) that had 0% chance of being completed. There were no open receivers at the time but he threw it to the worst possible one. The others had a low chance of success but at least there was some chance. He struggled finding the open receiver and on multiple occasions threw the ball to someone who was covered when he had a receiver open. At the goal line he threw the ball out of bounds in the direction of Michael Robinson but he had Cameron Morrah at the 1-yard line with a couple steps on the line backer. That should have been an easy touchdown but Charlie never made an attempt. He had a lot of trouble hanging onto the ball when he was sacked or at one point even when there was no pressure on him and he lost control of the ball while attempting to throw it. He threw an interception on the play after Leon’s SHOULD BE touchdown. They had great field position and the quarterback needs to show poise in that situation not frustration like Whitehurst did. Late in the game he had Sidney Rice wide open and all he needed to do was throw the ball on target but instead threw the ball so that Rice was forced out of bounds. They still got a big completion but that play should have been a touchdown. He started to panic in the pocket towards the end of the game.

 

Running Backs

1) Leon Washington (A-)

Leon Washington evades tacklers. Photo By Brett Bivens

Laste week he led the backs with an A-

THE GOOD:

First, to get it out of the way, he had a punt return for a touchdown. The block in the back was a bogus call and I am not about to take that return away from Washington because he deserves it. What I will say though is he shouldn’t have been show boating before he got in the end zone and taken that big hit. It kinda reminded me of last year when he was show boating and got tackled just short of the end zone. He needs to stop that. When he got the ball in his hands he did everything in his power to make something happen. He averaged 5.6-yards per carry and was showing his wicked ability to cut and make people miss. At times he just decided to run over a would-be tackler. He showed patience setting up his blocks and vision finding cut back lanes. He also showed the speed needed to get to the edge and that he has an ability to pick up the blitz.

THE BAD:

He only had 7 carries and took a kick off back to the 14-yard line. If you are going to take the ball out of the end zone on a kick off you better get back to the 20 at least.

2) Justin Forsett (B-)

Last week B-

THE GOOD:

He showed his ability to make hard cuts and make people miss. He did a nice job picking up the blitz and giving his quarterback more time to throw.

THE BAD:

He only averaged 2.9-yards per carry and part of the reason was because he was hesitating to hit the hole. On special teams he had a missed block during a kick return.

3) Michael Robinson (D+)

Last week C+

THE GOOD:

On Leon’s punt return for the touchdown he had a nice block that sprung him at the beginning of the return. He had a couple nice run blocks.

THE BAD:

He struggled most of the game. Michael had a missed tackle on punt coverage and one on kick coverage. He missed a block on a kick return but the worst mistake was at the goal line when he lead the running back into the hole and dove on the ground blocking no one. Had he blocked one of the two defenders bearing down on the running back it would have probably been a touchdown.

Seahawks Quarterback Grades Regular Season Game 2011-5

Seahawks Quarterback Player Grades

 

 

1) Charlie Whitehurst (B+)

Charlie Whitehurst during the 2011 Pre-Season at home against the Vikings

This was his first action this year.

THE GOOD:

Charlie had several really well placed passes. One was the quick slant to Sidney Rice and another one was the touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin. He did a good job avoiding sacks either by using his legs to buy time or throwing the ball away. His decision making was quick which allowed him to plant his back foot and throw the ball.

THE BAD:

On one play he didn’t recognize a blitz and took a big hit from his blind side. One of the passes where he threw the ball away he had locked onto a receiver and didn’t go through his progressions. If he had he gone through them he would have seen that Anthony McCoy was open underneath.

2) Tarvaris Jackson (C+)

Last week A-

THE GOOD:

He did a good job leading his receivers to give them a chance to catch the ball in stride. Tarvaris had a few passes where he didn’t have much of a window and had excellent ball placement. Jackson was doing a pretty good job going through his progressions and had a touchdown pass.

THE BAD:

Two straight passes he threw into double coverage the second of which Zach Miller got hurt from a hit to his head. New York Giants Safety Kenny Phillis was fined $20,000 for the hit on Miller. He floated a ball and made a poor decision on another to throw a ball to the outside that had little chance of going well. That ball was intercepted.

Quarterback and Running Back Grades Preseason Game 2011-4

Image by Ryan Gray

Quarterback

1) Tarvaris Jackson (D+)

Last week C+

THE GOOD:

Tarvaris becomes better when he is on the move as demonstrated by a 15 yard pass hitting his receiver on the numbers in stride. He had good ball placement on a screen pass allowing his back to catch the ball and turn upfield without losing momentum.

THE BAD:

His accuracy was a problem while throwing in the pocket throwing behind his receiver on a slant and under throwing a deep fade on a play where Golden Tate made a great adjustment on the ball and still made the catch. On Jackson’s interception he stared down Tate the whole time and could see he was throwing into double coverage but still chose to throw the ball to him.

2) Charlie Whitehurst and Josh Portis (D)

Last week: Charlie B and Josh didn’t get graded

THE GOOD:

Charlie may not be as fast as Tarvaris but he did a good job using his feet to avoid pressure and buy extra time. What he did better than Jackson was keeping his eyes down field while looking for an open receiver and was able to make two big plays while doing this. He was reading the defense well and going through his progressions most of the game.

THE BAD:

Whitehurst had a lot of accuracy troubles in the game. He threw it wide, high a couple times including one so high that 6’6″ Kris Durham couldn’t jump up and reach the ball, he also threw behind his receiver a couple times. His pocket awareness came into question when he felt flushed and ran straight into a defender who was being well blocked getting himself sacked. On one play he threw into coverage when his receiver had no chance to make a play. Josh made a poor decision throwing a ball that should have been intercepted. He also had trouble with ball placement on a deep fade throwing on the inside shoulder and slightly behind his receiver when the ball should have been over the outside shoulder because the corner had inside leverage.

Running Back

1) Thomas Clayton (B+)

Last week Thomas led the backs with a B

THE GOOD:

Thomas showed off his power lowering his shoulders driving in for his touchdown and with a stiff arm later in the game to pick up extra yards. He showed off quickness with a sharp cut into the hole and another one cutting it outside.

THE BAD:

He tends to shy away from linebackers and their presence caused him to choose the wrong hole twice.

2) Leon Washington (B)

Last week C

THE GOOD:

Everyone has seen Franco Harris’ Immaculate Reception but on saturday we got to see and equally impressive preseason deflection reception from Leon. He had a wicked cut in the backfield making a would-be tackler miss and bouncing the ball outside for a pick up of 5 yards instead of a loss on the play. Washington also gained extra yards by keeping his legs pumping and running hard.

THE BAD:

Leon was limited in effectiveness by his amount of playing time.

3) Justin Forsett, Dorson Boyce and Vai Taua (B-)

Last week: Justin B- while Dorson and Vai were not graded

THE GOOD:

Justin showed he can do more then run the ball when he made a nice one handed catch on a screen pass that was throw too high. He showcased his quickness on a couple runs using his cuts to avoid tacklers. Dorson is very powerful and he showed it while blocking and running the ball. As a blocker he was able to seal the lane and had a crushing block towards the end of the game when he got hurt. When he was given the ball he lowered his shoulders and keeps his legs pumping to gain extra yards. Via is a tough runner who keeps his legs pumping to gain extra yardage. He showed some agility avoiding tacklers and scored a touchdown.

THE BAD:

Forsett’s vision was off choosing the wrong hole to run through. Boyce was delivering a hit on the guys he was responsible to block but not stick with the block allowing them to recover and still make a play. Taua lacked the patients to allow his blockers the time needed to set up their blocks and showed a lack of vision when he could have cut it outside for a touchdown but chose to cut inside to tacklers.

6) Michael Robinson (C+)

Last week C

THE GOOD:

On a touchdown run he had the lead block and was able to move the pile enough for the score.

THE BAD:

Would like to see him making more impact blocks

 

Quarterback and Running Back Grades Preseason Game 2011-3

Image by Ryan Gray

Quarterbacks

1) Charlie Whitehurst (B)

Last week B

THE GOOD:

On his first pass he was able to roll out of the pocket to avoid pressure and deliver a strike while still running. Charlie also showed his pocket mobility by stepping up in the pocket to buy extra time and then had the pocket presence to feel when it was time to just throw the ball away. During a screen pass he really sold a pass downfield with his eyes and body language then snapped his head around to locate his running back and had a quick release. In the middle of the final drive he had perfect timing letting the ball go right before his receiver started his break. On that pass he did a good job not leading the receiver into coverage.

THE BAD:

Had Golden Tate open for what would have probably been a touchdown but over threw him by a couple yards.

2) Tarvaris Jackson (C+)

Last Week C+.

THE GOOD:

At times he had good timing with his receivers and went through his progressions to find the open man. He also had good ball placement when he had time. Tarvaris used his legs to avoid sacks and either threw the ball away or got it out to his target while on the run. He threw the Seahawks only touchdown pass of the game.

THE BAD:

Two of the sacks were on him. The first one that was his fault he held the ball too long and on the second he had Sidney Rice open on a slant cutting right across his face calling for the ball but never saw him. Speaking of missing Rice he was wide open on another play where Jackson had time but forced a pass into Justing Forsett who was double covered. Jackson missed a protection adjustment on a cornerback blitz. At times when he felt pressure in the pocket he would stop looking for his receivers and stumble around in the pocket. When he had a blitzing corner in his throwing lane he needed to pump fake to get the corner to leave his feet before he threw the ball but didn’t and the corner knocked the ball down at the line.

 

Running Backs

1) Thomas Clayton (B)

Last week C+

THE GOOD:

He showed vision on the 3rd and short when he broke the run outside and picked up the first down. Thomas was able to sneak out on play action. He made a couple nice blocks in pass protection including the one that gave Tarvaris enough time to hit Dominique Byrd in the end zone for the only offensive touchdown of the game.

THE BAD:

He missed a block in the passing game.

2) Justin Forsett (B-)

Last week B-

THE GOOD:

He was running hard and picking up yards after initial contact. Justing also was able to make something out of nothing picking his way through holes that were barely there.

The BAD:

He only rushed 6 times and was targeted once for no receptions.

3) Leon Washington and Michael Robinson (C)

Last week Leon led all running backs with a B and Michael had a B-. Both players had good plays and bad but as per usually I don’t break down mediocrity on these posts in order to keep it a quicker read.

 

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Quarterback Grades Preseason Game 2011-2

This game had a little added bonus for me because I have always been a big Donovan McNabb fan and this was the first time I have ever seen him play in person.

Quarterback

1) Charlie Whitehurst (B)

Last week B+. Charlie showed consistency between the first and second preseason games and that was exactly what I wanted to see out of him.

THE GOOD:

He had a quick release and showed command of the offense going through his reads and making the correct decisions. He moved around in the pocket to buy extra time for his receivers to get open. He showed poise on the touchdown pass to McCoy. The snap was low and the pocket collapsed but he was able to roll out and buy enough time to find his TE all alone in the back of the end zone.

THE BAD:

On a mid range comeback route he under threw his receiver but WR Kris Durham dove and made the catch. He threw a pass into coverage when there was no chance his target would be able to come up with it. One pass Charlie threw behind the receiver which caused him to turn around. If he had led his receiver it could have been a touchdown. Whitehurst over threw a deep ball but you can see from this picture (below) I took during the play that Durham was being held by the cornerback.

Kris Durham is held while trying to run a deep route. Photo by Brett Bivens

 

2) Tarvaris Jackson (C+)

Last week D+. When I was watching the game from my seat I thought his grade was going to end up being worse because his receivers were getting open and he wasn’t finding them. After going through each play several times it became clear that most of the time he had a defender in his face or was running for his life.

THE GOOD:

On a play action pass he turned around and saw Jared Allen baring down on him. Tarvaris was able to avoid the rush and get outside of the pocket then throw the ball away. On another play where a defender was rushing free he scrambled and got positive yardage. With the rush coming he made a quality check down while getting hit. When he had a chance he showed good ball placement including a play he through a ball up to Mike Williams where he was the only one who would have a chance at the ball.

THE BAD:

Tarvaris threw a ball to Golden Tate who was well covered but had Marshawn Lynch wide open. While throwing a deep ball leading the receiver towards the out of bounds he didn’t give his receiver enough room to catch the ball in bounds. As the game went on he got happy in the pockets and on one play had Doug Baldwin wide open for 15 yards and Leon Washington open as his check down but he took off and ran without being forced to do so. Jackson took a chance deep to Sidney Rice in the end zone but didn’t look the safety off, over threw the ball and it was almost intercepted by the Safety.

3) Josh Portis (F+)

Last week (C+). Josh took a big step back this week and showed his inexperience.

THE GOOD:

Portis was able to fit the ball in a small window and had good timing with his receivers. He had a nice scramble on fourth down picking up the first.

THE BAD:

Once he started scrambling it was like he couldn’t stop. The next two plays he had Vai Taua wide open but never threw the ball to him even though he was looking in Vai’s direction. He missed high on his throws on multiple occasions.  Josh had the perfect chance to make a great throw but didn’t quite put enough air under it and the ball was deflected. As the quarterback you are the field general and need to get the plays off on time. Unfortunatly he got called for delay of game when he let the play clock run down. The last play of the game he gave up and just sat down for the sack when he should have at least thrown the ball up for grabs.

 

 

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Quarterback Grades Preseason Game 2011-1

It took me a few days but I have finally finished grading the players from the first preseason game. This is the first position and will post three or four positions a day starting tomorrow. These rating grade reflect how they played against the competition they faced.

Quarterback

2010 Preseason Photo by Brett Bivens

1) Charlie Whitehurst (B+)

None of the QB’s played a perfect game but Charlie had the best out of the group.

                    The Good:

He showed good timing with his receivers and on multiple occasions the ball was already on target by the time the intended target made his break. When his throws were accurate he had good ball placement most of the time. Showed poise in the pocket looking off the safety to open the field for his intended target and showed toughness by standing in the pocket and taking the big hit to deliver the strike. His mobility was put to the test today and he was able to avoid the rush and turn would be sacks into positive plays including a first down.

                    THE bad:

On a fade he had the coverage on the inside and instead of throwing the ball to the outside leading the WR to the sideline he threw the ball on the inside shoulder putting the defensive back position. Golden Tate went up and knocked the ball out of the defenders hands or it would have been intercepted and on a deep fade he under threw his receiver who had his man beat. While in the Shotgun he miss handled a low snap on one play and on another play he cut the field in half by turning his body away from his 2nd and 3nd options forcing him to throw into coverage while he had a man open on the other side.

2) Josh Portis (C+)

When he came out he looked very nervous and this is to be expected from a undrafted free agent who has had very little time to prepare for his first NFL action.

                    THE GOOD:

Lets face it this kid is an athlete and has some serious speed at the position but he has the ability to use it while (in most cases) still keeping his eyes down the field looking to throw the ball (including the play where he threw his TD pass). For being such an inexperienced young player from Division II he does a pretty good job reading the defense and throwing to the right receiver.

                    THE BAD:

At the beginning of the game his throws were all over the place. He threw passes short, high and sometimes wide. Sometimes he has a breakdown reading the defense and makes poor decisions because of it. He also needs to learn how to read the pre-snap defense and check out of bad plays.

3) Tarvaris Jackson (D+)

This grade is a bit skewed by the fact that he has only been able to practice for roughly a week. Even then he was throwing to guys who weren’t able to play in the game on thursday.

                    THE GOOD:

In one word, LEGS. He used them to move around the pocket to keep the play alive and to scramble when nothing was open.

                    THE BAD

Has a tendency to throw the ball high which is the worst possible way to miss. I saw a lot of this while watching video of him from Minnesota as well. On one play he got “happy feet” and panicked from a little pressure. The problem was that when he decided to run he ran right into the pressure and got sacked. He needs to learn to throw the ball away when nothing is open.

I was talking to Sam Monson from ProFootbalFocus.com (@ProFootballFocus) about Tarvaris’ play and he gave me a nice outsiders perspective on his outing. He sent me his notes and does an outstanding job breaking down each one of Jacksons plays. I am going to share them with you so we can get an outside perspective.

·      Jackson:

o   3rd down and 6, hits his RWR on a crossing pattern for a 1st down in the face of
a 6-man rush. Nice play.

o   Dump off on 1st down on at least his 3rd read across the field against a 4-man
rush and zone coverage.

o   Free play against Chargers who had jumped offsides, overthrows a bullet 25-yards
downfield for TE Zach Miller, who was looking for a penalty on the coverage.  

o   Ugly sack/intentional grounding when he was flushed from the pocket.  5-step
drop, wanted to hit his RWR on a hitch but was covered tightly by Quentin Jammer and
had to pull it down.

o   Picks up 9 on the run on 2nd and 21 after 4-man rush gets pressure from the HB
on the left. Was looking down field until he saw good yardage on the run.

o   Quick out on 2nd and 4.  Read the blitz off the right side and hit the correct
receiver but the ball was a little late coming out and the coverage converged to
shut down the play.

o   3rd and 3 – Dances around and picks up the 1st down, BUT, came away from his
intended first target, a deep route from his LWR who got good release off the line
and was facing just a single high safety.  These are the throws Jackson has to talk
himself into making, or at least attempting.

o   Lofted pass incomplete to the HB out in the flats on 2nd and 10. Looked like
there was a little too much air under it, but the HB could and should have brought
it in

o   Sacked by blitzer beating the FB outside.

o   Coverage sack with a 3-man rush. Clean pocket initially, Jackson  found nowhere
to go with the football, eventually the pressure got to him, dump-off option Leon
Washington tripped over a LB as he was breaking across the field, which didn’t help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quarterback Situation

Originally posted on Bleacher Report on March 11, 2011
Written by Darin Pike
Seattle’s Draft / Free Agency Expectations for QB

Now up on my weekly position reports: Quarterback.

The Seattle Seahawks’ 2011 offseason has quickly revealed an urgency at the quarterback position. A few weeks ago, Seattle had a proven veteran on the roster, albeit with some questions surrounding his abilities going forward. They also had a solid backup with some potential to be a starter, and a young project with a cannon for an arm and good legs.

As the NFL works through a second extension of the current CBA, Seattle finds itself with just one quarterback on the roster. Matt Hasselbeck appears headed to test the free-agent waters, and Nate Davis was released without comment from the Seahawks.

Seattle appeared to have perhaps one more season before they needed to find additional options at quarterback. Now, the position joins both lines in needing immediate attention.

Seattle needs to sign at least two quarterbacks. One will likely come via April’s draft, with the remaining spot being filled via free agency or trade. Many still expect the free agent signing to be Matt Hasselbeck, while others are hoping to see Seattle make a big trade for a QB.

By now some readers are fixed on the current inability to sign or trade players. For current purposes, I’m going to continue with the expectations I laid out in a labor article last week. The owners and NFLPA will agree on another extension at some point today. In the very near future the two sides will be close enough on terms that they will sign a final extension, taking us through spring and a final agreement. The last extension will allow free agency to start prior to the NFL draft.

Editor’s Note: Obviously I missed on that one…BIG TIME. Seattle will have to draft a QB, albeit likely in a later round, and attempt to add a third option once free agency and trades resume.
NFL Draft: The Seattle Seahawks Need a QB with Starter or Solid Backup Potential

The release of Nate Davis seems to erase the question of “if” Seattle will grab a QB in the draft. Now the question is “in what round will they make their move?”

The answer likely has a lot more to do with who is available than what round Seattle would prefer to dedicate a pick to the position. There are anywhere from three to six QBs being talked about as late first- to second-round picks. If the Seattle front office is interested in any of them, they will need to use their pick at 25 to get into position to snag one.

If Jake Locker is available at 25, it isn’t a stretch to imagine him being a Seahawk this fall. Any other available QB would be just that (a stretch) with that pick.

Cameron Newton, Auburn

Newton figures to be either a huge bust or a huge success. Regardless, the cost for Seattle to trade into position to draft him would be too great. I’d rather roll the dice with Whitehurst this season and acquire picks for 2012 and go after Andrew Luck or Matt Barkley.

Blaine Gabbert, Missouri

Gabbert has been called the most NFL-ready QB, and will be a top 10 selection. I’m not sold on his value, particularly for Seattle. There is no reason to believe he’ll be available, nor is he worth giving up the needed draft capital to move up the board to draft him. That, and I really don’t see Gabbert as being an NFL QB, but that is a different story.

Jake Locker, Washington

Locker is definitely this season’s wild card at the QB position. He’s been pegged everywhere from the 10th pick to the third round. The 2010 draft held several QBs in this position (Tim Tebow, Jimmy Clausen, and to a lesser extent, Colt McCoy). This year, Locker is joined by Ryan Mallett as draft day wild cards.

Locker’s positive qualities (arm strength, athleticism, character, work ethic and intelligence) definitely put him as a top five selection. His negatives (accuracy and decision making) makes him a third or fourth-round talent.

Most NFL scouts and coaches will need to rely on film and interviews with Locker to balance the pros and cons. They will need to determine how much of his problems were mechanics-related or attributable to lesser talent on the Husky offense and if the deficiencies are teachable areas or not.

Carroll has one obvious advantage over the 15 or so other teams that might be tempted to draft Locker. The closeness Carroll shares with Locker’s coach, Steve Sarkisian, allows enhanced insight on what actually plagued Locker during his senior season. While Sarkisian will likely be cautious with other teams in interviews, candor is expected in conversations with the coach that helped cultivate his career.

I’ve gone back and forth with Locker being a fit for Seattle. I watched him at the combine and thought he put in a very strong performance. His footwork looked improved, he threw a very solid deep ball and his timing routes were spot-on. It prompted me to go back and watch his snaps in the Senior Bowl and several of his college games.

There was a footwork issue, and my concern with him looking to run way too soon was also reaffirmed. At times, there were outlet options with room, but he tucked and ran before making it through his progressions.

What I have concluded is that much of Locker’s issues dealt with a poor offensive line and inexperienced receiver options. A lack of faith in his targets catching the ball, and even less faith in his offensive line giving him time to go through progressions, led him to take the game on his shoulders. In the first Nebraska game, he tried to force the ball to receivers that weren’t open. Later in the season, he chose to run instead of forcing passes.

If Locker happens to be available at 25, I firmly believe he’ll be drafted by Carroll. Even if his accuracy issues continue, he’ll be a better option than Whitehurst. If he can elevate his game, he’ll be a much better QB than Kolb and could become an elite QB in several years.

I have my doubts on other teams letting him get that far, though. If they do, Locker is worth the risk.

Ryan Mallett, Arkansas

Leading up to declaration day for the 2010 draft, some mock drafts had Mallett going in the first 15 picks of the first round. The financial cost tied to Locker’s decision to stay for his senior year has received a lot of attention. Mallett stands to lose almost as much as Locker.

There is little question regarding Mallett’s ability to throw the ball. He has a very strong arm and is accurate as well. There have been some that question his accuracy, citing his Sugar Bowl game performance. I watched that game in large part just to watch Mallett, and he threw very well. If not for about 18 dropped balls, his stats would have been through the roof.

Mallet made the most of postseason workouts. He was as good as anyone in combine passing drills. He also performed very well at his pro day when throwing the ball. His 5.36 40 time should give some pause, as he’s been called a bit statuesque in the pocket—this could explain why. Still, the NFL Network analysts said he has worked himself back into opening day consideration.

Then there is the other side of Mallett. He might not be smart enough to read NFL defenses. He may have an issue with drug use. He also has a bit of an attitude. Check that—he’s a raving narcissist. This is my biggest issue with Mallett, and something that can’t be overlooked.

It is one thing to lead a huddle of college kids. They are your friends and you run the campus with them. You are all playing for school pride. Many of them have similar attitudes, and those that don’t are apt to overlook the arrogance for a player that is performing.

However, his antics simply won’t fly in the NFL. His dismissive attitude towards the press at the combine is just another example of why he will struggle gaining the respect a QB has to have in an NFL huddle. The QB must be the leader of the offense and Mallett is a long way from being able to command the needed respect. He may grow out of it, but he has Ryan Leaf potential.

I can’t see using a first round selection on Mallett. Seattle may decide to pass on selecting a QB in round one and gamble on him still being available in round two—and then gamble that Carroll and Bevell can turn him around. With his talent, Seattle’s pick in round two would be worth the risk.

Christian Ponder, Florida State

Ponder has been ranked from third to sixth on the QB charts, depending on what review one wants to rely on. He has an accurate arm and good athleticism, making him a good fit for a West Coast offense.

Given the huge need at the QB position, it would not be surprising to see Seattle grab him with their first pick (albeit after some maneuvering, discussed below). Seven of the first 10 teams to pick in the second round have a need at QB; Ponder won’t last until Seattle’s second pick.

One of Ponder’s strengths is his ability to extend plays with his legs. Unlike Locker, when Ponder tucks and scrambles he has shown the ability to keep his eyes downfield and get a pass off. Also unlike Locker, he lacks zip in intermediate range passes, and doesn’t have a strong arm on deep passes.

Colin Kaepernick, Nevada

Kaepernick is every bit as intriguing as Ponder. Coming out of a pistol offense, he will likely need a few years to adjust to a professional offense and the speed of the NFL. This may be enough to discount him as a viable option for Seattle. Still, Kaepernick has a strong arm, is a hard, intelligent worker and is athletic. His legs will help him gain yards when scrambling and help him extend plays outside the pocket.

He figures to be a second-round pick, and grabbing him at 25 would be a stretch. Depending on who else is available on the draft board, Seattle may be able to acquire a few picks by trading down from 25. They have the “advantage” of having so many needs that teams behind them won’t know what direction they plan to go.

The Ravens need WR and CB help, and could be tempted to trade spots with Seattle to avoid losing their guy. That move would equate to the Ravens’ sixth-round selection. While not much, they might be able to parlay that with an additional trade.

The Bears and Steelers need help at OG—Chicago has to worry about Seattle drafting the top option at the position, and Pittsburgh has to recognize they are at risk with Chicago as well. A trade with one of those teams should yield a valuable third-round pick.

The Packers and Jets will likely be looking at DE, and might have minimal concerns about Seattle getting their player. However, both of them should be concerned with the Patriots, as they need help at the position, too. Green Bay would need to part with their third- and sixth-round picks to trade places with Seattle. If a move happens with the Jets, they would need to send their third-round selection and receive the aforementioned sixth-round pick hypothetically received from Baltimore.

Pat Devlin, Delaware

Devlin is also an intriguing option, and one that could be considered with Seattle’s fourth-round pick. He appears to be a well-rounded QB, but hasn’t played top competition.

It is hard to know if he’ll be able to make the big step to the NFL. He was impressive against Eastern Washington University in the FCS National Championship Game, but he’ll need to make quicker decisions in the NFL. Devlin can’t be ignored, and Joe Flacco has shown that Deleware QBs can step up and perform in the NFL.

Editor’s Note: Devlin showed up to his Pro Day 30 minutes late and was terribly erratic with his throws. He is now likely a 7th round pick, but may be waiting until the CBA is settled to know where he will have a shot to play next season…after all—isn’t that when undrafted free agents can sign?

Andrew Dalton, TCU

Dalton is projected as a fourth- or fifth-round pick. He was considered a possible second- or third-round option earlier, but accuracy issues have made that less likely. There is a sharp concern that his performance was centered more on the system at TCU and talented players surrounding him. Seattle is better off using their fourth-round pick on a fullback.

The Rest of the Field

Ricky Stanzi, Iowa, Nathan Enderle, Idaho and Greg McElroy, Alabama: These QBs have potential to be starters in the NFL down the road, but don’t seem to meet Seattle’s need of a passer that can step up sooner as opposed to later. Should Seattle grab one of these options in a later round, we can expect that they are looking at someone in free agency and have their eye on one of the elite passers expected in the 2012 draft.

Trade: Is There an Available QB That Won’t Cost Too Much Draft Capital

Seattle could find someone to step in and fill the QB position immediately. That person may or may not be the long-term solution, though. A lot of names have been floated in recent weeks—here is a summary on some of the options.

Kevin Kolb

Seattle showed an interest in trading for Kolb prior to the 2010 season. However, the Eagles weren’t quite ready to part with him. The expected contribution from Mike Vick was unclear at the time and Kolb was slated as their starter.

Entering the 2011 season, Philadelphia has made it clear that Kolb is available. Trading Kolb makes sense for the Eagles, provided they pull in the right compensation. Vick’s style of play leads to injury concerns and having a proven backup is important for their offense. They have that in Kolb, but with only one more season left in his contract, the long-term value of a few high draft picks makes him expendable.

Many see Kolb as following Aaron Rogers as the next breakout QB. His on-field performance to date doesn’t quite support the comparisons, though. He looks to be a solid starter, but expectations of being a star are premature.

In five starts last season, Kolb had a record of 2-3 with seven TDs and seven INTs. He averaged 235 yards per game.

Yes, he looked great against ATL and good vs. a SF team that was then torched for over 300 yards by such powerhouses as Carolina. But he looked terrible against Washington, Dallas and Tennessee. He had three TDs and six INTs in those three games—and isn’t that type of inconsistency the rationale some Seattle fans use for dumping Hasselbeck?

Carson Palmer

There has been a lot of speculation on where, if at all, Palmer will play the 2011 season. He has stated he will retire prior to playing another game in Paul Brown Stadium. This does give Seattle an advantage over most teams, as the Seahawks aren’t scheduled to play in Cincinnati until the 2015 season.

The Bengals have stated they won’t part with Palmer, but as they are faced with losing him with no compensation, their tune may change. Palmer’s stats were impressive in 2010, despite matching his career-worst interception total of 20. He struggled through a power struggle between Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.

If Mike Brown changes his stance, the anticipated asking price for Palmer could make him an attractive option. He seems to have come back well from his injuries and should have several good seasons left. Seattle would likely be looking at surrendering their second-round pick in 2011 and a third- or fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft.

The advantage of acquiring Palmer is it would give Seattle several more seasons with a quality starter, and allow them to target one of the projected top prospects in the 2012 draft.

Vince Young

I’ll readily admit bringing Young in isn’t the most appealing option for Seattle. His style of play isn’t ideally suited for a West Coast system, and his passing performance hasn’t exactly set him apart. He has shown the ability to get wins, but that has more to do with his surrounding talent and ground game than his passing prowess. He won’t have that luxury in Seattle.

I’ve included Young because the price will be right. He is clearly not going to be back with the Titans—a team willing to part with a sixth-round pick will likely be able to garner his services.

Free Agency: Seattle Must Sign Someone That Can Challenge Whitehurst

There are few free agents that have shown the ability to control a passing game. Seattle has offered very little along the lines of a running game in recent years, which makes life problematic for most QBs. There is hope that the ground game will improve with Tom Cable taking over the offensive line and Darrell Bevell stepping in as the new offensive coordinator.

A rejuvenated run game will offer significant help for Seattle’s starting QB. Hasselbeck had the majority of the offense strapped to his shoulders in 2010. It worked well at times, but had disastrous effects at others. As for free-agent opportunities Seattle may pursue:

Matt Hasselbeck

Hasselbeck has to be the first name on a list of potential free-agent signings. Despite concerns over his health and inconsistent production, he has the most familiarity with the skill position players that will be in the huddle during the 2011 season. He is also a proven winner and is coming off two spectacular playoff games.

Seahawk fans looking for a change from Hasselbeck point to the 17 INTs during the 2010 season as rationale for letting him move on. As brutal as the stats look, many of those turnovers were in desperation time and as a result of Hasselbeck pushing to make something happen. Regardless, at this point the Seahawks don’t have a better alternative.

Alex Smith

While widely considered a bust for not playing up to his draft status, Smith can’t be blamed for all of his issues. He’s been playing for a 49er franchise that has had its share of issues in the front office and on the sidelines.

There has been little continuity, impacting the opportunity for Smith to succeed. I won’t go so far as to say an elite QB wouldn’t have been able to be productive in the turnover-riddled 49er organization—had they drafted Aaron Rodgers I believe he would have elevated the franchise.

The biggest issue for Smith in Seattle would be his injury history. Despite comments about Hasselbeck being frail and breaking down, Smith has missed more time to injury in his five seasons than Hasselbeck has in his career.

Matt Leinart

Leinart’s name has been mentioned repeatedly given his collegiate history with Pete Carroll. While a possibility, and one that is a little more likely following Seattle’s release of Davis, I don’t give much weight to this signing.

If Carroll saw Leinart as a potential starting QB in Seattle, I would have expected him to sign him when Arizona released him last season. Seattle’s lack of interest then is an indicator of what to expect in 2011.

If Leinart is going to attempt a resurrection of his career in 2011, Seattle sans Hasselbeck is a good place to do it. While he’s been criticized for a lack of a deep passing game and his proclivity to check down to short patterns, that approach will likely be a good fit with the offense Bevell will run.

There will be some expectations for a vertical passing game, but Seattle will look to exploit the size of Mike Williams in an intermediate passing game. Ben Obomanu and Golden Tate will be used across the field, and Seattle should look to exploit Tate’s athleticism in bubble screens, short post patterns and in the deep passing game. This approach would actually fit well with Leinart’s skill set.

Tarvaris Jackson

Jackson hasn’t done much to garner extended attention in free agency. His time in Minnesota was so underwhelming that they failed to offer a tender offer prior to the end of the CBA. As such, Jackson is free to sign with any team once free agency begins.

Seattle would be in dire straits if they were relying on Jackson to step in and start. However, Jackson’s familiarity with Bevell makes him a possibility to challenge Whitehurst for backup duties. He has shown some signs of proficiency, and it is possible that a few years under Brett Favre allowed him to grow.

Summary: Projecting What Steps the 2011 Seahawks Take with Their QB Position

Despite performance challenges over the past few seasons, Hasselbeck still remains as the Seahawks’ best option for the 2011 season. With an emergence of a ground game, development at the receiver positions and some improvements on the offensive line, he can still be an effective QB. We saw that with two postseason games following the 2010 season.

Re-signing Hasselbeck would also provide some flexibility with drafting the future QB this April vs. next year.

It is possible, even likely, that a team will be willing to put up $25M over two years for Hasselbeck’s services. Should that happen, the likelihood of Seattle matching the offer seems low. Comments from the negotiations have been that the two teams are far apart on contract terms. If the Seahawks were willing to part with the kind of money it will take to re-sign Hasselbeck, I have a feeling it would have already happened.

I do not see Seattle making a move for Kolb at anywhere near the current asking price. They would likely pull the trigger in exchange for their first-round pick in 2011. Much beyond that is too much, though, as Kolb is not under contract beyond the 2011 season. That is too much risk for a QB that hasn’t shown himself to be much beyond an average starting QB.

There are significant concerns with Seattle giving up an early pick in 2012. The Seahawks face a brutal schedule in the 2011 season, and a poor finish would not be a big surprise. They could be picking early in each round, which could put them in position to make a play for one of the top picks in the first round. I doubt any Seahawk fans would want to see the team pass up an opportunity to draft Luck or Barkley because they gave up too much for Kolb.

Should Palmer become available, he would provide a solid starter for several years, and put Seattle in position to draft their future QB in 2012 or 2013. If he isn’t an option, look for Carroll to open up competition at the QB position. Names such as Young and Leinart could join Whitehurst and a draft pick in competition to lead the offense in the coming season.

Fans should brace for Hasselbeck wearing different colors next season. If Locker is available at pick 25 I’d expect Carroll to give him an opportunity to show he can be an NFL QB. If Locker is gone, Mallett could be the next-best option in round two.

Seattle may very well be looking at stop-gap efforts to fill the QB position in the 2011 season; it could be a rocky one for the Seahawks. Carroll and Schneider will continue their roster overhaul, but a step-back this year may be necessary to set the team up for long term success. The QB position looks to be a manifestation of this approach.

2011 Seattle Seahawks: Expectations for Free Agency and the NFL Entry Draft

Originally posted on Bleacher Report on February 14, 2011
Written by Darin Pike

Pete Carroll inherited a difficult task when he returned to the NFL to become head coach and executive VP of football operations for the Seattle Seahawks. Make that two difficult tasks, actually.

Executive VP of Football Operations
He joined forces with John Schneider to overhaul depleted talent following several years of poor drafting and a rash of injury woes. They utilized aggressive roster moves before, during and after training camp to upgrade talent and trim some excess fat in player and salary ranks.

If not for the uncapped year, the 300 roster moves would not have been possible, and Seattle wouldn’t be in the situation it is now…able to continue a roster overhaul during the 2011 offseason.

Head Coach
The Seahawks were led by coaching legend Mike Holmgren for a decade. In one short year, it became evident what he meant to his former team. During the 2009 season, players and coaches were seldom on the same page. Jim Mora routinely questioned player performance in the public eye. Rather than take responsibility for his shortcomings, he passed blame to those under him.

The team needed a leader on the sidelines they could trust; that is exactly what they received with Carroll.

The return to the playoffs (and notching a win in front of the home crowd) was a solid first step. They have something to build on and significant salary room to do so.

Seahawk fans should have immense optimism heading into free agency and the draft, provided the NFL can get a labor agreement in place. Over the coming weeks I’ll be writing a series of articles on the following position groups, detailing what Seahawk fans should anticipate from their team.

Editor’s Note: Since published, the NFL has endured two extensions and no labor agreement.  Seattle will likely head into the NFL Draft without having the opportunity to solidify several key needs due to their Free Agents: Quarterback, Offensive Line, and Defensive Line.

 

Offensive Line: Let the Controversy Begin

I figured my initial piece should cover the issue that has plagued the Seahawks for the past four seasons. This article is mostly finished and should be hitting Bleacher Report on Tuesday. Editor’s Note: Article has already been published.

I’ll summarize the actions (or lack thereof) taken by former GM Tim Ruskell. I also offer some perspective on the direction a good GM would have gone and talk about what Seattle needs to do to blow open some running lanes and protect whomever happens to be parked under center for the 2011 season.

Spoiler alert: The solution does not involve a Round 1 draft pick for the offensive line. Fans and analysts have mocked Seattle using first and/or second-round picks to shore up line issues; I have a little different perspective that I believe will make the team better now and in the future.

Those of you envisioning a Mike Pouncey or Derek Sherrod being announced at pick 25 can get ready to tear my piece apart, but please keep an open mind until after you read what I have to say.

 

Quarterback: Is the Future Already Here?

I have to think that most fans that follow the Seattle Seahawks would answer this question, “Heck no”…or perhaps with a little more graphic modifier.

I believe Charlie Whitehurst does have a future in Seattle. That job is likely as a career backup, but an important role all the same. I’ll be looking one step down the depth chart and discussing Nate Davis and how he could figure into Seattle’s long-term QB plans.  Editor’s Note: Since publishing, Nate Davis has been released.

The next step must include some discussion on the NFL draft, versions 2011 and 2012.

As for the present…we have to figure that No. 8 is the best option the team has to win in 2011. I won’t do a complete rehash on why Kevin Kolb isn’t worth two first round picks, but I have begun some comments on what Seattle fans should expect in the short term. The labor discussions do play a role here, as they impact the team’s ability to implement a new signal caller.

Regardless of the direction Seattle takes, the QB position will likely be somewhat unsettled for the next few years. As Seattle upgrades talent on the offensive, anything that can be done to create stability under center will be critical.

 

Shutting Down Opposing Passing Attacks: Role of the DBs

I listed the quarterback quandary before our cornerback issues because the QB is the most important position on the field. However, Seattle has a very pressing need to address the CB and SS positions this offseason.

Steps have already been taken along this path with the addition of Brandon Browner from the CFL, but will that be enough?

Marcus Trufant has put together some very solid performances for the Seahawks. Pete Carroll looked forward to seeing the former Pro Bowl CB during the 2010 season, and at times he did. Slowed by injuries and pain, we also saw a man on the field that was frustrated with a body that didn’t respond as it once did.

Walter Thurmond most certainly figures into Seattle’s plans going forward. Kelly Jennings hasn’t endeared himself to the fanbase, but the same may not be true with the coaching staff. I’ll offer some additional comments on his performance and the backfield as a whole.

 

Shutting Down Opposing Passing Attacks: Generating a Consistent Pass Rush

One pleasant surprise for the Seahawks was Pete Carroll and Gus Bradley’s ability to scheme their way into a pass rush.

At times they frustrated opposing offensive linemen, QBs and offensive coordinators. The sack attack they threw out against the Chicago Bears early in the season was a prime example of generating suffocating pressure off the ends.

To be successful during the 2011 season, Seattle needs to also apply some pressure up the middle. The team as a whole logged a respectable 37 sacks, but a grand total of two came from the nose tackle positions. Two…as in one for Brandon Mebane and one for Colin Cole. While these two were solid against the run, they seemed to do little more than take up space and act as decoys on passing downs.

Seattle needs to re-sign Mebane and look to find a NT that can offer depth and be useful on passing downs. I’ll also discuss the rushing defense and what we can expect from the Seahawks to regain the early success from the 2010 season.

 

Linebackers: The Not-So-Pleasant Surprise of the 2011 Defense

When analysts were attempting to dissect the 2010 Seattle Seahawk defense during training camp, one group that seemed solid was the linebacker corps.

The promise of having Lofa Tatupu, Aaron Curry and Leroy Hill on the field together was inspiring. David Hawthorne provided a solid insurance policy, as he played very well when he had to replace Tatupu during the 2009 season.

Times have changed. The physical phenom in 59, Aaranimal, played with intensity but without focus. Tatupu played hurt most of the season, slowed by knee injuries. Hill…well, at least Seattle was able to renegotiate his contract so it didn’t cost them $5 million for him to sit out another year.

While Seattle seemed to struggle across the board in their passing defense, they were particularly susceptible to being burned by screens and short passes to RBs, along with giving up long gains to opposing tight ends. Some of that falls to the safety positions, but by and large the LB crew was not able to fill holes in pass defense.

Seattle needs to take a strong look at this group and find ways to upgrade talent or improve performance. Carroll has his guy coordinating the unit from the MLB position but won’t hesitate to pull the plug on Lofa if his injury issues aren’t resolved.

 

2011 Offensive Weapons: What to Expect from the RB, WR and TE Positions

Following the three aspects of the defense, I’ll wrap back around to the offensive side of the ball for a conversation on the skill positions. While Seattle lacks elite talent in these areas, they do have solid playmakers at every position.

Given distinct issues at other positions, I would not anticipate significant movement on draft weekend in these areas.

Now…I type that knowing full well it is impossible to predict what Pete Carroll will do or find on draft day. Should elite talent be unexpectedly available, you can be sure he won’t let the player slide past his grip.

I’ll look forward to comments and discussion on pending personnel moves as I release each individual article. I’ll particularly be interested in thoughts on the QB position, be it now or after that piece is published. I’m not overly comfortable with any of the first round QB prospects in this draft. I’ll just say there is a lot of potential there—potential for greatness and potential to bust. Big time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quarterback Situation

2010 was not the year of the quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. Starting Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck tied his career high in interceptions (17) and for the first time during his time in Seattle averaged one touchdown or less per game. Charlie Whitehurst saw the first real action of his career playing in 6 games and starting 2.

Matt Hasselbeck has been the starter for the Seahawks during the most successful decade of the franchise. He holds the franchise record in Passing Yards, Passer Rating, Pass Completions, Completion Percentage and most 300 and 400 yards passing games. He is the only quarterback in franchise history to win a Championship game and should have been the first and only Quarterback to win the Super Bowl. He had a terrible year and for the most part looked like he was washed up and just didn’t have enough on his arm anymore, not that he ever had a strong arm. He was missing bad on easy throws and when he wasn’t doing that he seemed to be making stupid ones. We heard boo’s from the crowed at Qwest and chants for backup QB Charlie Whitehurst. As disappointed as the fans were he’s very proud and a competitor and the more he tried to fix the problem the more he pressed and his game got worse. After sitting on the bench watching Charlie manage  the seasons finale game against the favored Stl. Rams and winning for the first time in his career propelling the 7-9 Seahawks into the playoffs. The media speculated all week until Head Coach Pete Carroll announced the Matt would start the home playoff game against the New Orleans Saints. Matt went out and played one of the best games of his career that night posting a 113 passer rating that would have been even better if not for a pass bouncing off WR Ben Obamanu’s hands that was intercepted on the Seahawks first possession and a few dropped passes at important times along the way. Even in the playoff loss to Chicago the next week Matt played well with a 94.3 passer rating with 3 TD’s and no Picks.

The one move I was unhappy with during the offseason last year was giving the Chargers everything they wanted and not even trying to negotiate during the trade for their thirds string QB a guy who had been in the league for five seasons and had yet to throw a pass. A third round draft pick for a guy who was a backup for the backup most of his career with no real game experience seemed steep at the time but if I had known then that it would take that player having the game he did against the Rams week 17 to set up the most memorable game I have been to at Qwest, or any other stadium for that matter, I would have been more then happy to give up that pick and swap the others. They also swapped picks last year moving down from 40th to 60th where they selected Golden Tate. The Chargers traded that pick to Miami who drafted Linebacker Koa Misi.

Charlie showed that he has a big arm, much stronger then that of the aging Hasselbeck ever had, and an extremely quick delivery. He has the ability to hit every throw on the fields and usually keeps the ball in the lines giving his receivers a chance to make a play. He seemed to progress throughout the season but at this point does not appear to be the long term answer Pete Carroll and John Schneider had hoped he would when they traded for him.

The only quarterback currently on the Seahawks roster is Charlie Whitehurst, despite the teams effort to re-sign Matt while they had exclusive negotiation rights. There is still a good chance Matt will end up the Seahawks starting QB at the beginning of the season and the Seahawks are likely to add another QB in the draft. If the two sides cannot come to some sort of an agreement (reports have him wanting up to twice as much time at twice the salary per season that the Seahawks are offering) there will be a few options in free agency that could provide the stop gap between now and when a young QB can be ready to take over (this will be covered in a later post as well as a look at the draft class). You could also see the Seahawks trade for Kevin Kolb (1,197 yards 7 TD’s and 7 INT’s last year behind a much better line with better receivers), which I would like to see if it is a straight swap for the 25th pick. That is roughly the same amount the Seahawks gave Green Bay when they acquired Matt. They could also trade the Redskins for Donovan McNabb (3,377 yards 14TD’s and 15 INT’s only a 58.3% completion percentage) but I see this as the least likely of the trade options. If the Bengals are willing to parts ways with Carson Palmer (3,970 yards 26TD’s 20 INT’s and he is 31 will turn 32 towards the end of the Season). He would provide the Seahawks with a 4 or 5 buffer to find a great young QB and groom him to be the long term starter and rejoin former college coach Pete Carroll and come play for Seattle.

2010 Preseason Game 2 Part III (The Third Quarter)

After the Seahawks special teams gave the Packers good starting position to start the second half CB Roy Lewis played tight coverage on the wideout and was able to get the ball to pop up in the air, after it bounced off his helmet,  and LB Tyjuan Hagler, who on the next GB possession would make a 3rd down tackle on the Packers QB to keep him from gaining first down yardage, came in and picked the ball off. Charlie Whitehurst took over the rains from Matt Hasselbeck on the Seahawks first possession of the quarter and the offense was unable to pick up a first down.

The next Seahawks possession the offense was able to move the ball down the field nicely until Charlie was sacked. This sack was not the offensive lines fault. It was a designed five step drop and on that play the QB needs to be able to plant his foot on the fifth step and deliver the ball. In this case he started scanning the field and the pocket collapsed around him leading to the sack. Charlie and the offense would not let the sack kill their drive and eventually use a page out of the Packers playbook calling a play action pass at the goal line and getting the entire GB defense going one way while Whitehurst and Ben Obamanu rolled out to the other for an easy TD pass and the Seahawks first lead of the game.  After the PAT it was free pancakes for all in attendance.

Dexter Davis continues to impress, beating the LT to the outside using his speed to sack the quarterback and strip the ball. When he stripped the ball he stayed focused and jumped up and recovered the fumble. For all intents and purposes that was the end of the third quarter.

We some  good play out of the younger guys this quarter and those who were unable to put themselves in position to make some plays need to start looking over their shoulders because the cuts are coming and those roster spots are filling up fast. At this point I would say Dexter Davis, barring a catastrophe for him over the next two games, has done enough to claim one of them.

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