It has been said the backup quarterback is the most popular player among fans.
That just hasn’t been said in Seattle. At least not since Charlie Whitehurst arrived last year.
That’s not to say there aren’t people who believe in him. The crowd chanted his name after he scrambled for a touchdown in a fourth-quarter relief appearance during the Seahawks’ home loss to Atlanta on Dec. 19. But there are others in town who insist they saw everything they needed to in his six games last season to be convinced he’s not a long-term option.
Whitehurst isn’t universally popular so much as polarizing among Seahawks fans. Some fans believe Whitehurst is a more viable starting option than Tarvaris Jackson, while another segment believes Whitehurst is closer to losing the backup job to undrafted rookie Josh Portis than becoming the starter.
Quarterback is as close to politics as football gets, the position where knee-jerk reactions can become deep-seated personal convictions.
“The backup quarterback is always considered really highly,” coach Pete Carroll said, “until he has to play. Fortunately for Charlie, he did some good stuff. He won the division game that we needed against the Rams and did some good things. Charlie is having an excellent camp.”
Not so excellent that Carroll is considering a change in the depth chart. Jackson remains the starter, his familiarity with Seattle’s offense under new coordinator Darrell Bevell his trump card.
But Whitehurst is catching up fast. That was clear Thursday in San Diego when he completed 14 of the 20 passes he attempted in two quarters. And he got better as the game progressed, growing more comfortable throwing downfield. Of his five completions in the second quarter, none was for more than 7 yards. In the third quarter, he was 9-for-11 passing, with six of those passes gaining more than 8 yards.
“The competition that I thought would take a month or something, or six weeks or something, has really come on a little sooner,” Carroll said Saturday.
Does that mean the competition is open?
“No,” Carroll said. “Not yet. I’m sticking to where we said we were.”