When Pete Carroll abandoned his overriding philosophy of competition, announcing at the opening of training camp that Tarvaris Jackson – a guy who had never taken a snap for his new team in practice, let alone a game – would be the team’s starting quarterback, Charlie Whitehurst could have gone one of two ways.
He could have moped and coasted through camp, blaming his coach for not getting the nod after Seattle chose not to bring back Matt Hasselbeck in free agency.
Or, Carroll’s decision could have served as a wake-up call, with the demotion working as motivation to get back into contentio for the starting job.
Judging by how he’s played in the first two exhibition games, Whitehurst picked the latter.
Whitehurst, who turned 29 on Aug. 6, hasn’t exactly been Mr. August in exhibition play.
Prior to this season, Whitehurst had completed 52.2 percent of his career exhibition passes, with nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
But this year has been different. Whitehurst led Seattle on three scoring drives in a game’s worth of work in two exhibition games. He’s 28-for-39 passing for 212 yards and a touchdown, and he’s completed 71.8 percent of his passes for a respectable 93.1 passer rating.
Whitehurst has settled for dump off passes instead of forcing the ball down the field; he’s only averaging 5.4 yards per attempt.
One of the reasons Carroll said he named Jackson the starter was his familiarity with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s offense from their time together in Minnesota, which in theory should help Seattle jump-start the offense.
But halfway into exhibition play, Whitehurst appears to have command of Bevell’s version of the West Coast offense.
“You get the book when you show up, and you’re trying to learn it as fast as you can,” Whitehurst said. “Each day you get more comfortable. The eight or nine days we had in-between games was very helpful. We had a bunch of practices, and the walkthroughs and mental stuff has been important to us, especially at quarterback trying to learn the system.
“As many reps as you can get is the way it’s done, and the way you learn things. So I feel more comfortable now, and it’s just a process of moving forward.”
Whitehurst also is bubbling over with confidence. He earned some of that by playing well in the final regular-season game last year, helping to lead the Seahawks to a playoffs-clinching 16-6 win over St. Louis at CenturyLink Field.
However, the Seahawks’ brass questioned his leadership skills when he failed to be front and center in getting fellow players together for offseason workouts during the 136-day lockout, as the only quarterback under contract. Instead, Justin Forsett and Hasselbeck shouldered that responsibility.
But Whitehurst has shown over the past few weeks that he’s ready to take on a leadership role with the team.
How’s his confidence? “Pretty high, most of the time,” Whitehurst said. “You have to, that’s the only way to play this position. …