Written by The Match ups Zone contributor Brandan Schulze.
Charlie Whitehurst is ready to start against the Cleveland Browns this week in an attempt to get Seattle even in the win-loss column.
After taking over two weeks ago when Tarvaris Jackson left the game with a strained pectoral, Whitehurst is now expected to get the start—although head coach Pete Carroll still wouldn’t rule Jackson out.
One interesting aspect about this matchup to consider is the Browns general manager Mike Holmgren. Of course Holmgren will have little impact on the actual game, but it’s interesting to compare where these two teams are at. Prior to Carroll and John Schneider joining the Seahawks, Seattle had the opportunity to bring Holmgren back to the team in the GM role.
Of course we know what direction the Hawks took and at this point it’s difficult to pick a clear winner. Both teams are in a rebuilding phase and have a lot of young talent, and this matchup will allow us to see how that talent stacks up.
Statistically, both teams match up fairly evenly, particularly on offense. Each team is averaging between 18 to 19 points and about 300 yards of total offense. On defense, Seattle has a solid edge in shutting down the run, which helps them keep team to third-and-long situations where they only allow a 31.9 percent rate of conversions. The Browns have been tough in the passing game, while each defense has allowed about 24 points per game.
Had the Seahawks not shown they could win out east against the Giants, it would be easy for some to continue to pick against them this week, especially going into the game without their starting quarterback. In Carroll’s Friday press conference, he said the starting quarterback would have “no effect” in regard to changing how they’re going to run the offense. Both guys can run an up-tempo, no-huddle offense, and the players have responded well to each of them.
“They don’t feel like anything is different with Charlie in there or Tarvaris,” said Carroll. “The communication is really sharp, he’s very comfortable, he’s way more in command than he was a year ago – just seems more assured, and just seems stronger at the position.”
On Thursday, Whitehurst commented to reporters how much he liked running Darrell Bevell’s style of offense.
“It’s great. It puts pressure on the defense. We’ve seen that over the last few weeks,” said Whitehurst. “I’m comfortable back there, know the calls, and you’re kind of in control back there too and that’s nice.”
Whitehurst also praised how well the offensive line appears to be improving over the course of the season.
“Every day we’ve gotten better,” said Whitehurst. “We’re assuming they’re going to play well every week and they’ve performed.”
With Whitehurst potentially having a full game to prove himself, Carroll was questioned on his philosophy regarding quarterbacks losing their starting job due to injury. Carroll said he’s never had a specific rule for any position or player, but it was too soon to speculate on the issue.
“We’re just going to wait and see what happens. We don’t have to make declarations like that.”
“We’ve already been through this kind of situation when you think back with last year with Charlie and with Matt,” said Carroll. “That had its own set of circumstances, and this one is different.”
The injury at quarterback won’t be the only one affecting the team this week. Cornerback Marcus Trufant was placed on the injured reserve this past week, tight end Zach Miller is out after his concussion in the Giants game, and center Max Unger was listed as doubtful with a foot injury.
Carroll said he’s counting on Walter Thurmond to give first team play. Two important starters should be back (listed as probable) in the lineup with wide receiver Mike Williams and left guard Robert Gallery returning from injuries.
With San Francisco pulling off the win against the Lions last week, and now taking their bye week, this is a key game for Seattle to win to show they still have a chance at competing for the NFC West. Either way, one of these teams is going to come away from the game with a .500 record.
Let’s hope the Seahawks don’t provide their former coach with that satisfaction.
Military Sea Hawkers official website: www.militaryseahawkers.com