The Seattle Seahawks didn’t trade for quarterback Charlie Whitehurst with a presumption that Whitehurst will serve as the understudy to starter Matt Hasselbeck. Instead, Whitehurst will have a chance to win the starting job.
“[Whitehurst] is going to compete to see how far he can take it and
how good is he,” Pete Carroll tells Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times. “I’m very excited about him. I’m not
going to pigeonhole him. We know that Matt’s our starter and we’re
thrilled to have him. But I don’t know what’s going to happen. Matt,
Charlie, none of us does.”
Carroll explained his philosophy by comparing it to the approach he employed at USC.
“Freshmen were brought in to start,” Carroll said. “Guys we draft will be brought in to
start. The thought is, ‘The opportunity is yours. Can you do it?’ And if
the veteran guys can hold them off? Awesome. Every guy who comes into
the program from now on is going to be in that same situation.”
But here’s the problem with applying a “no one is safe” approach at the NFL level. College players are more likely to accept the coach’s decisions quietly. In the NFL, if Carroll resolves the inherently subjective question of whether Hasselbeck or Whitehurst is the better man by picking the newcomers, some in the locker room may disagree — and some may be willing to let other players know their feelings.
So the real challenge, in our view, will be to secure unequivocal buy in from the players, both as to the approach and as to the decisions that the coaches may be making.
Carroll seems to realize — and welcome — the challenge. “The key for us is to get our message out there to the players,” Carroll
said. “To philosophically get them drawn in to the way we do things. As
much as this is a personnel league, I think, without our approach and
the mentality that it brings, I don’t think we’re going anywhere.”
If it works, good. If it doesn’t, Carroll once again will be assessing whether freshmen can start right away sooner rather than later.