Charlie Whitehurst is not the answer at backup quarterback

The San Diego Chargers needed to improve on their backup quarterback situation going into the 2012 season in case Philip Rivers gets injured.  Billy Volek will be 36 years old by the start of the season, has not played significant minutes for a team since 2009, has not started a game since 2005 and has a career record of 3-7.  The Chargers decided to sign Charlie Whitehurst to a two year deal worth $4 million and release Volek.  Whitehurst will be 30 years old at the start of the season which is a positive in terms of getting younger at the position, but this is a questionable move.

In the nine games that he threw a pass and the four games he started, Whitehurst has compiled a 1-3 record with three touchdowns, four interceptions and a completion percentage of 54.2.  Volek in comparison threw 27 TDs and 15 INTs for his career while completing 60 percent of his passes.  I think San Diego saw what happened to Indianapolis when they decided to go with Kerry Collins as their primary backup after Peyton Manning’s surgeries. This is understandable as having an aging backup or starter could be disastrous depending on the QB and the team. However, there were other options to pursue who could have solidified San Diego’s backup spot.

Jason Campbell and Kyle Orton got average salaries of $3.5 million each from Chicago and Dallas.  Campbell’s deal is for one season while Orton’s is for three.  Campbell has a career winning percentage of .443 with a 31-39 record which is not great, but better than Whitehurst’s .250 winning percentage.  Campbell has also thrown 74 TDs and 50 INTs for his career while completing about 61 percent of his passes. Orton has thrown 80 TDs and 57 INTs for his career with a 35-34 record which is a .507 winning percentage and completed 58 percent of his passes. David Garrard was also an option at backup.  Garrard has a 39-37 career record which is a .513 winning percentage with 89 TDs, 54 INTs and completed about 62 percent of his passes.


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  • Chargers Fan

    Whitehurst knows our Offense and is comfortable within the system. He is familiar with Norv’s philosophy and personnel. It may not show, but the Chargers (and a handful of other teams in the league) have always felt Charlie has the physical tools and mental makeup to be successful. Besides, Volek was due to make both a $750,000 bonus (hit against this year’s cap) and count $3.5 million against next year’s cap. Rivers has been very durable so they’re banking on him making it thru the season all while saving just over $2 million over two years by changing who holds the clipboard on the sidelines, I’d say it’s fairly smart. When it’s all said in done this may not be the most flashy move, but it was obviously a move that the Chargers organization was very comfortable making given it’s history with said player. I think the GM, HC and the rest of the Front Office know what is best for our team. We will eventually draft the heir apparent to PR when the time comes, for now we’re just filling the roster like everyone else with the most logical moves.

    Yes they could have brought any of the names you mentioned who have some better career numbers but they’d probably be just as effective if not worse than Charlie given that they’re in a whole new system. Honestly, Whitehurst was never fully given the reigns and complete trust in Seattle. I don’t believe Carol ever gave him the opportunity he gave T. Jackson and look how that played out. C’mon, had Charile been given the reigns an entire season I’m sure he would’ve turned things around. Very few QBs’ are successful in a QB carousel, let alone their first season under a new Head Coach, different personnel and a foreign Playbook.

    • Kenny Gardner

      I agree that he knows the system and has already spent time with the team. I also agree that Volek needed to go. I just think the other options made more sense because their careers are not based on what ifs.

  • Brian

    I think Whitehurst is a FINE back-up to sign. He knows the system, and has the talent. Pulling out numbers as the QB for the Seahawks is a poor measure by which to compare with other players. The Chargers have more talent in the backfield, running routes, and blocking up front. I bet drafting another backup QB is on the April agenda, but in the meantime, it’s good to have a guy like Whitehurst don the headset for a season or two while the new kid gets up to speed.

    • Kenny Gardner

      The players I compared him to besides Orton have not exactly had the best help either at the receiver position. The most receiving yards one of Garrard’s teammates had in a season from 2006-2010 were Sims-Walker’s 869 yards in 2009, and Garrard had a Pro Bowl appearance during that time frame. Campbell had Moss’ 1,044 receiving yards in 2008, but in the 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons, Heyward-Bey’s 975 yards were the most by any of Campbell’s teammates in a year. I agree that he knows the system as Whitehurst was with the team from 2006-2009, but still feel as though there were better options. We will see what happens as I am not completely discounting Whitehurst if something happens to Rivers.

    • Tony P.

      Whitehurst was abused by the Seattle media and fans, I know, I live there. He has a good arm, but cannot just come off the bench and play well. He needs the keys and a couple of games to get up to speed. He played a superb game against St. Louis at the end of the 2010 season to put Seattle in the playoffs. See my thoughts about what makes a good backup, below.

      • Kenny Gardner

        Hasselbeck was coming off of two seasons in which he combined for 22 touchdowns and 27 interceptions before Whitehurst got there and threw 12 TDs with 17 INTs in Whitehurst’s first season with Seattle. Jackson threw 24 TDs and 22 INTs in his career before signing with Seattle and had a 10-10 career record before last season, so if he is not good enough to start over them, he may not ever get the keys as Whitehurst will be 30 years old when the season starts. I would not call completing 61 percent of his passes for 192 yards and one TD at home against an average St. Louis defense a superb game.

        • Tony P.

          Compared to his prior starts, Charlie played a good game in a must win situation against St. Louis, 22/36 0 int is a good line. This was the same St Louis that was exposed in the 2011 season, but he still a good job of guarding the ball and hitting receivers. I still say Charlie goes down as a one-game wonder for that win. My fellow fans here in Seattle have a little amnesia. But Charlie will never get the keys I agree with that. Unless the number one goes out for the season.

          • Kenny Gardner

            I completely agree with you that it was a must win situation and he did a good job because it is always a positive when the QB does not throw INTs.

  • JC

    this seems like AJ Smith blowing a raspberry to remind everyone he got the better end of this trade. I had figured Charlie’s post Seattle career might be in the CFL, especially after that 6-3 loss in Cleveland, his last full game under center.

    • Kenny Gardner

      Lol his line for that game looked like some of Rex Grossman’s games on the Bears

  • Tony P.

    The last game Whitehurst started for Seattle was the final regular season game of 2010. Charlie came up big and put the Seahawks in the playoffs, setting the stage for the upset of New Orleans the following week. Seattle did not want to play him in 2011 due to the inadequacies of the offensive line. Even at the age of 30, he yet might have some potential as an NFL QB. If he does not reach it, he still goes down as a one-game wonder. What’s wrong with making $4 million a year for holding clipboard on Sunday afternoon?

    • Kenny Gardner

      There is nothing wrong with it from Whitehurst’s prospective, but I think the Chargers could have done a better job in finding a backup to Rivers.

      • Tony P.

        Just saying. He was not as bad as the people here in Washington said he was

        The problem with Whitehurst is that he is the opposite of a backup. A good backup is someone who start fasts, but may fade after too much exsposure. Charlie has to play, and then he gets better. He improved tremendously over three starts for Seattle in 2010. He does have a good arm, but I think, if nothing else, he will never get the chance to play regularly in the NFL. The coaching staffs know more about his liabilities than the fans or sportswriters do, I am sure. No, not a good backup. And not good enough to be a playoff team’s answer as a starting QB either.

        • Kenny Gardner

          True