Arizona rookie quarterback Max Hall will face tough test at noisy Qwest Field
Arizona Cardinals rookie quarterback Max Hall says he expects a "crazy yet fun environment" at Qwest Field on Sunday.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Arizona @ Seahawks, 1:05 p.m., Ch. 13
RENTON — Lofa Tatupu almost sounds sympathetic.
The Pro Bowl linebacker understands the difficult task Arizona quarterback Max Hall has Sunday when he tries to communicate with teammates at Qwest Field.
"I know what it's like because I have the same task as (quarterbacks) do on Sundays at home," Tatupu said. "It's not easy. It's stressful."
Stressful might be an apt description, but Hall has another word for Qwest — fun.
"From what I'm hearing, it's a great environment to play a football game in and it's loud," he said. "They have a really good fan base, so it's going to be a crazy, yet fun, environment to play in.
"Obviously it's going to be loud, so you've got to work on that at practice and work on your silent count, make sure you're good with your communication, everybody's on the same page."
Overcoming the earsplitting environs at Qwest and the raucous 12th Man is a tall order for most NFL quarterbacks.
But imagine what Hall must be feeling.
The 25-year-old non-drafted rookie from Brigham Young is making his first pro start on the road — and his second start overall — with first place in the NFC West hanging in the balance for the 3-2 teams.
Plus, he's facing a defense tied for sixth in the league with 17 sacks, while Arizona is 30th in the NFL, allowing 19 sacks.
Throw in the noise and it could be a long day for Hall.
"It's very tough to audible and that's what we bank on and enjoy," Tatupu said. "When they get into one look, they usually have to stick with it. There's not too many guys that can get to that second play and just keep everybody in a rhythm."
Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt downplayed the crowd being a major factor.
"What's difficult for a rookie quarterback is just being able to manage the whole process — being able to call the play in the huddle, get lined up, get guys in the right positions — those are the things that I think affect a rookie quarterback whether the noise is there or not," he said. "It's a hostile environment, which a lot of teams on the road are, and they do a great job in Seattle.
"So that'll be tough enough as it is, but I don't think it's any tougher because he's a rookie."
Maybe so, but Arizona wasn't expecting to rely so heavily on Hall so soon.
Two months ago, he was in a battle for the No. 3 quarterback spot. The Cardinals elevated him to the backup before the season when they released Matt Leinart.
After a sloppy 2-2 start and erratic performances by Derek Anderson, Hall won the starting job.
"If you'd have told me that two or three months ago, I'd have told you, 'No way, you're crazy,' " Hall said. "But you know, here I am."
In his first start, Hall completed 17 of 27 passes for 168 yards with one interception in a 30-20 victory over New Orleans. The Cardinals also were aided by two defensive touchdowns.
"With young quarterbacks, you don't want to put a lot on (their) plates," Tatupu said. "That's why special teams and defense is huge in road games."
In recent years, Arizona has dominated the division and has won six of the past seven games against Seattle with a high-octane offense that featured quarterback Kurt Warner and receivers Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald and Steven Breaston.
The Cardinals, however, are under reconstruction.
Warner retired, Arizona traded Boldin to Baltimore and Breaston missed the past two games recovering from knee surgery.
"It's a different team than the one I remember," Seahawks linebacker Aaron Curry said.
Arizona ranks 30th in pass offense, 31st in total offense.
Curry, however, said he has ignored the statistics and prepared for Arizona as if Warner was still there.
"The only difference is I don't know if Max Hall is going to take the risks that Kurt used to," Curry said. "Kurt has seen every look, seen every route and every scheme. He knew when to take risks. Just being a young guy, you're not too sure if you want to take the risk, especially as a quarterback because you got the whole weight of the team on your shoulders.
"Some quarterbacks are afraid of the reaction from their teammates so they just try to play it safe. Who knows? He might come out and be Joe Montana."
• CB Kelly Jennings (hamstring) and DT Brandon Mebane (calf) did not practice and are questionable.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.orgSUNDAY
Arizona @ Seahawks,
1:05 p.m., Ch. 13
|Rookie quarterbacks at Qwest Field|
|Since Qwest Field opened in 2002, the Seahawks have faced four rookie quarterbacks. Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman is the only one to leave Seattle with a victory.|
|Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay||2009||Tampa Bay, 24-7|
|Matt Stafford, Detroit||2009||Seahawks, 32-20|
|Troy Smith, Baltimore||2007||Seahawks, 27-6|
|Alex Smith, San Francisco||2005||Seahawks, 41-3|