Seahawks QB Battle: Huard on Lock’s fumble, Geno’s night
Saturday was a night for the Seahawks’ quarterback battle as Geno Smith and Drew Lock faced real competition for the first time.
While the Seahawks lost their preseason opener 32-25 to the Steelers in Pittsburgh, both the QBs had their moments. But who enters Thursday’s second preseason game with a leg up?
On Monday morning, FOX football analyst and former NFL QB Brock Huard shared his thoughts on the performances of both players during his daily conversation on The Mike Salk Show.
“Both of them operationally were a plus and a positive on the road, in a pretty loud environment at that in Pittsburgh,” Huard said. “So I think that there was more positive than negative for both of the quarterbacks.”
That being said, Lock had the flashier performance than Smith, which based on the narrative about Seattle’s QB battle is what would be expected. That’s overshadowed by the fact that he had the lone turnover of the two, and a backbreaking one at that, which follows the narrative that Lock has the higher upside but isn’t as consistently solid as Smith.
Seattle got the ball just inside of midfield with the game tied 25-all late in the fourth quarter, but on the first play of the drive, Lock didn’t read a blitz coming from the Steelers. It cost him and the Seahawks as it resulted in a sack from the blindside, and Lock fumbled the ball away to Pittsburgh, who then went on to score the winning touchdown. It left a pretty big blemish on the night for Lock, who had completed 11 of 15 passes for 102 yards, two touchdowns and a 131.1 rating.
“Drew played tremendous for a quarter and a half,” Huard said. “… I found myself super disappointed for him, just personally, because he was so good professionally for that quarter and a half and you get the ball back… As a QB, you’re telling yourself right there, ‘OK, three years I’ve been in this league. What is Pittsburgh gonna do? They’re gonna blitz me.’ You know that’s what Pittsburgh does, it’s in their DNA, it’s in (Steelers head coach) Mike Tomlin’s. So on first down, I better be prepared. If we got a run call make sure I check away from the blitz. If I get a blitz, I got to know where my unblocked defender’s coming from.
“You just have to slow the game down, and in that moment it sped up on him. And I felt awful for him because it unfortunately negated so much of the positive in my mind for two quarters.”
The @Steelers get it right back! Mark Robinson making a big play. 💪
— NFL (@NFL) August 14, 2022
Smith, meanwhile, had just an 85.7 rating but completed 10 of his 15 attempts for 101 yards. He also led a successful two-minute drive late in the first half, which ended on a 2-yard touchdown run by the veteran QB.
Huard said it looked like the same Smith who filled in for the Seahawks while Russell Wilson was injured for nearly a quarter of the 2021 season.
“He played exactly like he played for four games last year,” Huard said. “You know, in those four starts last year he was a 68% passer. It was only 175 yards a game, it was about a touchdown a game, but it was five touchdowns to one pick – you love that, but you’d love to see more playmaking, more yards, more explosives.”
As host Mike Salk said, Smith “kind of took what was there, he didn’t make any real mistakes, he never put the ball in harm’s way.” In summation: “He was fine.”
When it comes down to it, though, it was Lock missing the read on the blitz and losing the football that will be the biggest story until Thursday’s second preseason game against the Chicago Bears.
“It’s just, as I said, unfortunate that so much of the positive was crippled by just not seeing, anticipating that pressure, and then ultimately doing what you have to do in this league – protect yourself and the football at all costs,” Huard said. “That’s the only thing you cannot do to lose the game. There’s no overtime in the preseason. Does winning matter in the preseason? No, but did that five-hour flight (back to Seattle) feel a whole lot worse losing? Yes. So as a QB, protect the ball at all costs, protect myself. I know Pittsburgh’s going to come after me, we’ve crossed midfield, and then get yourself into field goal range and go win. And what an amazingly different taste it would would have for everybody in this conversation.”
You can listen to the full conversation in the final segment of the podcast at this link or in the player below.