STACY ROST

Rost: All signs point to Geno Smith being Seahawks’ Week 1 starting QB

Aug 23, 2022, 9:51 AM
Seahawks Pete Carroll, Geno Smith...
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and QB Geno Smith look on during a 2021 game against the Tennessee Titans. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Back in March, during the first press conference of the post-Russell Wilson era, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll gave his endorsement of newly-acquired quarterback Drew Lock, and also of another quarterback who wasn’t yet on the roster.

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“Geno (Smith) knows our offense the best,” Carroll said when asked about the competition at quarterback. Smith, a backup to Russell Wilson for the past two seasons, was a free agent at the time. “If he comes back to us, he has an opportunity to run the whole thing.”

He added one more note that was neither about Smith nor Lock, but about what Carroll wanted from his passer – and this is important.

“We need to take care of the football,” Carroll said. “If the guy can do that and we can teach him to do that … (Russell Wilson) was terrific at taking care of the ball and we’ll need a guy that will do that.”

Smith, 31, did come back on a one-year, $3.5 million deal in April. Since then, he’s been leading the competition. That’s in part due to his familiarity with the offense. But for Carroll, a careful quarterback is a valuable quarterback, and Smith may well have that over the younger and more inexperienced Lock, the latter of whom lost a game-clinching fumble against the Steelers in the preseason opener.

That’s not to say the Seahawks aren’t high on Lock’s potential. The opposite appears true: they’ve heaped praise on the former Bronco despite plenty of doubt from external critics. However, there are two questions when it comes to Lock’s imminent future in Seattle: First, has Lock shown enough promise to get a chance to start? Secondly, do the Seahawks feel comfortable handing Lock the reins for a Week 1 primetime matchup against the Denver Broncos, his former team?

The answer to the first is yes. In a close competition, Lock hasn’t looked – at least in practices open to reporters – drastically better or worse than Smith. The Seahawks may not have their long-term answer with either passer, but all other things being equal, it’s worth taking a closer look at a 25-year-old with more athleticism than his counterpart.

But the Seahawks’ closer inspection of Lock appears less and less likely to happen in the regular season opener, which means the answer to that second question is appearing more and more like “not yet.”

On Sunday, Carroll offered a second defense of Smith’s performance in Seattle’s preseason loss to Chicago earlier that week, lamenting that Smith didn’t get more help from the rest of the offense (to Smith’s credit, there were several drops by receivers and a number of penalties on rookie tackle Charles Cross that stalled drives).

That game was supposed to be a chance for Lock to start and make his case for Week 1. Instead, it went to Smith, who didn’t do anything convincing enough to cement his role, but didn’t bungle it either.

Despite Lock’s return to practice Monday, their roles remain unchanged: Smith led the ones while Lock took the majority of his snaps with the twos, per The Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta.

Carroll is scheduled to speak with reporters Tuesday afternoon, during which time he may announce the starter. But if the team plans to start Lock against Denver, they haven’t shown much interest in expediting his familiarity with the first-team offense. All signs instead point to Smith taking the role.

Smith’s advantage, at least for now, is a reframing of the same critiqued levied toward him in his last start: he won’t be the best quarterback on the field, but as long as he doesn’t make the biggest mistake, that’s good enough for now.

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