BRANDON GUSTAFSON

What’s to make of Drew Lock playing solid in first Seahawks start?

Dec 10, 2023, 5:18 PM

Seattle Seahawks Drew Lock...

Drew Lock of the Seattle Seahawks throws the ball against the San Francisco 49ers on Dec. 10, 2023. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

When the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos completed their blockbuster trade in the spring of 2022, it seemed likely that the Hawks had just acquired their next starting quarterback.

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Drew Lock was one of three players the Seahawks received from Denver in addition to four high draft picks, and he competed for the starting job in Seattle ahead of the 2022 season.

Well, Lock didn’t win the job. Nor did he actually see the field last season.

And for good reason. Geno Smith was spectacular, earning Pro Bowl honors and finishing as one of the top statistical quarterbacks in the league.

But the Seahawks have turned to Lock three times this year due to Smith injuries, with no bigger opportunity than Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. With Smith inactive due to a groin injury, Lock was given his first start in the NFL since Week 18 of 2021.

The game overall couldn’t have started out worse for the Seahawks, who allowed a 72-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. The 49ers scored a touchdown the very next snap.

But Lock got the Seahawks back on track, orchestrating a nine-play touchdown drive, capped off by a 31-yard dime to DK Metcalf on the left sideline.

Overall, Lock completed 22 of 31 pass attempts on the day for 269 yards and two touchdowns. The athletic fifth-year quarterback was also able to use his legs to keep some plays alive and avoid pressure from a dangerous 49ers defensive front. It was the fifth game in his career that Lock completed over 70% of his passing attempts.

Lock was not perfect, though, as he forced a deep shot to Metcalf early in the fourth quarter that was picked off with multiple San Francisco defenders in the area on the underthrown ball. The Hawks also struggled again on third down after succeeding on the “money down” last week.

Lock was picked off a second time in the fourth quarter on fourth-and-long, but the ball was hit as he was throwing it, resulting in an “arm punt” that was easily caught by 49ers linebacker Fred Warner.

All in all, it’s hard to be upset by Lock’s day outside of the fact that the Seahawks lost their fourth game in a row. Lock and the Seattle offense needed to score more than 18 points, but they also got next to no help from the other side of the ball, with the defense allowing over 500 yards to San Francisco.

Lock basically had one full day of prep as Seattle’s QB-1 as Smith suffered his injury on Thursday and didn’t practice Friday. Lock entered Sunday with just six passing attempts in his two years as a Seahawk.

What is frustrating is that after Lock led the first touchdown drive, the Seahawks got a bit more conservative with their play calling. Lock didn’t have as many opportunities to work the ball downfield, and second downs were effectively assured run downs for Seattle for much of the game despite having minimal success on the ground. The Hawks also had a fourth-and-2 opportunity in the second quarter around midfield where they elected to punt, and it took far too long after that for Seattle to get back into San Francisco territory.

Yes, it’s hard to drop back and take shots against any defense, especially San Francisco with its defensive front, but the Seahawks’ head coach made it seem like that’s the way to go after the 49ers’ defense.

After Seattle’s recent loss to San Francisco, Hawks coach Pete Carroll told Seattle Sports’ Mike Salk and Stacy Rost that they were trying to take deep shots against the 49ers’ secondary because there were plays to be had and because those defensive backs had “a ton of penalties” against them. Those shots were few and far between on Sunday in the rematch between the two rivals.

Additionally, the Niners were down a star defensive lineman, another key D-lineman got hurt later and their top cover corner went down early. If there was ever a time to challenge San Francisco’s pass defense downfield, it was on Sunday, especially with the Seahawks trailing during the second half.

Do Seattle Seahawks have a QB conversation?

Lock’s play on Sunday will likely lead to questions about Seattle’s quarterback situation going forward. It’s only natural.

Lock played better Sunday against the 49ers than Smith did back on Thanksgiving, and Smith’s drop in numbers, while not entirely his fault, are noticeable.

What makes the situation more interesting is that Lock is a free agent after this season, and the easiest time for the Seahawks to get out of Smith’s three-year deal he signed this past offseason is this just a few days after February’s Super Bowl.

Do the Seahawks have a good old-fashioned QB controversy brewing? To be honest, it seems doubtful unless Smith misses more than just this week and Lock plays well yet again.

Lock earned a passing grade in his first start for the Seahawks. It just wasn’t nearly enough against a San Francisco team that has now won seven in a row against Seattle, including a playoff win back in January.

If Smith can’t go yet again and Lock gets another start next week, it will be another tough test, this time against the Philadelphia Eagles in Seattle on Monday Night Football. If he plays well again and, more importantly gets a win, the last few weeks of the season could get really interesting.

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