Rost: If Seahawks have a QB battle, here’s what they can’t do

May 21, 2024, 8:20 AM

Seattle Seahawks QB Geno Smith quarterback...

Geno Smith of the Seattle Seahawks warms up prior to a 2023 game against Pittsburgh. (Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

(Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks are in a unique situation with two quarterbacks on their roster who were full-time starters last year.

Ex-scout hopes Seahawks open up QB competition between Geno, Howell

Geno Smith, who resurrected his career as Seattle’s starting quarterback the past two seasons, remains the starter at this point. Seahawks general manager John Schneider said as much back in March, reaffirming Smith’s status as QB No. 1 just hours after they traded draft picks to acquire 23-year-old quarterback Sam Howell from the Washington Commanders. Smith’s production dipped last season after a breakout 2022, but he still finished 14th in ESPN’s QBR, even while playing behind an offensive line that was decimated by injuries.

However, it’s possible that Howell could push the 33-year-old Smith for the starting job at some point – whether that’s during a quarterback competition in training camp or during the season if Smith struggles. Howell, a 2022 fifth-round pick, started all 17 games for the Commanders last year. By giving up draft capital for Howell, the Seahawks clearly see upside in the young QB, who at one point was being discussed as a potential No. 1 overall pick before his stock fell in his junior season at North Carolina.

During Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy last Friday, Stacy Rost discussed the possibility of a quarterback battle in Seattle. She also gave a warning: If the Seahawks at some point end up starting Howell over Smith, they can’t go back on that later. Rost referenced the debacle that occurred last season with the New York Jets, who benched starting quarterback Zach Wilson for the third time in 13 months before giving him back the job just two weeks later.

“You can’t bench Geno and bring him back, because what that ends up being is a hot mess express,” Rost said. “A lot of teams in the NFL have some questions around their starters. Geno isn’t the only one, and I think Geno is a fine starter. I think he gets some undeserved hate. (But) no one wants to be in a place where the Jets were last year, where Zach Wilson is being called on to start again, and it’s like, ‘Um, excuse you? Like, you guys have crushed my confidence, the rest of the team doesn’t believe in me, and now you want me to come in and start a game for you?’

“And I think it’s easy for people to go, ‘Well, you’re part of a team, suck it up. Like, just deal with it.’ But that’s not how real people work. That’s not how competitive people work. … So if you bench Geno and bring him back – I’m telling you right now, this is not to discredit Geno – the quarterback you bring back after you benched him is not exactly the same person. And neither is the team around him, because they have all seen you make a decision.”

The advantage Seahawks QB Geno Smith has over Sam Howell

Show producer Curtis Rogers, who was filling in for co-host Michael Bumpus, agreed with Rost’s view.

“You are setting yourself up for failure if you are wishy-washy at all about your quarterback,” Rogers said. “You have to make sure that the quarterback leaving training camp that you have named your starter recognizes that they’re the starter and that the rest of the team recognizes that they’re the starter.

“Conversely, if you do make a switch mid-season, there’s no going back on that. Like, you cannot then say, ‘Oh, well, Sam’s our starting quarterback for now. We may go back.’ Like, then who does your locker room look to? Because then you’re going to split it up into camps. You’re gonna split it up into half your locker room being for Sam Howell and half your locker room being for Geno Smith. And that creates a very toxic environment – one where there’s going to be no winners involved. As the saying goes, if you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one.”

Rost clarified that this isn’t a reason not to open up the quarterback competition.

“This isn’t me saying, ‘Geno has to definitively be your starter because he was here first.’ This team’s making the decision. Whatever decision they make is the right one for them. They know infinitely more than we do,” Rost said. “But we have, as football fans, seen quarterback carousels always fail. There is no quarterback carousel that’s been like, ‘Oh, that worked out.’

“The most successful example where (Nick) Foles won a Super Bowl with Philadelphia is because your starter was down for the year and you had this incredible team around him, and it was really more of a rallying around the backup coming in to help everyone. Otherwise, this always fails. This is not something that’s successful. So, pick your starter, stick with him and don’t change it.”

Listen to the full conversation from Friday’s Bump and Stacy in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post. Bump and Stacy airs live from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays on Seattle Sports.

More Seattle Seahawks coverage

• Insider: How new OC Ryan Grubb helps Seahawks QB Geno Smith
• What are experts predicting for Seahawks’ 2024 record?
• Last-place Seahawks? Why that’s what Colin Cowherd predicts
• Did schedule makers make it easy for Seahawks? Insider explains
• Bump and Stacy: 6 takeaways from Seattle Seahawks’ schedule

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Rost: If Seahawks have a QB battle, here’s what they can’t do