RENTON — With three days left until Seattle’s final preseason game at Dallas, and less than three weeks until the regular-season opener against Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos, Geno Smith remains atop the Seahawks depth chart at quarterback ahead of Drew Lock.
But there is still time for that to change, coach Pete Carroll said before Tuesday’s practice.
“I’m wide open for whatever happens,” Carroll said. “Geno has been the guy in the lead position the whole time, and I’ve protected that thought throughout. He’s done a really nice job. He’s been very consistent. So we’ll just see what happens.”
Carroll again wouldn’t say if Lock will start Seattle’s preseason finale Friday night at Dallas, but he did say again that Lock will play substantially.
“Drew needs to play a lot of football,” Carroll said, calling it kind of a “make-up deal” for Lock not getting to play against the Bears. “So that’s the main thing that needs to get done this weekend.”
But for the first time Tuesday, Carroll broached an interesting option — that the Seahawks could play both quarterbacks.
Asked if he might consider playing two quarterbacks, Carroll said “that can happen. Yeah, that can happen.”
It’s something that’s almost never done in the NFL anymore — the Seahawks have never had a two-quarterback system for any length of time in their 47-season history — and Carroll said he couldn’t recall ever doing it in his head coaching career.
And as Carroll then elaborated, “I’m not thinking that way right now.”
But while Smith remains atop the depth chart, Carroll said “these guys are so even right now.”
And later, Carroll said “I know it’s not supposed to be a good situation when you have two quarterbacks — it means you don’t have one is the old saying. But I don’t know that — we might have two ones.”
While alternating quarterbacks seems a remote possibility at best, Carroll’s comments seemed to add further fuel to the idea that Lock can still win the job.
The Seahawks planned for Lock to start last Thursday against the Bears before he tested positive for COVID-19 and had to miss the game.
He returned Sunday and split reps with the ones with Smith during that day’s practice, the last open to the public and the last in which media is allowed to detail how reps are handed out.
Lock had what has been termed as a tough battle with COVID and Carroll said Tuesday he wanted to see him get through that day’s practice before concluding anything about his physical condition (the team had a walk-through-style practice on Monday but was back in pads Tuesday).
But assuming Lock progresses well through the week he could get the start. And then as Carroll has said repeatedly, the team will “see what happens.”
He also repeated that the Seahawks could wait until the week of the Denver game to make a decision.
“There’s two more weeks of practice after this,” Carroll said. “So there’s the timeline. I had a set thought on what we would do with the timeline but that got disrupted.”
That comment hinted that Carroll hoped to make a decision earlier. Carolina, for instance, named Baker Mayfield as its starter this week to settle the issue heading into the final weeks of training camp, and the Seahawks named Russell Wilson the starter following the third of four preseason games in 2012.
Carroll acknowledged such a timeline might have been more ideal.
“We weren’t afforded that opportunity this time around,” Carroll said. “I could just call it. But I want to let the guys battle and let them show where they are and let us get as much information as possible.”
While Smith’s raw statistics don’t seem like much — 20-33 for 213 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions — Pro Football Focus has graded him first among all QBs with at least 10 throws so far in the preseason, noting that he has had a handful of passes dropped, including three against the Bears on Thursday.
But the Seahawks have also scored on just two of his 11 full drives, with a touchdown and a field goal against the Steelers andshut out on his six possessions against the Bears.
All 11 possessions came working behind the No. 1 offensive line. But most skill position starters have played sparingly if at all — DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett got three perfunctory snaps on the first series against Chicago.
That might change this week, with Metcalf saying before Tuesday’s practice “I’m supposed to be playing Friday.”
That could be to try to get him and some of the other top skill guys some snaps with Lock, who played one half against the Steelers behind the No. 2 offensive line.
Lock led scoring drives on two of his first three possessions against the Steelers, with Seattle getting at least two first downs on his first four drives before he fumbled on the first play of his fifth drive with the game tied at 25 and the Seahawks having just gotten the ball on downs.
“I’d just like to see him finish the game and finish making the plays that he’s capable of,” Carroll said.
Seattle’s situation can’t yet be called a quarterback controversy, given Smith having consistently been at the top and Lock having played just one half of one game.
And the uncertainty for now doesn’t appear to be bothering Metcalf.
Asked if he needs to see Lock take more reps with the starters, Metcalf said “I don’t need to see nothing. Pete just left so that’s a question for him.”