Drew Lock’s most significant pass Saturday wasn’t the 25-yard throw he completed to DK Metcalf or the 20-yard touchdown toss reeled in by Cody Thompson. The most significant pass was the one he made over fellow quarterback Geno Smith — right to the top of the depth chart.
This hasn’t been the most theatrical training camp for the Seahawks, but it’s clear what has become the top storyline: Who is going to be behind center when the season begins? And barring a late addition or injury, it has long appeared the battle is between Smith and Lock.
Only thing is, before Saturday’s mock game at Lumen Field, Seattle coach Pete Carroll has been transparent through his words and actions that Smith was ahead of Lock in the summertime competition. Aside from publicly declaring as much, Carroll has had Smith take all of his reps with the starters while Lock has practiced with the second team.
Saturday, however, finally offered something closer to an apples-to-apples comparison between the two signal-callers. And one apple had a lot more juice.
The 31-year-old Smith, a longtime backup, went 10-of-19 passing for 94 yards, no TDs and an almost-interception by cornerback Tariq Woolen that was (questionably) ruled an incomplete pass. During the five drives Smith led, the Seahawks scored one touchdown and one field goal, but were also forced to punt three times — two of which came on three-and-outs.
The 25-year-old Lock, meanwhile, finished 18-of-27 for 185 yards, one TD and no picks. In his five drives behind center, Lock led the offense to two touchdowns and a field goal while twice having to punt. Moreover, Lock had just one series with the starting offense whereas Smith had four.
Lock’s numbers would have been even more convincing compared to Smith had he not overthrown an open Bo Melton near the end of the mock game, a play he visibly lamented in his postgame interview. Airmail aside, it was clear who had the better day — even if Carroll won’t say it.
“I didn’t see a lot, so I can’t help you very much on a lot of stuff,” said Pete. “I need to see the film.”
If you see that Drew played as well as Geno, or better than Geno, will he start to get more reps with the starters? I asked.
“I don’t have anything to tell you right now,” said Carroll. “I have to wait and see.”
It makes sense for Carroll to want to show his respect for Smith, who has been with the Seahawks since 2019. He has built up locker-room cred, something Lock is still developing since being dealt to Seattle this past offseason in the Russell Wilson trade.
It also makes sense for the Seahawks to make Lock earn the starting position as opposed to being declared the immediate frontrunner — not only because of Smith’s cachet among teammates, but to help motivate a fourth-year QB to return to his rookie form, when he won four of his five games as Denver’s starter.
But it seemed evident after Saturday’s mock that Lock was pleased to have gotten a chance to showcase his skills in a game-like setting with, for one drive at least, the team’s top offensive weapons at his disposal.
“I don’t get a lot of reps with those guys — it’s interesting when you watch DK run a route compared to basically anyone else in the world. Tyler (Lockett) as well,” Lock said. “And to be able to go out there and, you know, feel confident, roll down the field and put points up on the board. That’s what I wanted to do with those guys. That’s what I wanted to show today. And I’m happy I did that.”
One has to think that fans who want to see the Seahawks compete for a playoff spot this year hope Lock wins the job. Not because they have anything against Smith, but because Geno has never had a stretch in his career in which he proved he could consistently lead a team to victory.
Still, the fact that he has hung around this long as a backup proves that coaches still think he has value. And even though he had been given his opportunities in years past, he’d like to have one more.
How do you think Drew played today, and do you think his effort affected the QB competition?
“As far as the competition, I’m not the one judging all of that, so I’ll leave that up to the coaches,” Smith said. “But I think Drew played really well, as I’ve always said, and I will go on record to say that I have his back. No matter what.”
He may have no other choice. Drew is no lock for the starting job, but for the first time since camp started, he is the QB to beat.