The numbers spoke pretty loudly about who had the best game in the first big test in the Seahawks quarterback competition Saturday, even if Seattle coach Pete Carroll didn’t.
“We need to see what it looks like on film,” Carroll said following a mock game at Lumen Field that gave the Seahawks their first real look at Geno Smith and Drew Lock in a scrimmage-like situation. “It might not tell us as much as I hope, but we will see.”
The stats, though, indicated pretty clearly that Lock — who has been the backup throughout training camp — had the better day.
Lock finished 18-of-27 for 185 yards and a touchdown, while Smith was 10-of-19 for 94 yards.
But making those numbers stand out more is that Lock had just one of his five series with the No. 1 offense, while Smith led the first-team offense against the backup defense in four of his five series.
Lock led touchdown drives on his first two possessions, one with the starters and one with the backups, completing all five of his passes on each drive as he completed his first 12 passes overall.
On his drive with the starters, he hit DK Metcalf for 25 yards on a seam route to set up a four-yard TD run by Ken Walker III.
He followed that by leading the second-team offense down the field and capping the drive with a 20-yard TD pass on a fade route to Cody Thompson, who caught the ball after it was deflected amid tight man coverage from rookie cornerback Tariq Woolen, who was a standout all game.
“A little bit of luck there,” Lock acknowledged.
Smith, meanwhile, hit six of his first eight passes on his first series with the starting offense against the backup defense, including completions of 19, 12 and seven to Metcalf, to set up a one-yard TD run by Rashaad Penny.
But Smith struggled from there, completing just four of 10 the rest of the day. That included what looked like it might have been the only turnover of the day, a third-down pass to Marquise Goodwin on his second series in which Woolen had inside coverage, dived and appeared to have made the interception — Woolen said later he thought he caught it — but that was instead ruled incomplete, leading to a Jason Myers field goal.
After each quarterback got a series with the starters and one with the backups in the first four series, each then reverted to how they have been used in camp — Smith’s final three series all came with the starters and Lock’s with the backups.
Smith did not lead a scoring drive in any of those three series, with each ending in punts and two going three-and-out.
Lock, meanwhile, followed up his two TD drives with a two-minute drill that ended in a field goal (which was kicked on second down with just 4 seconds left in the half), a series that ended with a punt and then another that ended on downs, though only after Lock barely overthrew a wide-open Bo Melton for what might have been a 64-yard TD if completed.
“Definitely the one I really want back,” Lock said.
Lock also ran twice for 13 yards, once gaining six to convert a third-and-five.
But, maybe predictably for a team facing its first quarterback competition in a decade, Carroll didn’t want to make any sweeping judgments without taking a closer look.
“It looked like they threw the ball pretty well,” he said of the two quarterbacks. “The way it worked out, Drew had some more opportunities [to pass], but I thought that they threw the ball really nice in the controlled stuff and underneath. We were clean with the ball coming out, the protection was good early, so it will give us a good chance to see them. If you noticed that both guys got to work with the first O-line today and the first receivers, so it will be a nice chance to compare these guys.”
In fact, Saturday marked the most work Lock has gotten with the starters in a competitive situation all camp as he has worked almost exclusively with the twos.
“It’s what I wanted to do today,” Lock said. “It’s what I wanted to show today.”
Smith, meanwhile, didn’t skirt the fact that after his fast start things were a bit of a slog.
“I feel like we started out really well,” he said. “I think the first two drives we had things moving. I thought we started pretty well. Then, I think we had a few mistakes here and there, and some of that’s to be expected. By the sixth day of camp, things are kind of piling up with the install, so we have a few things that we have to clean up.”
Carroll, though, did everything he could to not try to tip his hand about what he might have really thought.
Asked if it seemed the offense appeared to get Lock in more situations to use his legs compared to Smith, Carroll said it was a coincidence and just “the situations that came up.”
And asked if Lock might now get more chances with the starting offense going forward, Carroll said, “I don’t have anything to tell you right now, I have to wait and see.”
So, will the film clear everything up?
“It depends on what it tells me,” Carroll said. “I don’t know that, but it’s really important to see where we’ve come. We handled the line of scrimmage well, I was back behind there so I could see what was going on with all of our checks, audibles and things like that. We did that really well, so we’ve made a lot of progress.”
And undoubtedly, the Seahawks need to see more from both QBs before making any real declarations, with the thought from the start that the battle could go all the way through the final of the three preseason games.
But with the first of those games now less than a week away — Saturday night at Pittsburgh — the next week of practice will be interesting to see if anything shifts in how the reps with the first team are divvied up.
What the two QBs said was clear is that whoever wins the job, the other will support him unconditionally.
“As far as the competition, I’m not the one judging all that so I’ll leave it up to the coaches,” Smith said. “But I think Drew played really well. I will go on record and say I have his back. No matter what, I have Drew Lock’s back. I want that to be known.”
Appraised of Smith’s comment, Lock said: “It means a lot. … I would go on record I would have Geno’s back and do everything I can to make him feel good going into gameday on Sunday.”