RENTON — Geno Smith is starting for the Seahawks against the Broncos on Sept. 12 in the regular-season opener and the return of that Russell Wilson guy to Seattle.
But from there, nothing is promised.
That was the message this week from coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider when they met the media.
“I think they understand that it (competition) is always on,” Carroll said Tuesday.
Said Schneider on Wednesday: “I think Pete said in the last several days here that the competition is going to keep on going.”
Carroll also hinted at that Friday in Arlington, Texas, following the preseason finale against Dallas when he announced that Smith would start the opener, saying, “he’ll give us the best chance to play great football right off the bat.”
That implied that the Seahawks feel that Smith is readier for the challenge of an opener that will come with a lot of hype and likely a lot of emotion in the stands and on the field. Starting Smith avoids what would have been a lot of talk about Lock facing his former team — and maybe allowing Lock not to get caught up in any of that emotion, as well.
Schneider did the dirty work of negotiating the trade in which Wilson was dealt to Denver for Lock and seven other players and/or draft picks.
That might have led some to conclude the Seahawks wanted to make the trade look as good as possible by getting Lock into the starting lineup as quickly as possible.
But Smith was anointed atop the depth chart from the day he re-signed in April and held that spot throughout training camp.
In his first comments to the media since Smith became the starter, Schneider echoed what Carroll said — that circumstances played against Lock, with the team hoping to give him a start in the second preseason game against the Bears before he got COVID-19 and had to sit out. Lock played most of the Dallas game but threw three interceptions, which helped seal the team’s decision to start Smith.
“We just kind of ran out of time,” Schneider said.
Did Schneider regret the way the situation was handled?
Schneider said “you can live in hindsight,” but indicated he had no issues with the decision to let Smith run the first team almost exclusively the first three weeks of camp before giving a week to Lock — with the team planning to let Lock’s play against the Bears dictate how the rest of the competition unfolded.
“There was a plan set up and the coaches went with the plan and that plan (couldn’t) come to fruition (because of Lock getting COVID-19),” Schneider said. “It affected him and he was sick. It wasn’t like people having a little cold or something. He was down. It took him a while to get his legs back, his body right.”
Schneider echoed what Carroll said that Smith had an edge early because of his greater knowledge of the offense from three previous years with the team and playing last year under offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, when he got three starts.
That comfort in the offense may also have been why Smith was essentially mistake-free, with no turnovers, while Lock had the three interceptions as well as a lost fumble that cost the Seahawks a chance to win the opener at Pittsburgh.
Smith finished as the third-highest rated player at any position in the preseason by Pro Football Focus in part because of having no turnovers and also judged as having had seven of his passes dropped (he was 23-for-39).
Not that Lock didn’t impress, Schneider said.
“The tempo that he plays with, the delivery, quickness, the ability to slide and avoid pressure and deliver the ball in a quick manner,” Schneider said. “And then some of the ‘let it rip’ sort of stuff that makes some great players great. And you know, you’ve got to take care of the football. There’s some throws I’m sure he wished he had back.”
Friday, minutes after hearing he’d lost a quarterback job for the second straight year — Teddy Bridgewater beat him out last year with the Broncos — Lock vowed not to let it affect how he will practice.
“I have to strive to get better every single day,” Lock said. “I know I won’t be taking the reps, but there’s a lot of ways you can get better. I learned a lot about what to do last year in this situation and how to be ready for any chance that I get. I just need to get better any day.”
Carroll said his message to Lock this week as the Seahawks returned to practice is that his day is likely to still come.
“He’s disappointed,” Carroll said. “But I know he knows how we think of him and how we trust that he’s got a big future and all that by the way we’ve dealt with him from the start and really taking him all the way through this point. He’s got a big-time future, so he sees that and he’s optimistic about it as we are.”