Is this the day the Seahawks’ quarterback competition shifted?
Because Drew Lock — stuck on the second unit for the four months he’s been on the team — won Saturday’s mock game.
Will that mean he’ll at least draw even with Geno Smith in the Seahawks’ quarterback competition? He’s been trailing since he got to Seattle in March.
The chief decider on the issue, coach Pete Carroll, was asked following Lock’s impressive performance at Lumen Field Saturday if Lock earned more time with the starters in the four practices this week, then next Saturday’s first preseason game at Pittsburgh.
“I don’t have anything to tell you right now,” Carroll said. “Just have to wait and see.”
As for film from Saturday’s scrimmage, in general, the coach said: “It might not tell us as much as I am hoping. We’ll see.”
Lock got his first full series with the starting offense of the 11-day-old training camp Saturday. And he shined. He finished that drive with the team’s only touchdown pass of the afternoon.
Lock out-played Smith, Seattle’s 31-year-old incumbent veteran as Wilson’s backup the last three years. Smith completed 10 of 19 passes for 94 yards. He almost had an interception; his deep pass in the first half hit the ground with the defender the only one in position to catch the ball.
Lock vs. Smith in style
In addition to performance, this quarterback derby is becoming a choice of styles.
One day after Carroll said the more risk-taking Lock “had some gunslinger in him,” the offense was more dynamic and tougher to defend with Lock that it was with Smith Saturday. It had more sprint-out passes. It featured more run-pass-option plays, laterals to wide receivers and a versatility to pressure the defense than it showed with the more static, pocket-passing Smith.
And Lock did it by mostly playing (still) with the second offense against the first defense.
His only stint with the ones produced the only touchdown pass of the scrimmage.
“I think it says a lot about the ‘feel’ aspect that I have playing quarterback,” Lock said. “I don’t get a lot of reps with those (first-team) guys.
“It’s interesting when you watch DK (Metcalf) run a route, compared to basically anyone else in the world — Tyler (Lockett), too. And to be able to go out there and feel confident, roll down the field and put points on the board, it’s what I wanted to do with those guys.
“It’s what I wanted to show today. I’m happy I did that.”
Lock said his goal each day in this QB competition is “to be the best me.”
How close was 10 for 10 and 13 for 14 with three scoring drives to the best him?
“It was pretty close,” Lock said.
Carroll said Lock was “really comfortable, wasn’t rattled.”
“The ball came out really nice in the controlled stuff and underneath. We were clean with the ball coming out,” Carroll said. “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.”
Finally, more of an apples-to-apples comparison of Smith and Lock playing with an against the same units.
Lock started 10 for 10 on his first two drives to two touchdowns. He finished with 18 completions in 27 attempts for 185 yards. He had four drives with the second offense and one with the starters. His longest completion was for 30 yards down the seam to Metcalf in the first half.
To end the drive with the starters he had a touchdown pass of 20 yards to Cody Thompson, with whom Lock trained this offseason in Houston. The wide receiver tapped a back-shoulder throw to himself while rookie corner Tariq Woolen was all over him in tight coverage.
Lock’s drive ends Saturday:
a touchdown run by rookie Ken Walker of 4 yards
the TD throw to Thompson
a Jason Myers field goal in a 2-minute drill at the end of the first half.
and a turnover on downs in another, late 2-minute drill.
Smith started 6 for 8, then hit on only 4 of his next 9 throws. He nearly had a deep pass to Marquise Goodwin intercepted by Woolen.
The impressive rookie cornerback started on the right side for injured Sidney Jones (concussion). The 6-foot-4 former Texas-San Antonio wide receiver with 4.26 speed in the 40-yard dash broke up two more passes Saturday. He continues to refuse to let Goodwin, a former Olympic sprinter, get past him on go routes.
Smith’s five drives ended with:
a 1-yard touchdown run by Rashaad Penny
a Myers field goal
Three of Smith’s drives were with the starters against the number-two defense. Two were with the second offense, against the starting defense.
“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,” the New York Jets’ starter in 2013 and ‘14 said.
“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. But overall, I love the effort. I love the way guys competed. I feel like it was clean...”
Two plays stood out the most for what Lock can be — and what the Seahawks want him to become.
On the first day of training camp, Lock forced a long, off-balance pass across the field that should have been intercepted. Carroll was so mad he had the practice end with that play. The “it’s-all-about-the-ball” coach later called it “as bad of a play as you can make.”
Saturday, on his drive with the starting offense, Lock gave a play-action fake in the backfield then took a deep drop. The play call was to throw long, either to Metcalf or Lockett to the outside or middle.
The defense dropped with both receivers, bracketing them.
Instead of gun-slinging it deep anyway, Denver style, Lock took the only other throw available: a safety-valve swing pass in the left flat to Walker. It gained 2 yards.
“The only other throw is the one to the back,” Lock said. “Sure, we picked up 2, maybe 3. But second and 7 is better than second and 10, and that’s what’s going to keep us on the field with these guys making plays.”
Later in the first half, offensive coordinator Shane Waldron called a run-pass option. Lock had the choice of handing to the back out of shotgun for a run play. Lock kept the ball and ran outside the containment of the defensive end on the right edge. That gave him time to flip the ball out to wide receiver Penny Hart for a 5-yard gain on a lateral to the right sideline.
That was Waldron tailoring the offense to what Lock, not Smith, does best.
“Without a doubt, that was kind of my style in college. That’s what we did. We ran the RPO,” Lock said of his days in Missouri.
“It’s a big thing. That’s what I’ve done for four years in college, and I feel really confident when that is the play call.”
Former All-Pro and Seahawks Super Bowl-winning cornerback Richard Sherman was on the field for the mock game.
He greeted Seahawks players and coaches during warmups, and had multiple conversations with Carroll.
— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) August 6, 2022
Darrell Taylor as the starting left outside lineback continues to be a problem for first- and second-team right tackles and tight ends in camp.
He twice sped past Jake Curhan, who started five games for Seattle last season as a rookie free agent, for what would have been sacks in a game. Curhan was the second-team right tackle. Rookie third-round draft choice Abe Lucas started. Stone Forsythe has also been a first-team right tackle on days in camp.
This 2022 Seahawks defense changing to a 3-4 featuring speed outside linebackers as primary pass rushers more suits Taylor than last year’s 4-3 defense did. And Taylor had 6 1/2 sacks, second on the team, in the old system in his first full NFL season. Complications from leg surgery cost him his entire rookie year as Seattle’s second-round pick in 2020.
“He’s looked just like he looked today. He’s flying off of the football,” Carroll said. “He’s so much more at ease and comfortable with what we are asking him to do. He’s way ahead now. He’s seeing things way better than he was a year ago. He will be able to take advantage of sets, formations, and opportunities.
“He’s grown up, so it should be a really big opportunity and season for him and he’s ready to go.”
*Carroll said the only injury was defensive lineman L.J. Collier “tweaking” his elbow. Trainers helped him off the field in the second half.
*Linebacker Nick Bellore, a fullback in previous Seahawks seasons, broke up two short passes by Smith over the middle on one series in the first half. The Seahawks need inside linebacker depth with Ben Burr-Kirven on injured reserve and out for the season.