Drew Lock got all the attention.
Geno Smith’s got Lock’s back.
Lock clearly won the most complete scrimmage yet in Seahawks training camp, Saturday’s mock game in full pads at Lumen Field. He completed his first 12 attempts. He threw the only touchdown pass. He got his first full series with the starting offense since he arrived to the team in March. The offense looked more dynamic, more varied and tougher to defend with Lock pressuring the edges on fast roll-outs and option passes, compared to the more static, in-the-pocket Smith.
Sunday didn’t reveal anything. It was status quo: Smith exclusively with the first team, Lock exclusively with the second team. It was a light, walk-through practice.
After Saturday’s mock game, the 31-year-old Smith — the former New York Jets starter in 2013 and ‘14 who has been supporting starters ahead of him ever since, including Wilson the last three years in Seattle — showed why Seahawks teammates and coaches respect and admire him.
“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, I have Drew Lock’s back. I want that to be known.
“We’re teammates. We’re competing. But we’re in the same offense. We’re in the same room. And we’re going to make each other better.”
Include Lock in the many Seahawks who appreciate Smith for that.
“It means a lot,” Lock said, after being told what Smith said Saturday.
“It’s the exact same thing I would say up here. I went through that with Teddy (Bridgewater) last year (the free-agent Denver signed to take Lock’s job for 2021). When Teddy got announced the starter in Denver, I did everything I could do for him throughout the week and even on game days. I would do the same here. Going on the record saying that I got Geno’s back.
“I’d do everything I can throughout the week to make him feel good going into game day on Sunday. That’s what that job is. I’d give everything I got for him, if that ended up being the case.”
Whether that’s the case is more up in the air now than it was before the weekend.
Saturday’s mock game was Carroll’s annual rehearsal of busing to the stadium, going through the pregame timing of preparation in the locker room and on the field for warm-ups, even the National Anthem, then game-like situations. Before that, Smith had been the clear leader in this derby. He had been leading the starting offense for all but seven plays over four months of offseason practices and the start of training camp.
Geno Smith, Drew Lock, Jacob Eason, all-skate period of Seahawks throwing drills.
WR Dee Eskridge in full gear but so far still not participating since day 1 of camp pic.twitter.com/fcEAszksFj
— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) August 3, 2022
Lock had been stuck with the second unit, taking snaps from backup center Kyle Fuller while Smith got months to mesh with Austin Blythe, Seattle’s new starting center signed this offseason.
It wasn’t a true competition. Coaches couldn’t make a true comparison of Smith and Lock under the same conditions playing with the same offensive line, backs and receivers, against the same defensive units.
Apples to oranges became more apples to apples this weekend.
Lock has forged an opportunity to split repetitions with Smith on the starting offense in the four practices this week, then Seattle’s first preseason game Saturday at Pittsburgh.
Smith needs to be more accurate than his 10-for-19 performance in the mock game. He threw two passes in particular that could have been intercepted. He made an ill-advised throw deep to Marquise Goodwin when impressive, flying rookie cornerback Tariq Woolen continued his excellence, staying with the former Olympic track man, maintaining inside position and being the only man close to catch Smith’s throw to the inside.
Smith threw late and behind his receiver over the middle, two things you can’t do in NFL regular-season games.
He way underthrew DK Metcalf on a long go route down the sideline. He threw errantly outside left to no one while facing a free-blitzing defender.
More troubling, the offense Smith led continued its camp-long problem of false starts before snaps. Last week in a practice Smith and the starting offense had four of those in one 11-on-11 scrimmage, including two on consecutive plays that never happened.
Saturday, tight end Colby Parkinson appeared to line up on the wrong side of the formation Smith had called in the huddle. That resulted in a delay-of-game penalty. Another time, Smith had to call time out on the first play of a series because of getting to line late and the play clock expiring. That should not happen on the first play of any possession.
“You know what, it’s just mental errors. We have to clean those things up,” Smith said. “We really have to clean those things up, but that’s the reason you practice it. We have a bunch of things that we’re putting in and we have a bunch of young guys, as well.
“So, like I said, it takes patience. I believe those guys are going to get it and we just have to continue to give them grace, and allow them to get those kinks out, because we’re going to need them.”