How Geno Smith won the Seahawks’ ho-hum competition to be QB1

Following Drew Lock's three-interception showing in the Seahawks' preseason finale, head coach Pete Carroll named Geno Smith the starting QB for Week 1.

Geno Smith won the Seattle Seahawks’ underwhelming quarterback competition through merit, and also through default.

Smith was simply clearly the best of two unspectacular options, beating out Drew Lock throughout training camp and the preseason. Lock made the Seahawks’ decision easy when he uncorked three interceptions in a preseason finale against the Dallas Cowboys, even if two of them weren’t entirely his fault.

Pete Carroll names Geno Smith QB1

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll didn’t have much of a choice. He had to name Smith QB1, and he did, making Smith the starter for the first time on a full-time basis since 2014 when he was with the New York Jets.

Smith, 13-21 all-time as a starter, with 6,917 career yards, 34 touchdowns, 37 interceptions, a 58.8 completion percentage, and a 75.7 passer rating, had a solid preseason. Because of the combination of Smith’s competence and Lock’s shakiness after being traded to the Seahawks from the Denver Broncos in the Russell Wilson blockbuster trade, it’s now Smith’s job.

“He’s going to start the opener,” Carroll said during a press conference. “He’s earned it. He won the job.”

Another chance for Smith

Smith, backing up Wilson last year, familiarized himself more with the offense. He saw spot action, passing for 702 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception, going 1-2 as the starter when Wilson was sidelined with thumb surgery.

Smith, once the victim of a sucker punch from IK Enemkpali where he suffered a broken jaw in a locker room scrap while playing for the Jets, now gets another shot at proving he can be the guy.

“It means a lot,” Smith said. “I’m pretty sure it’s something I’ve been preparing for, and the reality is that it’s just Step 1. It’s just the beginning. I’ve got to make sure that I’m ready to go out there and win and play 17 games and more. For me, I’m grateful. I’m thankful. I’m forever indebted to the Seattle Seahawks organization, but it’s time to get to work.

“I’ve always done my best, and sometimes God doesn’t put things in the cards for you. I was always prepared, I was always ready, and I always gave everything I had to my teammates. And I believe that because I’ve strived and continued to get better, the opportunity has arose.”

Carroll has never minced words about where the quarterback competition stood. He’s consistently said Smith, re-signed to a one-year, $3.5 million contract, was the frontrunner over Lock.

Lock did miss one preseason game after testing positive for COVID-19. And although he threw a great touchdown pass against the Cowboys, that moment was thrown off by his tendency to commit turnovers.

“We really put him up against the competition, and Drew took his shot at him all the way throughout,” Carroll said. “Those guys, they have gotten along beautifully, they’ve supported one another throughout. They really couldn’t have done that better and in more classy, great competitor fashion. They know that they need each other and all that, and they did it right.

“But Geno, he knows our stuff and he does really well and he understands it and he can manage everything that we’re doing and he’s good about the football. He’ll give us the best chance to play great football right off the bat.”

Drew Lock remains a solid backup option for Seattle

“He can play,” Carroll said of Lock, a second-round pick by Denver in 2019. “I don’t have any question that he can play. I really don’t. He’s got all the athleticism. He’s got the arm strength. He’s got arm talent. He’s got a creativity about him. All of that.

“I think he’s going to be a fantastic football player soon, so it’s just a matter of he just didn’t quite have enough time to beat out a guy who knew exactly what he was doing and who just stayed at it and really just won the job because of his consistency and really his performance.”

Against the Cowboys, Lock went 13 of 24 for 171 yards, one touchdown, and the aforementioned three interceptions. One pass, intended for Aaron Fuller, deflected off his chest and was intercepted.

“I think there’s three throws I definitely want back,” Lock told Seattle reporters. “I think there’s a lot of good plays on tape too, though. Learn from those bad ones. Just take care of the football.”‘

What’s the big picture for the Seahawks?

Smith has a strong arm and can run, but he’s never been consistent, thus, why he’s been a career backup.

Bottom line: Neither option seems great for the Seahawks, who are expected to lean heavily on their running game tandem of Rashaad Penny and Kenneth Walker III.

What if the San Francisco 49ers ultimately cut Jimmy Garoppolo or get someone, perhaps the Seahawks, to engage in trade discussions? Once he’s fully healthy and sheds the rust he’s accumulated, Garoppolo sounds like a much better option for Seattle than Smith or Lock.

It sounds like Carroll is committed to this course of action, though.

That begs a question: Will the Seahawks be one of the most active teams in free agency and the draft regarding the search for the all-important quarterback position?

Logic, and Smith’s past performance, screams: ‘Yes!’

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