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Is He Right? Pete Carroll Credits Drew Lock For Nipping At Geno Smith's Heels And Driving The Seahawks QB's Impossibly Great Start To 2022

[The Athletic]

“He’s doing everything we could ask of him right now,” Carroll said. “It’s good, too, that he’s got Drew nipping at his heels every day in practice. Every day in practice, Drew does stuff. He’s got good stuff going right there in support of what Geno does. It just keeps everybody on their toes. It’s the whole thing about competition; it’s good and we like (that) it continues to be this way.”

Oh, Pete Carroll. ALL ABOUT THAT COMPETITION, right!? It's in the man's Twitter bio. Always Compete. Both words capitalized.

Look, I respect that philosophy a great deal to an extent. You can't sit here and tell me that Drew Lock would be performing anywhere close to the level Geno Smith is right now…and yet that chunk of Carroll's quote that everyone is about to take out of context and run with may not be entirely without merit. Trust that I edited back in that post-"…" excerpt in after finishing the entirety of this longer-than-expected blog. Find out why. Join me on this odyssey.

Let's begin by applauding Geno Smith, who I now refer to on a first-name basis because he's played like a superstar who would earn such distinction. Geno rattled off the literal best start in NFL history through four games as far as completion percentage goes? He hit at a 77.3% clip in those starts. 

Then, with absolutely zero help from Carroll's Seahawks defense, Geno followed that with 268 yards, three TDs and a 139.7 passer rating in a 39-32 loss at New Orleans.

Now having established all that, maybe Carroll has a point about how good the QB competition is to push both players as they fight for what may be their final chances ever at starting jobs in the NFL. It's not that Carroll is denying how amazing Geno has played. In fact, to cite that Athletic article once again, the Seattle head coach actually threw some subtle shade at Geno's departed predecessor Russell Wilson in lauding his ability to, well, operate the offense at a high level within structure:

“Geno has really taken advantage of understanding the system and working well with every aspect of it, from the checks, from the control of the line of scrimmage, to what he is doing in the throwing game and of course, he is contributing in the run game as well."

I've been among those who were in awe of Russ' improvisational, off-schedule playmaking magic over the years. However, I highlighted this in my NFL power rankings earlier…it's starting to feel like Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron may be the next genius to descend from the Sean McVay coaching tree. I'm sure Seattle fans were excited when Waldron got poached from the division rival Rams before last year, yet the team faltered, and Russ ultimately wanted out.

Think about how high of a level Geno is playing at under Waldron's guidance. I'm not taking anything away from Geno. I'm just saying this guy calling the shots maybe knows what the hell he's doing. That was not the impression everyone got in 2021 when Russ and the Seahawks parted ways.

Aaaaaaaaand that brings us back to Drew Lock. I've been a defender of his in the past. While there may have been a perception about how antiquated the Seahawks' schemes were in Russ' later years, there was an undeniable reality happening when Lock was in Denver. He was playing under Pat Fucking Shurmur for the past two seasons. Look at that guy's resume. It's failure after failure after vanilla West Coast offense after vanilla West Coast offense. Milquetoast on the game day sidelines yet super passive-aggressive with the media. Can't imagine he's a fun dude to play for. Shurmur almost single-handedly cost Vic Fangio his job.

Lock has never lacked arm talent. He went 4-1 as a rookie starter in 2019 with Rich Scangarello calling plays. From then on, upon Shurmur's unfortunate arrival? Not the same guy. Hilariously enough, Lock and Shurmur might've fared better by running it back for one more year than the eyesore of an offense the Broncos have fielded this year with Wilson and maligned new head coach Nathaniel Hackett.

How about we compare some more numbers? Even with a 75.2% completion rate through five 2022 starts, Geno is only at 61% for his career. Lock is at 59.3%. Before throwing nine touchdowns to just two picks to start this year, Geno had more interceptions than TDs. Lock's ratio is a positive 25-20.

If y'all remember…during training camp and the preseason, Lock was legitimately pushing Geno for the QB1 job despite the latter being a multi-year roster incumbent. The fact that Lock was even under consideration in spite of how ugly his final two years in Denver were must've meant he was doing something right. An unmerited QB derby doesn't fit with Carroll's organizational culture and DNA. In a modernized, dynamic scheme with a seasoned vet playing like an MVP in Geno to learn from, it stands to reason that, yeah, Lock is continuing to progress and is better capitalizing on his tantalizing skill set. Now it'd be a matter of hypothetically translating that from the practice field to games whenever he gets a chance down the road.

Yes, Coach Pete was being a tad hyperbolic about Lock still competing with Geno to some degree. Beyond that, I'm kinda taking Pete at his word on this one. There's little motivation to gas Lock up. He's in a contract year, so it's not like you can boost his trade value or anything.

Although we saw glimpses of Geno playing well last year, no one foresaw him leading the NFL in passer rating through Week 5. I'm not saying Lock would be doing the same, or anywhere near the same, because I think he still lacks the experience to where he'd have more giveaways and definitely not as high of a completion percentage. What I am saying is, I'm not dismissing Carroll's notion that Lock is keeping Geno honest every single week and flashing some ridiculous throws. 

I began this blog convinced I'd stick to my initial take that Carroll's quote is fucking stupid and ridiculous. Now, I think I'm gaslighting myself into thinking Lock could ball out in this offense and be at least an above-average starter. WHAT A JOURNEY.

Twitter @MattFitz_gerald/TikTok