SEATTLE — Editor's note: The above video of an exclusive KING 5 interview with Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny was published on July 21. This story is part of KING 5's Seahawks season preview series.
Since a rookie Russell Wilson took the reigns of the job from Matt Flynn in 2012 (what a time to be alive), Seattle has had one of the most stable quarterback rooms in the entire league.
For years it was just simply a matter of which player would hold a clipboard behind Wilson, who did not miss a single game for nine consecutive years.
Matt Flynn threw a total of nine passes as Wilson's backup. Tarvaris Jackson tossed 20 passes. Trevone Boykin totaled 18 passes. Geno Smith, prior to the 2022 season, had lobbed five passes to Seahawks receivers. Wilson was the only player in 2018 and 2019 to throw a single pass for the entire campaign.
On the list of important Seahawks discussions, "who will be the starting quarterback?" ranked just about dead last.
With Wilson in Denver, and a new young quarterback in the room, the Seahawks are facing a problem they were fortunate to avoid.
Smith, the incumbent backup, and Drew Lock, acquired in the landmark Wilson trade, headline a quarterback room that ranks among the least desirable in the NFL.
But, of course, someone does need to win the job. Let's take a look at the two options.
- Background: 31 years old, 2nd round pick in 2013 NFL Draft, played on four NFL teams
- Career stats: 45 games, 34 starts, 13-21 win-loss record, 153.7 passing yards per game, 5.9 adjusted yards per attempt, 58.8 completion percentage, 34 touchdowns (TD), 37 interceptions (INT), 3.4 TD%, 3.7 INT%, 75.7 quarterback rating, 8.6 sack percentage
In June, Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron said Smith continues to show a strong grasp of the offense as he now enters his fourth season in Seattle.
“[Smith has a] full command of the offense, knows everything that's going on, understands all the concepts, all the run game concepts as well,” said Waldron. “He's done a great job. He did a great job when he was in that number two role of not just being in the role, but preparing every day like he was going to be the starter that week.”
That gives Smith the early advantage over Lock, who is not familiar with the minutiae of the Seahawks' offense.
But here's the thing: Smith has never been able to find his footing as a NFL starter. It's been almost a decade and he's yet to post even one season you could consider "good."
Electronic Arts' Madden 23 video game rated Smith as a 60 overall, putting him lower than Lock (66) and even third-stringer Jacob Eason (62). The popular video game has him tied with bottom-tier signal callers like Blaine Gabbert and Easton Stick. (Smith said in a tweet he's not happy with the video game rating.)
The 31-year-old quarterback, on his fourth stop in the league, has started essentially two full NFL seasons. He has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns for his career and he's averaging fewer than one touchdown per game over his career.
Expecting Smith to be anything more than a backup-caliber quarterback would probably be foolish.
- Background: 25 years old, 2nd round pick in 2019 NFL Draft, second NFL team
- Career stats: 24 games, 21 starts, 8-13 win-loss record, 197.5 passing yards per game, 6.1 adjusted yards per attempt, 59.3 completion percentage, 25 TDs, 20 INTs, 3.5 TD%, 2.8 INT%, 79.3 quarterback rating, 4.4 sack percentage
The numbers for the two quarterbacks are strikingly similar, which does not bode well for Lock. He does beat Smith in passing yards per game and adjusted yards per attempt and he's taken far fewer sacks.
But the gap between the two players has, admittedly, not been much at all when you look at their career numbers.
In The Athletic's annual quarterback tiers rankings, Lock was ranked 34th and Smith was 35th, mirroring the tiny gap in perceived ability.
Draft evaluators loved Lock's physical tools prior to the 2019 draft and that does remain enticing three years later.
That's about all Lock has going for him heading into the 2022 season, because he has been unable to translate his physical talent into tangible on-field production.
In June, Waldron said all three of Seattle’s quarterbacks have shown progress. The deciding factor, Waldron said, is which quarterback will prove he has an "overall command" for the position.
“Their arm talent, they can make every throw in the book," Waldron said. “They can throw the go balls down the field if they need to, they can throw play-action routes as far as you need to throw it, and then they can also have the ability to make some of the underneath touch throws or the level two throws in that mid-range zone.”
If we are being honest, though, Smith and Lock have not been deserving of a starting quarterback job in the NFL.
But someone has to start the first game of the season... and that someone should be Lock.
With just two NFL seasons under his belt, Lock offers at least the illusion of potential - however fleeting it is.