The Seattle Seahawks are in a very odd spot as a franchise. They do not have a true franchise signal caller on the roster following the Russell Wilson trade, and they have multiple young players at key positions, which usually signifies a team in a rebuild or transition. However, they have sacrificed significant draft capital to acquire Jamal Adams, and roster multiple high-priced veterans, not to mention head coach Pete Carroll has been adamant that they are trying to win now. The quarterback they decide to start Week 1 will likely signal where the organization currently sees itself on that spectrum.
The case for Geno Smith
If the Seahawks want the best chance to win football games week in and week out, Geno Smith is their guy. The former West Virginia quarterback and Drew Lock were similar in terms of total pass attempts last season, with Smith having 95 and Lock totaling 111. Both of these are small sample sizes although they still help us paint a bit of a picture, nonetheless. Pro Football Reference has multiple indexes where rather than using true counting stats they instead provide a baseline number: 100 is league average, anything above 100 is above average and anything below 100 is below average.
When looking at these stats we can see Geno Smith was clearly the better passer in the 2021 season. In the yards per attempt index Smith had a 105 compared to Lock’s 95. In the net yards per attempt index Smith posted an 82 compared to Lock’s 96. For the adjusted yards per attempt index Smith sat at 112 whereas Lock was at a 94. In the adjusted net yards per attempt index Smith’s 96 was 3 points higher than Lock. In the completion percentage index Lock posted a 79 whereas Smith posted a 115. Lastly, for passer rating index we saw Lock net an 84, which sat 30 points lower than Geno.
In a limited sample size, Smith’s DYAR and DVOA were both better than Lock’s for the 2021 season. He also had a higher PFF grade than Lock (73.3 to 60), again in a limited sample size and with Lock playing a few more snaps.
Another advantage that Smith has over Lock is his familiarity with Shane Waldron’s system. Quarterbacks historically struggle in new systems, especially younger and more inexperienced QB’s which Lock fits the description of. Even great veteran quarterbacks in recent memory such as Matt Ryan and Tom Brady have struggled to adapt quickly to new systems. This does make it difficult to envision Pete Carroll and co. making the move to start Drew Lock opening day in a completely new system over a veteran quarterback in Geno Smith who has had a year in the system and started three games last season.
The case for Drew Lock
The case for Lock is very simple. There is next to a zero percent chance that the organization can view Geno Smith as the quarterback of the future given both his age, as he will turn 32 during the season and his lack of any sort of positive track record. Now that is not to say Drew Lock has a better track record than Geno Smith, but the difference between the two is their ages, as Lock will only be turning 26 during the season. If Lock was to have a league-average year as a starter in his first year in Shane Waldron’s system, the organization might be tempted to take a flier on him for the 2023 season. This in turn could allow them to relocate their likely high first round draft pick away from the quarterback position.
Lock has also played a lot more football than Geno Smith for as long as Drew has been in the league The Missouri product has amassed 544 passing attempts over the past two seasons (18 TDs and 17 INTs). Smith, on the other hand, has 563 passing attempts since 2014 (20 TDs and 16 INTs) and only 154 attempts since 2016. He hasn’t had a full-time starting gig since 2014 with the New York Jets. DK Metcalf, Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs are all playing on depressed cap hits this season before they rise significantly next year. With that in mind it may be difficult to hand the keys of the team to a quarterback who has posted so few passing attempts in their last seven seasons. Now there is no guarantee Lock turns into the answer for the Seahawks as it is certainly not something his stats allude to. However, he has shown flashes of being a franchise quarterback, which might be enough for a team like the Seahawks to take a chance on him as their starter.
I think the Seahawks should go with Lock. I do understand that Smith played better than Lock statistically last season. Although, I also view this as a transition year for the team rather than a year in which they should be going for it. They need to find out if they have anything in Lock prior to the 2023 NFL Draft. If he can show more consistent flashes this upcoming season the team can more comfortably build around the quarterback position and revisit it in 2024.