We’re a week out from Seattle Seahawks training camp, and it looks like it really is going to be a battle among Geno Smith, Drew Lock, and (a distant third) Jacob Eason to be the team’s first starting quarterback post-Russell Wilson. Not exactly inspiring stuff, is it?
I get it. When Wilson was traded back in March I thought that acquiring the top-10 pick from the Denver Broncos meant Seattle would look at finding Russell’s replacement through the NFL Draft. Then you had Baker Mayfield and Matt Ryan available for trade, Jimmy Garoppolo is currently available for trade, and plenty of fans and pundits speculated that those were some names the Seahawks could look at to be the Russ replacement. When I did the SB Nation Writers’ Mock Draft I had Desmond Ridder going to Seattle with one of their second-round picks.
Spoiler alert: they did not draft Ridder, they did not trade for Baker Mayfield, Matt Ryan, haven’t acquired Jimmy Garoppolo, didn’t sign a free agent like Marcus Mariota, they have added no one at the position other than Drew Lock. If you thought Pete Carroll was bluffing, it looks like you were wrong.
And perhaps that’s what’s been hardest to comprehend. How could ‘Always Compete’ Pete willingly go from a future Hall of Fame quarterback to Geno Smith and Drew Lock, both of whom when called upon to start have repeatedly produced bottom-tier numbers? Carroll doesn’t believe in rebuilds for building for the future, just ask him back in the 2010 offseason when Seattle’s roster was horrendous!
“I’m not gonna be one of those guys — build for the future, and by Year 3 we’ll be this or that,” Carroll said. “I couldn’t care less about that type of thinking. We’re trying to win our division right now.”
Well the Seahawks did win the (historically awful) NFC West but at the same time the roster moves and draft picks allowed them to simultaneously experience playoff success and build for the future. Something tells me the NFC West won’t be that shitty again this year. Anyway, does that quote from 12 years ago sound familiar? Because here’s Pete from the mid-March press conference the week after Wilson was traded.
Carroll: "We're trying to build a championship frickin' football team right now. There's no future we'll do it somewhere down the road. We don't think like that."— Field Gulls (@FieldGulls) March 16, 2022
But we’ve been here before! When the Carroll/Schneider era began, the Seahawks very clearly needed a successor to an aging, contract expiring Matt Hasselbeck and the only things of note they did from 2010-2011 were trade for Charlie Whitehurst and sign Tarvaris Jackson. Whitehurst was the question mark with potential considering he had thrown no passes in his four years with the Chargers, whereas Jackson was mediocre at best with the Minnesota Vikings and had once lost his starting job to a 37-year-old Gus Frerotte.
Predictably, aside from his admirable performance against the St. Louis Rams (which still only netted 16 points on 12 non-kneeldown drives), Whitehurst was painstakingly horrible. Not once in his handful of Seahawks appearances did he lead the team to multiple touchdown drives. As for Jackson, he was neither spectacular nor ruinous and actually produced some of his best statistical games in 2011 — all while playing through a pectoral injury. Ultimately he was never meant to be the long-term answer.
And yet, that 2011 squad transformed from 2-6 to 7-7 and an outside chance at an unlikely wild card berth. The emergence of Marshawn Lynch as a premier back and a defense finished 10th in DVOA were the main catalysts for the turnaround, hence the widespread belief that the Seahawks were a quarterback away from contention.
The 2022 Seahawks are not quite like the 2011 team in the sense that the established talent level of this year’s roster is considerably superior, but there are some parallels to be made in terms of the quality (or lack thereof) of the quarterbacks and the inexperience along the offensive line. Geno is essentially a worse T-Jack and Lock is a better Whitehurst; Smith is going to be 32 in October and is eight years removed from his last full-time starting gig, whereas Lock has been bad throughout his three seasons in the NFL, but he’s still young and a change of scenery may perhaps help him reach his potential. Otherwise? He’s also highly likely never going to be a good NFL QB.
There is a high probability that the starting quarterback on the 2023 Seahawks is not on the 2022 roster and that part’s undeniable. Whoever is starting this year is destined to be an unexciting placeholder, and that means it will often times be unwatchable and look like yet another unwanted 1990s reboot. This is how Carroll and Schneider have operated before, and that appears to be how they intend to approach the 2022 season. That doesn’t mean we have to like it nor I am arguing that attempting to replicate what worked before is the right approach, but we’ve had enough time to see what the organization’s plans are at quarterback this year, and this is what we should come to grips with instead of refusing to believe that it’s true.