Saturday night the Seattle Seahawks dropped their preseason opener on the road to the Pittsburgh Steelers 32-25, after coming back to tie the game after allowing the Steelers to open up a two touchdown lead in the first half. Unfortunately, a late turnover on a strip sack of Drew Lock gave Pittsburgh the ball near midfield, and they took advantage to go down the field and score what would prove to be the winning touchdown.
Field Gulls managing editor Mookie Alexander then ignited a ruckus among commenters who were upset with the title of his post-game write up, claiming that he had unfairly targeted Lock, when it was the offensive line or the running back or anybody but Lock who was at fault. For those who would like a refresher on the play, here is how it went down.
Big time play— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 14, 2022
#SEAvsPIT on @KDKA | NFL+: https://t.co/C6T9f39EAk pic.twitter.com/aIf5hrtury
Rookie linebacker Mark Robinson blitzing unblocked from Lock’s blindside to deliver the hit that jarred the football loose. That’s it game, no twist, no stunt. Nothing fancy, just a blitz that Lock neither identified pre-snap nor felt in the pocket as Robinson closed in for the hit. The debate raged heavy about who was to blame, whether it was rookie left tackle Charles Cross for allowing Robinson to come in unblocked, or was it running back Darwin Thompson for failing to chip the blitzer as he released out of the backfield.
The reality, though, is that the blame falls squarely on the shoulder of Lock and Lock alone for failing to do something he had done just minutes prior. Rewinding to around the seven minute mark of the fourth quarter, the Hawks faced 2nd & 17 at the Pittsburgh 48 following a first down sack. The Steelers, wanting for force a quick pass to likely set up a third and long for Lock sent cornerback Carlins Platel on a slot corner blitz, and he was into the backfield and after Lock completely unblocked.
Except that time around Lock saw the blitzer, so he did what he’s supposed to do in that situation.
The unblocked blitzer on Drew Lock no one is yelling about (because Lock did his job) pic.twitter.com/Hm0WtCzB5l— John P Gilbert (Full stop) (@JohnPGilbertNFL) August 15, 2022
And that’s it. If Lock had recognized the blitzer the second time and thrown hot, he’s got Thompson open on the near side of the field and it’s a foot race to the sideline to set up a reasonable second down and needing just a few more yards to get into range for a game-winning field goal attempt.
Fans see the rocket arm and the athleticism and get excited about the potential for someone like Lock, while the reason Geno Smith remains in the lead in the quarterback competition is because his cleaner decisions making and protection of the football show through to the coaching staff. That, of course, doesn’t mean that Lock won’t be able to overtake Smith in the competition at some point in camp or over the course of the season, and if Smith can’t deliver wins, few will be surprised if he receives an invitation to the bench. However, the simple fact is that Lock is still very raw, and very unrefined as a quarterback when it comes to mechanics, decision making and recognition, and those items are critical for the type of football Pete Carroll wants the Seahawks to play.