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Breaking down Drew Lock’s performance against the Cowboys

NFL: AUG 26 Preseason - Seahawks at Cowboys Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Drew Lock has had a rollercoaster of a preseason. In Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers he completed 11 passes on 15 attempts with 102 passing yards to go along with 2 touchdowns and a 131.1 passer rating, significantly better than Geno Smith’s passer rating of 85.7. Heading into Week 2, Pete Carroll announced he would be that week’s starter, which gave the impression that Lock may have had a real chance at the starting QB gig. However, he tested positive for Covid-19 and missed the game.

Before Thursday’s game against the Cowboys there was still believed to be a QB battle with Pete Carroll announcing the team had two QB 1’s in Lock and Smith. However, Lock fell flat on his face in Week 3. He completed 13 of 24 attempts, threw for 171 yards and tossed one touchdown with three interceptions which resulted in a passer rating of 51.2. After the game Carroll announced Smith would be the Seahawks’ regular season starting QB. Down below we are going to look at what went right and more importantly what went wrong for the Mizzou product in his Week 3 effort against Dallas.

The touchdown

Plays such as this one are where a lot of the frustrations with Lock stem from. He has moments where he struggles mightily, but he will also produce great plays such as this one. He goes through his progressions initially looking to his left, but when he saw that was taken by the deep safety he went to his right for the touchdown. It was a beautifully thrown ball with loft by Lock as he dropped it right into the bucket of Penny Hart, who may or may not have gotten away with a slight push off. But nonetheless these are the types of throws Lock is capable of making at any moment.

His problem is he can never put them on tape with enough consistency to become a high end or middle of the pack quarterback. He has the arm strength, mobility and athleticism to become a true franchise quarterback. However, on the flip side he has also struggled with his accuracy, decision making and processing speed throughout the course of his career.

The interceptions

This is a really bad interception for Lock with a lot to break down on the play. Lock made the correct pre-snap read in seeing zone defense, although he read the wrong zone. Based on his decision it appears that he thought Dallas was in a Cover-3 zone where Nahshon Wright would drop back into a deep third, leaving Penny Hart open. The problem, regardless of what he saw pre-snap, is Lock determined where he was going with the ball before it was even snapped rather than anticipating the coverage and then reacting to what he sees post-snap. Had Lock read the safeties, he would have seen immediately off of the snap that it was a Cover-2 zone as both safeties gained depth and got wide immediately. Once he deciphered that the throw would’ve gone to the receiver running the go-route to Hart’s left as one of the gaps against Cover-2 is down the sidelines. Instead of reading the play post snap he threw an out route against a cloud zone defender in Cover-2 which is a pick waiting to happen.

I apologize for the angle on this play, but it still displays enough to see what Lock does wrong on it. At first, he does a good job of going through his reads as we can see he goes from right to left on it. After that though Lock makes a massive mistake by being late on a hitch route. This is another decision from Lock that is a pick six waiting to happen because of the depth and timing of the pass.

Lock has to know that it is a throw that he cannot be making unless he sees the receiver and they are wide open, which Dee Eskridge was not. It appears that Lock decided that he was going to throw it once he got to Eskridge’s read which is another problem in its own right. The pocket looks as if it was starting to collapse which likely led to Lock panicking a bit and contributed to his decision. Despite that, he has to know if the throw is not there, which it wasn’t on this play, you either take the sack or throw it away.

This play is frustrating for multiple reasons. Lock is throwing from a set position in the pocket with no pressure being placed on him. It is an in-stride throw that you would expect every quarterback in the NFL to be able to make 10 out of 10 times.

The second aggravating part of this play is it was a miss over the middle. In addition to where the miss took place, Aaron Fuller, the intended target on the play, was wide open with green grass all around him meaning it could’ve gained more yards beyond what was required. Now there will be some who will argue Fuller should have made the catch since it hit his hands, which is understandable as he should’ve caught it, but it does not excuse the miss by Lock. Even if the catch was made, Lock’s forcing him to leave his feet meant there was a next to no chance that Fuller would have been able to produce any additional yards after the catch. These are the types of subtle inaccuracies that show up far too often on Lock’s tape and more problematically is they show up more often than the beautiful touchdown pass we highlighted above.

I wrote an article about a month ago where I argued Lock should be the Seahawks’ Week 1 starting quarterback because of the upside he brings with him compared to Geno Smith. I thought the arm strength and athleticism he brought to the table would add a dimension to the Seahawks offense that is not available with Geno Smith at the helm. Despite Smith having an underwhelming preseason that saw him post a completion percentage of 59% and passer rating of 78.6 on 39 attempts — albeit impacted by drops — it is very difficult to argue Lock should be the guy for Seattle after this performance.