RENTON — So, Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron was asked Tuesday when he met the media for the first time during training camp, do you have a deadline naming a starting quarterback?
“Denver,” he said with a smile, referring to the regular-season opener Sept. 12 against Russell Wilson and the Broncos. After a pause he added, “We do have a plan though.”
A plan, he said, that will be kept in house.
And while Waldron was joking, staying consistent with the overall tenor of coach Pete Carroll of being as vague as possible about where things stand with the QB competition, Seattle’s fifth training camp practice of the season Tuesday did nothing to dissuade the idea it will take a while to decide on a starter between Geno Smith and Drew Lock.
In the team’s first padded practice, the offense had a better day than Monday, when the defense turned in a fair impression of the 2013 Legion of Boom team in its dominance.
Both quarterbacks spoke to the media after Monday’s practice and acknowledged candidly it was a tough day for the offense with Smith saying it was now “about how we respond.”
There were, at least, a few offensive highlights in the team’s response Tuesday, with Smith throwing two touchdowns during 11-on-11 team sessions and Lock three.
As has been the case throughout, Smith again worked exclusively behind the No. 1 offensive line going against the No. 1 defense, and Lock with the No. 2 offensive line against the No. 2 defense. However, receivers such as DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett got ample reps with both QBs.
After extensive third-down and red-zone sessions, the practice ended with each quarterback getting two non-situational drives.
Smith’s first possession ended on the second play in an interception by Josh Jones, in on the play as a third safety along with Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs, when Smith tried to throw it to Lockett in double coverage.
Lock then led a drive that ended in a third-and-9 TD pass to Penny Hart. Smith responded on his next drive with a short TD pass to Marquise Goodwin, who made a diving, juggling grab, finally pinning the ball between his feet for the score (though defenders argued, possibly correctly, that the ball hit the ground first).
Lock then led a short drive that ended in a 6-yard TD pass to former Husky Aaron Fuller on third-and-goal.
Including all 11-on-11 sessions, Smith was unofficially 9-17 with two TDs (with another to tight end Tyler Mabry in a red-zone drill) and an interception and Lock 8-19 with three TDs (he also had one to Walker in a red-zone drill) and no picks.
For camp, Smith now has thrown three interceptions in 11-on-11 sessions while Lock doesn’t have any.
As noted, Smith has gone exclusively against the starting defense, and Lock the backups.
Still, curtailing turnovers was considered among Lock’s biggest needs for improvement, so that he has largely taken care of the ball so far is a positive.
Waldron noted that the first practice of camp ended with Lock rolling to his left and trying to heave a pass deep across the field for what could easily have been an interception and that “he comes right back the next day almost has the identical situation right there, he sees it downfield as that’s probably a tough one, puts the ball away and runs with it. It’s just consistently making those quality decisions.”
So, who has the edge? Coaches aren’t saying. For now, that Smith continues to work with the ones indicates that if the team played a game today, he’d be the guy.
But as Waldron made clear, Seattle doesn’t play for almost six weeks, and lots can change.
Waldron also said not to assume that what fans and media see in open practices and preseason games is all that will win the job.
Asked why Smith has gotten almost all the work with the ones, Waldron noted that there is a lot of other work going on behind the scenes.
“There’s also a lot of different things with walk-throughs and everything we’ve got going,” Waldron said. “And there have been a few scenarios out here where there has been some overlap. And so we’re just going with our plan here, really evaluating those guys, evaluating everything they’re doing.“
Waldron noted that factors such as “the communication, how they’re interacting with their teammates, how we’re throwing individual routes, how we’re running the drill periods,” will also play a role in the decision.
But ultimately, Waldron said, the major determiner is “winning. … Every situation that they are in, are they winning that moment?”
The first significant moment figures to come Saturday when the team holds its annual mock game at Lumen Field at 2:30 p.m. And the most telling moment of that game could be if Lock gets some work behind the one offensive line against the No. 1 defense, or if the split continues to be as it has so far.
Carroll has said several times that Smith has the upper hand due to his better knowledge of the offense, having been with Seattle four years now and in his second year with Waldron, while Lock arrived in March from Denver in the Wilson deal.
But Waldron indicated that’s becoming less of a factor. He praised the help Smith and Jacob Eason, who has been with the Seahawks since October, have done to aid Lock in learning the playbook saying “they’re really helping each out and that’s allowed Drew to really pick up the offense in a good, timely fashion.”
- Speaking of Metcalf, both QBs had trouble connecting with him Tuesday. Unofficially, he caught one pass on eight targets in the red zone and third down sessions and then the last two 11-on-11 team sessions. One, in the end zone from Lock, was batted away by rookie cornerback Coby Bryant, who continues to impress. Another time, Metcalf broke open but a Smith pass hung in the air and Artie Burns — who has had a nice camp — recovered to break it up. The practice, though, was just the third of any kind for Metcalf since last season. “Like anything else, it’s still a process to get back into the swing of things, get back into the timing and rhythm,” Waldron said. “But as far as from a mental state from a physical being in shape state, he’s picking up where he left off. So he’s just doing nothing but trying to be that positive leader day in and day out within the building.”
- Receiver Dee Eskridge again did not take part in any drills. He has been out since the first practice last Wednesday with a tight hamstring.
- Also not practicing Tuesday were cornerback Ugo Amadi, linebacker Lakiem Williams and defensive tackle Poona Ford. Ford appeared to just be getting a veteran rest day while it was unclear the issue with the others. And safety Ryan Neal suffered some sort of foot/leg injury early on and did not return. It was unclear the severity.
- Jake Curhan again worked with the starting line at right tackle with rookie Abraham Lucas with the second team. The rest of the starting offensive line has remained consistent — left tackle Charles Cross, left guard Damien Lewis, center Austin Blythe and right guard Gabe Jackson. Phil Haynes continues to at times rotate in with Jackson at right guard.
- Jamal Adams practiced throughout in his second day back after breaking his middle finger, which is covered with a cast.
- Carroll remains away from the team after testing positive for COVID-19. The earliest he can be back is Friday. Associate head coach Carl Smith again took over some of his usual on-field duties but Carroll is in communication with the team virtually. “He’s in there in spirit and also on those Zooms,” Waldron said.