RENTON, Wash. — Drew Lock learned an important lesson last offseason while battling Teddy Bridgewater to be the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback. He fixed on who won each practice, and as he realized after losing the competition, that mindset did him no good.
“I tried to compare the whole time: ‘Did Teddy beat me that day, or did I win that day?” Lock said during this past week’s Seattle Seahawks minicamp. “And overall, if you start thinking like that, it’s just not good for your mental. It’s not good for your process of becoming a better quarterback. It’s not about who won that day. It’s about, ‘Did I get better today to make the guys around me better?”‘
Lock has been focusing on himself, not Geno Smith, as the two compete to replace Russell Wilson in Seattle’s first quarterback competition in a decade. And while Lock might not be keeping score, Smith was still in the pole position as the Seahawks wrapped up their offseason program earlier this week.
That was evident as Smith consistently took reps with the first team and as coach Pete Carroll assessed the competition at the end of minicamp.
“They’ve been really impressive,” Carroll said of Smith and Lock. “And it’s not been any one sequence here or one day here. They have just been solid throughout. We’ve shared a ton of reps. Geno has gone with the first group throughout, but they’ve had very close to equal reps in situational opportunities throughout. … They’ve done a terrific job so far.
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“Geno’s still ahead — you can tell that — but it’s not going to be too much for Drew to be caught up. By the time we get through camp, he’ll be there. He’s really bright. It makes sense to him He’s really sharp in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage and all of that, so it’s just time that he needs…”
Carroll concluded by saying the Seahawks are in “great shape” at quarterback, wording he later repeated. That felt like Carroll’s way of trying to quell persistent speculation that Seattle could add another big-name quarterback like Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield.
Carroll has already said he doesn’t “at all” envision the Seahawks trading for a QB, so it would likely take the San Francisco 49ers or Cleveland Browns releasing their former starters for either to seriously be in play for Seattle. San Francisco almost certainly wouldn’t deal Garoppolo to a division rival, anyway.
Garoppolo and Mayfield have better résumés than Lock or Smith. But both are coming off shoulder surgeries and, this late in the offseason, would be behind in learning a new offense and building chemistry with a new group of pass-catchers.
As for his own acclimation to offensive coordinator Shane Waldron’s playbook, Lock said he was “a little overwhelmed” at first but much more comfortable now. It’s helped that Waldron’s system is similar to what Denver ran during Lock’s rookie season in 2019, when he played the best football of his career while leading the Broncos to four wins in their final five games. Lock has been plagued by turnovers since, with 21 in 19 games.
“I feel really, really, really good about this offense,” he said. “I feel like I could go out and play a game tomorrow and succeed.”
The feeling among some inside the Virginia Mason Athletic Center is Lock will overtake Smith to win the starting job. But some believe he may have to win convincingly or Seattle’s coaches will favor the greater familiarity with Smith — who backed up Wilson the past three seasons — over the bigger upside with Lock and award anything close to a tie to the incumbent. Carroll has raved about the way Smith played in his third and final fill-in start last season, when he led Seattle to a blowout win after two narrow losses.
Smith mentioned that familiarity when asked how Seattle’s offense suits him.
“I think the up-tempo style, similar to what I played in college,” he said. “Also, just my ability and Shane’s trust in me to get in and out of plays, to see coverages, understanding our offense and moving our guys around to be able to create mismatches. I think Shane believes in my ability and my knowledge as a quarterback and I think that is something that suits us well.”
There may be no resolution to Smith’s pending legal case before the season begins. He was arrested in January on suspicion of DUI, but the King County Prosecutor’s Office is still awaiting blood-test results, which take about 10 months to process. Smith said recently he doesn’t forese “any problem” resulting from the arrest.
Jacob Eason is the only other quarterback on the Seahawks’ 90-man roster after they waived undrafted rookie Levi Lewis, though Eason is a developmental prospect who isn’t expected to factor into the Smith-Lock competition.
“We’re in good shape at the position and we just have to see what happens,” Carroll said. “The [preseason] games are going to be important, and everything will be important.”
Carroll declined to say whether he plans to alternate Lock and Smith with the first-team offense once training camp begins in late July.
“It’s going to be a real battle,” he said. “It’s going to be really an exciting time for our team, for those guys in particular, and for our people watching. I’m pumped about it. I really am.”