For the first time in a decade, the Seahawks will go to training camp unsure who will be their base quarterback this fall. The man who held that spot for 10 seasons, Russell Wilson, was replaced early in the season. And one of the guys Seattle had back into that trade, Drew Locke, could never quite establish himself in Denver and was initially at the top of the depth chart almost by default.
The timing of that trade gave Pete Carroll and John Schneider, the two-pronged brain trust the team has been running since 2010, plenty of time to find a suitable alternative — either by trade or by draft. But despite being linked to several quarterbacks during the pre-draft cycle, Seattle didn’t select a passerby with any of its nine picks. Although Baker Mayfield Describing the Seahawks as his most likely destination in AprilThe team was reportedly not interested. Instead, Seattle brought Jenno Smith back into the fold in a one-year, $3.5 million deal, and Carroll said over the weekend that The team never saw him “make a deal for anyone.”
So it looks like Lock and Geno will battle it out for the kickoff party this summer. For a fan base that’s gotten to play good quarterback for the better part of the past two decades — Matt Hasselbeck was a three-time pro before Wilson and the Boom Corps topped the franchise — it can be hard to see this as anything but a tank job. There, after all, A much deeper draft class of quarterbacks set to hit the NFL next yearAnd, if the team gets to the bottom, they might be in a position to draft CJ Stroud of Ohio or Bryce Young of Alabama.
But Carroll and Schneider did not act like two men overseeing a complete rebuild. Sure enough, they traded Wilson away and left Bobby Wagner, movements that felt like the early stages of ripping through. But they followed that up by re-signing safety veteran Quandre Diggs to a Long term extension, retaining defensive dealings with Al Woods, bringing back Quinton Jefferson and Justin Coleman, and giving rushed free agent Uchenna Nwosu a two-year, $20 million deal. In addition, says Carol The team is considering a meeting with linebacker KJ Wright Having left the Pacific Northwest a year ago.
The fact that both Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf are still on the list is another sign that the Seahawks probably aren’t folding their hands yet. In a true rebuilding, at least one of these guys—possibly Lockett, based on age and salary—had been replaced with seed capital to help speed up the roster change process. But no! Both are still around, and neither Carol nor Schneider is making any effort to lower expectations.
When asked if they feel they need to reassure fans after this season is over, Pete Carroll immediately replied, “Yes, we have to win!”
John Schneider adds, “We’re not used to losing.”
Corbin K. Smith (CorbinSmithNFL) April 21, 2022
Perhaps the two are trying to maintain an openly optimistic face—unrelenting optimism he is Brand Carol, after all – but all the evidence is that they really believe this team can compete for a watershed point with Smith and/or Luke holding the most important position on the roster. As silly as it may sound, I’m not sure it’s completely unrealistic.
Yes, the Seahawks have gotten worse in the quarterback this off season. When Wilson is healthy, he’s one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL, and I don’t see that changing next year. But Ross is also out of the ordinary because he has been able to consistently produce like a top midfielder while using an approach we normally associate with mediocre passersby. regularly give up clean pockets; He drops his eyes and looks to scramble at the first sign of pressure; He is largely unable to carry out notions of uneasiness due to his discomfort with the bodies around him. But Wilson is also very meticulous: He has an arm that can throw the ball, and he’s one of the best playmakers we’ve ever seen. He’s so talented that he can get away with breaking rules in ways that even the best quarterbacks in the NFL can’t. And while this style of play has earned Seattle plenty of victories in the past decade, it’s easy to see how frustrating calling plays for such a quarterback can be for an offensive coordinator.
Wilson is the antithesis of the Quarterback System. It’s his own system, so much so that it doesn’t matter who Carol brought him in as a caller. In the end it all turned to attack Russell Wilson. That’s definitely how things unfolded in 2021 after the Seahawks hired Shane Waldron off the rams to install a copy of Sean McVay’s offense. The thinking was that the schematic guardrails that helped many regular players play like superstars – even Jared Gough – could raise Wilson, while Wilson, in turn, could raise the system.
But as the season progressed, the product seemed more and more like the offensive the Seahawks had been running for the past decade. All the hallmarks of McVeigh’s offense — intense formations, notions of passing that attack midfield, trajectories from down center — have been phased out so gradually that if you look at some key metrics, you’d never guess that the Rams and Seahawks shared a similar philosophy last season.
The biggest departure for the Wilson-inspired remix can be found in his traffic map. While McVay’s passing game typically attacks opponents with choppy trails over the middle—a counterpoint to the Rams’ horizontal running charts—Seattle has largely ignored this part of the field:
Now compare that to the heat map of Matthew Stafford last season:
McVay offense does not work if defenses are not forced to pack into the intermediate areas of the field. No NFL passing game does that, really. Deeper passes offer a higher reward but are less frequent. Shorter passes have a higher success rate but don’t deliver much bang for your buck. It’s that mid-range area where you find the perfect middle ground.
But this area is mostly closed when Wilson is in the middle. This has not prevented him from playing at a high level throughout his career. But what happens when age begins to affect his physical ability? When will his famous moon balls start losing the mark? When the dash of lightning passes becomes a little more difficult in scramble plays, or those on-the-move throws don’t turn into completions as frequently? Wilson is still young enough to adapt his playing style, but his success rate in deep passes, jams and pocket throws is already trending down, suggesting we may be seeing the beginning of the end of this phase of Wilson’s career.
If Russell Wilson’s offense becomes less viable by the year, and last season he proved unable to play in another system, Carroll and Schneider’s decision to try something new would make some sense. Of course, sticking to the system doesn’t really matter if your quarterback isn’t good, and there’s little evidence to suggest that Smith or Luke aren’t bad.
Smith hasn’t really had a fair shake since his sophomore year in New York in 2014 — he’s only started two games between then and 2021. But his stint in the Jets, which saw him go from 11-18 as a rookie while throwing more interceptions than landings, was ugly Enough to assume he’s mediocre at best. Meanwhile, Lock is ranked 33rd in EPA per game and 40th in pass rate since entering the league in 2019. Per RBSDM.com. But both were front-runners in the second round for a reason: They’re talented shooters. They are just incomplete players.
Smith is very talented and not afraid of a pocket or a narrow window:
But his accuracy is inconsistent at best, and he’s often late throwing a ball or two:
Locke, like Wilson, throws a beautiful deep ball and can create with his legs:
But he also struggles to anticipate opening receivers, and about two to three times per game, he’ll turn his brain off and throw the ball into coverage.
In terms of overall talent, there isn’t much that separates Smith and Lock. Stylistically, they are not the same at all. So it’s possible that the outcome of this fight will come down to the method Carroll and company prefer: Smith’s more consistent decision-making, or Locke’s more arrogant approach. Which direction you choose Seattle will be clear. Smith’s pick would be a bigger departure from Wilson’s centered offense, while going with Lock would be a smoother transition given his ability to create out of the system.
Carol has already put Gino in the early lead In this race citing his experience in the system. But he’s also interested in Locke’s potential and physical ability. Even the Seahawks’ coach called Luke He would have been the first passerby to be captured if he was in this year’s enlistment class– and it’s actually more of an indictment of the class than an endorsement of Lock, but Carroll clearly thinks there’s something to work with. He also noted that both quarterbacks will receive more support in Seattle than they have received elsewhere. Luke learned under various offensive coordinators over three seasons in Denver. And Smith played in a more demanding system with far less talent than he would have been in Seattle.
If Waldron starts committing this crime as he did during his time in L.A., it wouldn’t be surprising to see Smith or Luke enjoy career years in 2022 (not that’s a particularly high handicap to explain). But whether that’s enough to keep Seattle in the midst of the playoffs is another question — and the answer could determine the fate of the Carroll-Schneider partnership.
These two need to regain the trust of a fan base that has been disappointed by the past few seasons of discontent. In this way, 2022 marks the “proof-of-concept” season for the Seahawks’ team building approach. If Carroll and Schneider can win games with Locke or Smith under center, letting them oversee this next era of football in Seattle would make sense. If this thing breaks, this should indicate that the full reset, starting at the top of the foundation, is in order.