“What if — and this is purely hypothetical — we float out an unofficial depth just to see how they react?” — (Probably) Pete Carroll buzzing around a 3 a.m. coaches meeting, a few Adderall and five sugar-free Red Bulls deep, trying to figure out how to ease Seattle fans into a reality where Geno Smith is their starting quarterback.
In a move that felt like a political party trying to take the temperature of soon-to-be-lame-duck candidates, the Seattle Seahawks released an unofficial depth chart Monday, and, um, it’s sobering.
Yeah, good luck trying to tell the people who watched Russell Wilson for a decade that the guy you traded him for isn’t even going to be the starter. After the deal that sent Russ to Denver for Drew Lock, Noah Fant, a defensive end, and draft picks, Carroll lathered up the media with all kinds of Lock propaganda.
Back in May, the Seahawk coach told Sports Radio KJR, “I think (Lock would) have been the first guy picked, of quarterbacks anyway. He’d have been the first guy in this draft.” While he might not be wrong, considering Kenny Pickett can’t even get a snap with the ones over Mitch Trubisky or Mason Rudolf in Pittsburgh, saying some wild shit like that is dangerously misleading.
The headline from Carroll’s interview three months ago was obviously the claim about Lock and this year’s QB class, but if you listened to the whole thing — or wrote about it as I did — you could kind of see the skipper talking himself into Smith in real-time.
After heaping heavy praise on Lock for far too long, Carroll looked to a player on his roster for a comp: “(Lock) compares to Geno, and Geno Smith has a great arm. He has a world-class arm, and all that. To match up with that, that’s saying a lot.”
At the time, I said, “If Carroll wants to get spicy and pick a quarterback on his roster as the theoretical first QB taken in 2022, nominate Smith, who went three picks higher in 2013 than where Lock went in 2019.”
Pete, it was a joke, a hot take, something said in jest. You didn’t have to take it literally. Whether it’s official, unofficial, or a ploy, naming a guy with a negative TD-Int ratio (34 to 37) and a lifetime winning percentage of 38 as your starter is a terrible idea.
I don’t care how good the Smith-to-Metcalf connection looked a year ago. That was a fake sample size. He might’ve matured since the last time he ran an offense in 2014, but not enough to flush his system free of whatever it is the Jets inject in their QB selections.
(Side fantasy football note: I wouldn’t overpay for any of the ’Hawks wide receivers whether it’s Lock or Smith throwing them the ball. The staff was already averse to calling high-risk plays like the forward pass, and now it has even more reason to handcuff the starter.)
Fans are expecting Lock to not only start but to be competent — something he has yet to do as a pro. He’s 8-13 as a starter with a 25-20 TD-INT ratio. If you squint at his 6-foot-4 frame long enough you can see an NFL quarterback. It’s a magic eye trick, and Carroll and John Elway are the lone two people on Earth who can see it. That’s why Broncos’ faithful no longer take Elway at his word, and it’s destined to happen (if it hasn’t already) for the 12th Man and Carroll if indeed the unofficial depth chart is made official.
Pom pom Pete’s enthusiasm and optimism are part of his allure, and it’s great when he’s got a talented team capable of reaching soaring heights with a little extra positive thinking. That rah-rah crap stops being endearing when the season is lost, and if Smith really is going to be the guy under center Week 1 against Wilson and Denver, this year will be over before it begins.