RENTON — It’s going to take more than a few months for the Seahawks to get used to life without Russell Wilson.
But another small turning-of-the-page occurred Monday when Seattle held its first of 10 OTAs (organized team activities), the first time the Seahawks could work this offseason with the offense going against the defense.
In Wilson’s place, the offense was run by Geno Smith, Drew Lock and Jacob Eason, a group tasked with as big of a challenge as may be possible in trying to replace the best quarterback in team history.
But as might be expected, those who spoke to the media following the workout insisted that life indeed will go on,
“It’s still the Seahawks organization,” fifth-year tight end Will Dissly said Monday following Seattle’s first OTA. “We’re competing, we’re grinding, we’re having fun. I miss my guy out here running around cracking jokes. It is definitely a different vibe. But we are still focused on what we’ve got to do, which is be the best we can be.”
And it hardly needs to be stated that how well Seattle replaces Wilson will determine if the Seahawks really can be “the best we can be.”
Who will get the call behind center, though, won’t be determined anytime soon.
While OTAs allow for full team on-field work they are still limited — helmets are allowed, but there are no full pads and no contact.
And coach Pete Carroll noted that 11-on-11 work will all be at walk-through speed.
Carroll, noting the controlled nature of the workouts, called it “kind of fake football.”
But for now, it’s what the Seahawks have to begin more fully assessing Smith and Lock.
Smith, the backup to Wilson the last three years, ran the first-team offense throughout the day. Lock, acquired in the trade for Wilson and a veteran of 21 starts with Denver the past three seasons, ran the second team. The only other QB on the roster for now is former UW standout Eason, who got limited work in 11-on-11 sessions, most coming during a period for rookies and other young players at the end of practice.
But none of that was a surprise.
The Seahawks have made it clear that due mostly to his experience in the system that Smith for now is atop the depth chart.
“Geno really has the package nailed,” Carroll said.
But Carroll said Lock has begun to pick it up pretty quickly saying Lock is “right with us. … We’re not holding anything back. We’ve really just unloaded the installation at this time. He’s doing well.”
And learning the offense is the key for Lock for now. As Carroll said, these sessions are “preparation for training camp.”
It’s then, Carroll said, that decisions will begin to be made.
“You can’t tell ‘til we really start playing,” Carroll said.
That, though, will make this the most interesting set of preseason games for Seattle since Wilson’s rookie year in 2012.
Seattle will play two on the road — at Pittsburgh and Dallas — while hosting the Bears.
What Carroll said the key for the QBs for now is to know “what we’re asking and what the situation calls for and adapt make decisions and show us what you know.”
That’s where Smith figures to shine for now with his experience in the offense, which includes three starts last year when Wilson was out with a middle finger injury — the only three games Wilson missed in his Seattle career.
“Geno — obviously being in Shane (Waldron’s) system, having the knowledge of the routes and what the progressions are is definitely helping,” Dissly said.
The Seahawks were 1-2 in those games, three-point losses to New Orleans and Pittsburgh and a 31-7 win over Jacksonville.
Smith, a second-round pick of the Jets in 2013 who was the team’s primary starter his first two seasons and has 34 career starts, had a five-to-one touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2021 and a passer rating of 103.0, just off Wilson’s 103.1.
Smith had just two starts in the six seasons before last year, playing as a backup. Now 31, this figures to be as good of a chance as any he’ll have to be a starting quarterback again in the NFL.
“Geno is a competitor,” Dissly said. “He wants to win. I don’t think he was satisfied with the outcomes of those games. We played some tough opponents. He stepped up. He wanted to be the guy. He wanted to win. And we’ll ride or die with him.”
Or, depending on how the competition goes, with Lock.
For now, the battle has just begun.
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