Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron took the podium Tuesday following the fifth practice of training camp. Waldron fielded plenty of questions regarding the Seahawks offense as we inch closer to preseason, including questions about the quarterback competition.
Much has been made of the quarterback battle between Geno Smith and and Drew Lock. Both Pete Carroll and Waldron have been transparent through the offseason, with Smith mainly running with the first team offense. But Waldron gave an update on the status of both quarterbacks.
"We have a plan there," Waldron said. "There are also a lot of different things with the walkthroughs and everything we have going. There have been a few scenarios out here where there has been some overlap. We are just going with our plan here of evaluating those guys and evaluating everything that they are doing. Right now, the way that it has worked out, Geno (Smith) has been a little bit more with the one's than Drew, but there is some mixing and matching going on and we will continue to do that throughout camp and until the time that we make the decision."
Smith started three games for the Seahawks in 2021, completing 65 of 95 passes (68.4 percent) for 702 yards and five touchdowns and a 103.0 passer rating. While the pair is focusing on improving and earning the job, Waldron addressed what success looks like for the quarterbacks in camp.
"Every situation they are in, are they winning that moment?" Waldron said. "Really, it's that process over results mentality. I'll take a great example like Jacob Eason had a great play kind of towards the end. Didn't work out exactly right, but his drop, his read, everything went the right way. To me that's a plus for that thing and that's where we got to do a good job of really understanding when you got these guys with Geno and Drew competing against each other you know we are looking at everything like all coaches do between the walkthroughs. The communication, how they are interacting with their teammates, how we're throwing during individual routes, how they are running through drill periods, and then how these team periods go and we'll get our shots, we'll get our Lumen Field scrimmage, we'll get these different shots and different practice settings and just do the best we can to evaluate who's winning each one of those sections to be able to get us in a position to make the best decision for the team."
With the preseason kicking off in 10 days for Seattle on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Waldron made it clear the team isn't in a big rush to name a starter.
"Yes, Denver," Waldron said when asked if there's a timetable for picking a starter. "Yes we do have a plan though. I think like anything else, that's a fluid situation. So, you know we have a plan that we'll keep in-house with our situation there and keep those guys competing and knowing that by that time we get to that first game, we'll be ready to roll."
While the starting quarterback is a big deal, Waldron has used this time to implement his new players into the offense; like rookie running back Kenneth Walker III. Walker caught a career-high 13 receptions at Michigan State last season, after just six in two seasons at Wake Forest. Waldron discussed getting the ball into Walker's hands out of the backfield and the process of utilizing him more as a receiving-back than in his college days.
"Yeah, I felt confident in the evaluation of him and he had good enough hands to walk in and be an effective pass catcher," Waldron said. "I know he had a lot of carries that last year there, so I know they're more focused on handing it off to him and he did a pretty darn good job when he had the ball handed to him. I knew right when he got in I felt like okay let's just verify what we saw. He's out there running all sorts of routes and doing a great job with it."
Protecting the starting quarterback on August 13 against the Pittsburgh Steelers will be an offensive line featuring Seahawks first-round draft pick tackle Charles Cross. With four offensive tackles under the age of 25, Waldron addresses what he's seeing from his young corp.
"I think both Charles and Abe (Lucas) have done a great job of really melting right into the veterans of the group and it goes right back to the competition with Stone (Forsythe) and Jake (Curhan) and the different guys there that's rolling in with them just like we talked about with the quarterback position," Waldron said. "They are all helping each other and those guys, some rookies might take a little time to figure out how to fit right in, and those two guys have both come in with that professional approach. You know you seem them around here all the time just hanging out in the building wanting to be a part of whatever they can and with Andy Dickerson and Keli'i Kekuewa just being able to work with them day in and day out and they can't get enough football. So that's a good starting point for some football players right there."
The Seahawks have two star wideouts in Tyler Lockett and recently-extended DK Metcalf. But there is a battle for the third wide receiver position, and Waldron is liking what he's seeing.
"It comes right back to that competition thing where we have that good competition for that third receiver spot," he said. "Freddie Swain is always going to be steady, he's always going to be working hard, playing tough, knowing what to do, looking for his opportunities, and I think that he has done a great job of picking up, like last year, of where he left off knowing the system and being really that physical presence sometimes in that receiver room where he needs to get in there and do some of the dirty work, move around a little bit, and then still provide good options in the pass game there. Outside of that, we have a bunch of guys that are in a group. We have some young guys, we have some guys like Cody Thompson and Aaron Fuller that have been around, are still competing, and upping their game every day that they are out here, and Dee Eskridge. I reference Rashaad Penny's situation where sometimes those injuries are out of your control, and I think that the hardest part for Dee right now is knowing that he wants to be out here every single day. Again, he's a guy that is tough, physical, and wants to be out there, but some bad luck has prevented him. I can't wait until he gets his chance to show what he can do."
Waldron was also asked his thoughts on the best athlete on the team.
"We got some pretty good ones," he said. "Let me think, I will probably go with someone on the offensive side of the ball. I mean I would not bet against Penny Hart in any situation. I feel like he's just going to win the thing if we are boxing, playing hoops, I think he's just going to find a way to get it done."