The Seahawks are heading into their second season under offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, and should benefit from a full slate of offseason workouts after abbreviated offseasons the past two seasons, but they also head into the 2022 season with questions to answer at a couple of key positions on offense, most notably who will win the starting jobs at quarterback and tackle?
Talking with the media after organized team activities on Thursday, Waldron addressed those topics and more. Here are five things we learned from Waldron's press conference:
1. Drew Lock, Geno Smith and Jacob Eason are "embracing the competition."
While the starting job won't be decided for a few months, all three of Seattle's quarterbacks are showing Waldron and the rest of the coaching staff some positive things in offseason workouts, "Trying to demonstrate that leadership ability, whether it's in the meetings, whether it's out on the field, and they're doing a great job of really embracing the competition amongst themselves," Waldron said. "Where they're pushing each other to do a better job every single day."
Asked what he will be looking for when it comes to actually winning the starting job, Waldron said, "Really just the overall command of the position, who gives us the best chance to win games when it comes to the Fall. And right now, it's just a good learning (opportunity) where this time of year where we're in t-shirts and shorts for them to really build that foundation where they can go into training camp and put themselves in the best positions to compete."
2. Smith and Lock will likely start splitting first-team reps in training camp.
As Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has noted on a couple of occasions, Smith has the early advantage in the competition due to his experience in Seattle's offense, but Carroll has also said he plans on an open competition in training camp and the preseason, similar to how things played out in 2012. So while Smith has gotten most of the work with the No. 1 offense in offseason workouts—at least those open to the media—things will likely look more balanced in camp.
"Those are just going to be constant conversations as we move forward here, finishing up the offseason and getting into training camp, and then it's something we'll sit down and discuss exactly how we want to balance out reps, or to give reps to different guys with different people around," Waldron said. "And the good thing about this time of year is, we've really tried to do a good job, we've had the ones and twos, so to speak going, but we've had a lot of mixing and matching of different guys getting their chances, not just at the quarterback position, but all throughout our offense. So everyone can have that chance to be with the first group, and get a chance to go with the second group, and mix and match with different people and different teammates throughout the course of the practice."
3. The Seahawks are comfortable starting two rookie tackles if that's how things work out in those competitions.
The Seahawks selected Charles Cross with the No. 9 overall pick in last year's draft, then not long after, general manager John Schneider referred to him as "a pillar at left tackle," so while Cross will have to earn the starting job, it seems pretty darn likely that he will be Seattle's starting left tackle this season and hopefully for years to come. What is harder to predict, however, is what will happen at right tackle. Jake Curhan, who started five games as an undrafted rookie last season in place of an injured Brandon Shell, will head into camp with the advantage of experience, but the Seahawks also really like what they have in Abraham Lucas, hence selecting him in the third round of this year's draft. And while starting rookies at both tackle spots might seem like a risky move on the surface, it is one Waldron would be comfortable with because those two starting would mean they showed enough in camp and the preseason to have earned the jobs.
"In my mind, by the time we get to that first game and the best guys are playing, they'll have earned those positions," Waldron said. "And if it's the two rookies, that means that they've beat out some guys that are good players in their own right. So, we have a lot of competition at those tackle positions. The draft obviously has taken that competition to a different level, as far as younger guys that are competing against each other. So, I think it's going to be a great thing in the long run. And if those guys go out and earn that job, then you feel comfortable because they've earned it over other guys that have had a chance to play and play well in the NFL."
As for how Cross and Lucas are acclimating to an NFL offense, Waldron said, "Both of those guys have shown that they could come right in and they've studied hard. You get the extra time with the rookies as far as meetings go, and they've been in there all day, every day, so to speak, when they can. And (offensive line coach) Andy Dickerson has done a great job with getting those guys caught up to speed pretty quick. There's a long way to go, a lot of understanding left to gain in the offense, but they've been able to get in right away and be able to operate at a high level at this time of year."
4. The Seahawks are looking to pick up where they left off in the running game.
After battling some inconsistencies last year on offense, the Seahawks really hit their stride late in the season in no small part because of the way the running game, led by a late-season surge by Rashaad Penny, paved the way for the team's best offensive performances of the season.
While the Seahawks offense will no doubt look different with 10-year starter Russell Wilson no longer leading the way, one thing that the Seahawks hope to repeat from last season is the explosive running game they had late in the year.
"Just in general terms from a philosophical standpoint with our offense is being able to be a balanced offense, which starts with being able to run the ball efficiently, is a big part of it," Waldron said. "I think regardless of which quarterback's under center, I think that's a helpful part to any offense and certainly something that we're going to keep looking to grow from and really continue where we felt like we were leaving off at the end of last season, where the running backs, the offensive line, the tight ends, receivers, everyone in unison, all 11, handling the run game at a high level."
5. A healthy Dee Eskridge is looking to bounce back after injuries limited him last season.
Eskridge, Seattle's top pick in last year's draft, missed part of training camp and the preseason with a toe injury, then after making back for the season opener, he suffered a concussion in that game that kept him out of the next seven games. Eskridge saw his role and production increase late last season, and is looking this offseason like the type of player the Seahawks thought they were getting when the picked him in the second round of the 2021 draft.
"He's done a great job of really coming out here and stacking those blocks," Waldron said. "I think we saw it in spurts last year, where he had that unfortunate situation with the early (training camp) injury, then early-season injury. But when he's been able to get out there and stack those days together and he looks impressive, he looks like he always did in our evaluation of him coming out, where he's got that fast twitch ability in the routes. He's got a good toughness in the run game. And so, he's really a guy that's going into year two with a lot of room to grow just based on some unfortunate circumstances."
Check out some of the best photos of Seahawks players participating in organized team activities at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Thursday, June 2, 2022.