Following the Seahawks’ 27-26 preseason loss to the Cowboys on Friday night, Pete Carroll opened up his postgame press conference by officially naming Smith the starter for Seattle’s regular season opener against the Denver Broncos.
“Geno’s going to start the opener,” Carroll told the media. “He’s earned it. He’s won the job.”
In a twist, Smith’s opening day start will come against the quarterback he’s replacing: Russell Wilson. The former Seahawks quarterback, who spent 10 seasons in Seattle (2012-21) was traded to the Broncos back in March.
Smith’s opening day start will mark the first time since 2011 that a quarterback not named Russell Wilson was under center for the Seahawks in Week 1. Eleven years ago, Tarvaris Jackson was the starting quarterback for a Seahawks team that would eventually finish 7-9.
The Seahawks held an open competition for the QB job this year, but from the first day of training camp, it felt like it was Smith’s job to lose. As recently as Wednesday, Carroll had made it clear that Smith was the front-runner for the job going into the preseason finale against the Cowboys.
“Geno’s been the guy in the lead position the whole time, and I’ve protected that thought throughout,” Carroll said Wednesday, via ESPN.com. “He’s done a really nice job. He’s been very consistent.”
If Lock had any chance of winning the job with an impressive showing against the Cowboys, he threw it away early. The former Broncos QB was picked off on his second throw of the game and ended up finishing the night with three interceptions. As for Smith, he played just one possession and threw for 43 yards while leading the Seahawks to a field goal.
Lock missed a chunk of practice last week — along with the Seahawks second preseason game — after coming down with COVID, and Carroll admitted that the lost time factored into his decision.
“The time frames got messed up for us for Drew,” Carroll said. “He just ran out of time in making his bid for it.
On Smith’s end, he’ll be making a Week 1 start for the first time since 2014 when he played for the Jets. Smith was the team’s full-time starter for two seasons after being selected with the 39th overall pick in 2013.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity and grateful,” Smith said of getting the starting job. “I have a lot of work ahead of me. That was my mindset from the start. It’s just getting ready to out there and win games. This is just step one in that process. It’s really about winning and none of this will matter if we don’t go out and win the games we’re supposed to win.”
When it comes to the QB battle, one big thing working in Smith’s favor was his familiarity with the system in Seattle. Not only has Smith been with the Seahawks since 2020, but he also started three games last season while Russell Wilson was out with an injury.
“Geno, he knows our stuff and he does really well and he understands it and he commands everything that we’re doing,” Carroll said, via PFT. “He’ll give us the best chance to play great football right off the bat.”
After backing up Wilson for two seasons, Smith will now get to face off against him when the Broncos travel to Seattle for a Monday night showdown in Week 1.