Geno Smith, Drew Lock, and the history of backup starters
Seaside Joe 1191: Will the Seahawks be getting someone serviceable at quarterback in 2022?
I now plan on seeing Top Gun: Maverick. Enough people have told me at this point that it is a “fun theater experience” that I might as well give in. But just in case any of you think that I am ever too harsh with my film takes or NFL media criticism, I want to share this opening paragraph of a movie review.
Rex Reed is one of the most respected and famous film critics in the industry and here’s what he felt OK writing in his review of David Cronenberg’s new movie Crimes of the Future:
Crimes of the Future is a load of crap. I would like to find a more civil way to describe even a sick and depraved barf bag of a movie like this one, but it defeats every reasonable attempt to try. Publicity poopery declares it “From the mind of David Cronenberg.” That’s your first warning signal. I’ve been able to endure a few of his epic horrors in the past, but 90% of the time I’ve found no evidence of any kind of mind at all. Still, in what has become of a film industry badly in need of triage, wonders never cease. Quick on the heels of its world premiere a few weeks ago in Cannes, where it was shown to audiences who walked out in droves, loudly booed and declared “unreleasable,” Crimes of the Future is now upon us, like a rabid raccoon.
I don’t ever want to hear that I’m “too negative.” Was I really being that harsh about Top Gun?
As for the media, I came across this shirt during some online streetwear exploration this week and I’m a big fan.
This is not a sponsored post—I think sponsorships and ads are part of what is ruining your media coverage, so Seaside Joe will ALWAYS remain #adfree—it’s just me sharing something that I liked. Another benefit to staying ad-free is that it reassures you that the people you’re supporting are giving it to you straight, with no hidden agendas.
Now it’s time to shoot you straight on the Seahawks situation at quarterback: Geno Smith and Drew Lock long shots to have the type of 2022 season that will put your mind at ease about the position.
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Lock and Smith have nothing to apologize for, the situation simply is what it is. There are only a handful of human beings in the world that are relatively good at this job and few, if any, examples of players in history like them who went on to become greatly successful at it.
There are some similarities to some quarterbacks in the recent past, however, and I’ll quickly recount a couple dozen or so from the last 20 years.
Kurt Warner, Rams/Cardinals
Tom Brady, Patriots
The most accomplished quarterback in history was a sixth round backup thrust into a situation that no Patriots fan was elated to see him in when Drew Bledsoe went down early in the 2001 season. But Brady is not like Smith or Lock, in that we know a lot about the latter two quarterbacks already. Brady’s biggest “sin” is that 31 teams should have never passed on him in the draft.
There aren’t any similarities between Warner’s situation and the Seattle quarterbacks either. Warner flew under the radar by not getting his opportunity throughout most of his 20s, then he landed into the perfect situation in 1999—and that was only after Trent Green was injured. He was again a surprise starter for the Cardinals at a time when most Arizona fans were reluctant to start the Warner era over the Matt Leinart era. But Warner was a two-time NFC Champion and on his way to a Hall of Fame bid by the time he took the Cardinals to the Super Bowl in 2008.
Dak Prescott, Cowboys
Tony Romo, Cowboys
Jeff Garcia, 49ers
These guys elevated their teams a little bit more than the one-season wonders or the serviceable quarterbacks that I’ll list below. Romo and Garcia were not quite Hall of Fame level, but they’re unlikely heroes who could propel their teams to victory on occasion. Prescott is on that trajectory and has a long time to build an even better resume.
Good for a minute
Case Keenum, Vikings
Derek Anderson, Browns
Marc Bulger, Rams
Tyrod Taylor, Bills
Matt Cassel, Patriots
Trent Green, Commanders/Rams/Chiefs
Nick Foles, Eagles (two different occasions)
Brad Johnson, Bucs
Chad Pennington, Dolphins
Keenum, Anderson, Foles, Pennington, Cassel, and Johnson would all command a serious amount of NFL attention for one season, but could not sustain that success. Bulger, Taylor, Green fell more on the spectrum of showing above average abilities and then ultimately falling short of those franchise expectations.
The Seahawks may be hoping for a Chad Pennington-in-the-wildcat type of season from one of their quarterback, essentially putting them in a position to succeed with innovative playcalling by Shane Waldron. Or they could hope that like Keenum or Anderson, maybe Drew Lock just “goes off” for a little while, even in a slightly erratic and unpredictable way without expectations beyond that.
Taylor Heinicke, Commanders
Josh McCown, Jets
Jacoby Brissett, Colts
Brian Hoyer, Texans
Kyle Orton, Bills/Broncos
David Garrard, Jaguars
Jake Delhomme, Panthers
Kerry Collins, Giants/Titans
Gardner Minshew, Jaguars
Jon Kitna, Seahawks/Bengals/Lions
Jake Plummer, Broncos
Aaron Brooks, Saints
Mark Brunell, Jaguars
Tommy Maddox, Steelers
Jeff Blake, Saints/Ravens/Cardinals
The story of Jon Kitna could be a movie and I’m sure many of you at least know the broad strokes quite well. Kitna’s time with the Bengals was even better than his time with the Seahawks, and he was greatly admired by his coaches and teammates during less successful days with the Lions and Cowboys. Could Geno Smith provide that level of leadership?
I forgot that Brian Hoyer kind of went off that one year with the Texans. He’s had a lot of other stops, but Houston was the only one that kind of mattered beyond being a backup.
Cool guy, great story, and if we get Lockmagic or something, that’s fine for one season. However, I think it is important not to overrate what Ryan Fitzpatrick really was in the NFL: A backup forced into a starting position way, way, WAY too often.
Kyle Allen, Panthers
Trevor Siemian, Broncos
Blaine Gabbert, 49ers
Rex Grossman, Commanders
Austin Davis, Rams
Mark Sanchez, Eagles
Trent Edwards, Bills
Matt Moore, Dolphins
Charlie Frye, Browns
Gus Frerotte, Dolphins/Rams/Vikings
Billy Volek, Titans
Tim Rattay, 49ers
A.J. Feeley, Eagles/Dolphins
To me, these are all examples of when teams had to really scratch the bottom of the pile to put someone in at quarterback for more than a game or six. I think that unless Seattle does add a third option, we may be looking at a QB competition similar to the Grossman-vs-John Beck extravaganza in Washington about a decade ago.
I’m not sure
Davis Mills, Texans
The jury is out. I guess this would have to be more of a Jacob Eason comparison, but at least Mills was a third round rookie who handled his own last season. Eason had some opportunities with the Colts last year but didn’t grab onto it and he’s going into year three.
Which of these quarterbacks do you think is most reminiscent of Geno Smith and Drew Lock? Who did I forget to add? Tell me in the comments!
Go see a movie, any movie! Buy stuff if you want to and only if you want to!
I'm going to comment on your "Top Gun" aside. I don't see myself watching the new film for the same reason I don't remember the old one. I'm a guy who tries to find films that enrich rather than merely entertain. I want to come away feeling like I learned something or grew as a human being. I have zero hope that a "Top Gun" remake would leave me feeling that I had accomplished anything beyond wasting a couple hours of my life and whatever they charge for a ticket these days.
Last night I saw a film I loved, which is unusual. Every year, I see just a handful of films I can honestly recommend. The film is, and I shit you not, "Bathrooms Over Broadway" on Netflix. It's intelligent, funny and heart warming (all in one). I'll admit it's not a film for everyone. It's likely to appeal to those with sardonic humor, who were early fans of David Letterman (before he got really famous, when he did dry, offbeat stuff), for students of film and more intellectual/egghead types. If you're someone who prefers to be simply entertained with special effects, there's nothing wrong with that. Different strokes and all.
As for Lock and Smith, I don't put them in the same basket. As others have said, though we've not really heard this much from you, Kenneth, we've seen enough of Gino Smith to have a good sense of his ceiling and his floor. He could carry us to a five, maybe six, win season. Perhaps more if the defense or the running game is great.
Lock was on track at one point to maybe become the Denver starter. He looked fairly promising coming out of college. His first four NFL games were wins. Between covid and the lack of support he received in Denver, it's not fair to place him in the "forever backup" column just yet.
Unlike Wilson, who seemed more the backup coming out of college (based on body type if nothing else), he didn't grab the bull by the horns. Brady is another guy who stepped up and took advantage of his opportunities, even as his college coach tried to shuck him aside. We've not seen that from Lock. But we know he's got tools. Strong arm, mobility, size, stature. All of which does not a great QB make. The question is really more about his mentality. Can he gain the composure to stop making game and career imploding mistakes. We'll see. I hope the Hawks give him a chance. I think they will.
If we want serviceable, we should go get that Minshew guy everyone is talking about. He's already in that category.
In seriousness, I think Geno's ceiling is in the "serviceable" tier while his floor is "existent" tier. I think the most likely outcome is something barely serviceable. I think Lock on the other hand has real "good for a minute" tier upside. He's much more likely to turn in an "existent" tier performance, but I think both those outcomes are more interesting (and better for the franchise) than a probable "serviceable" performance from Geno.