“You want to run through a wall for a guy like that.”
Smith’s situation is different in a lot of ways from Lock’s—he has been in the league six years longer and spent two seasons as a full-time starter with the Jets before losing that job due to, of all things, a broken jaw suffered when a New York Jets teammate punched him prior to the start of the season. But in some ways both players are in a very similar situation this year. Both former second-round picks have been unable to secure starting jobs after some early success and high expectations, and both recognize that this opportunity is a big one when it comes to changing the narrative of their respective careers.
And in Smith’s case, having a head coach who has spent the past three seasons constantly talking about how much confidence the team has in him has helped him prepare for this opportunity.
“Pete’s always a positive talker and thinker,” Smith said. “For a quarterback, confidence is everything. You have to be in the right state of mind to be able to execute, and Pete does a great job, no matter the situation or the scenario, of being positive and preaching positivity. That gives a quarterback that extra confidence to go out there and execute.”
Smith said the way Carroll has praised his play at every turn, “gives me that extra boost in confidence that you need. When you have a coach assuring that he has confidence in you, that trickles down to the team, which allows the entire team to have that confidence. And for me, it just clears my mind. If there’s any doubt, it allows you to clear that out and just focus on coach’s words. The positive way that he speaks, it just gives you that confidence. You want to run through a wall for a guy like that, you really do. Coach does a great job at that.”
“Those are nice things as a quarterback to step into.”
Over the course of the next six weeks, the Seahawks will prepare for the 2022 season while, for the first time in a decade, conducting a wide-open competition for the starting job at quarterback. In both Lock and Smith, Carroll and Schneider see players with a ton of talent who, due to a number of varying factors, have struggled to find consistent success. Back in 2001, Carroll saw those traits in Palmer, and over the next two seasons helped a young quarterback tap into his full potential, and now, two decades later, the plan is to try to do the same with either Lock or Smith by putting them in a good situation that will help facilitate their success.
“My success with him came from him surrounding me with better players, surrounding me with great coaching, and then I just kind of followed his lead,” Palmer said. “I picked up so many little leadership things from him, quotes and sayings. I saw him in times of turmoil when he had a player be disrespectful or a player that wasn’t following the program, and seeing how he kept his calm and cool “I’ve seen other coaches just lose their mind and blow the gasket, and he never did that. He had a certain level of calmness. He had a great, cool head about him. During a season, a lot of things can go.” sideways, and a lot of coaches can lose their cool, and in the process of losing their cool, they can lose some trust and respect from other players.But the way he handled bumps in the road, especially early on, he flipped the culture and the program on its head.
“A lot of places I’ve been, there wasn’t a culture, it had to stem from myself and other vets on the team—it just wasn’t going to come from the coach. There’s a lot of coaches that are play callers, then all of a sudden they’re a head coach and it’s a totally different world. Those are just two different deals. At the NFL level, a lot of quarterbacks create that culture, but Pete takes that off the quarterback’s plate. There’s a lot on quarterback’s plate, there’s a lot of things, there’s a lot of pressures, there’s a lot of decisions you have to make, there’s a lot of teammates you have to deal with, there’s a lot of personalities. to do everything that comes with being the starting quarterback and be a captain and create culture and be on top of it. the charge, you’ve got to get on guys, you’ve got to yell and scream when you feel like the head coach should be doing Item. Pete takes those things because he creates that culture himself. When the quarterback has to do it too, it’s just another stress, it’s just another thing on your plate, it’s another obligation, it’s another pressure, it’s just one more thing. And the job’s hard enough, the position’s hard enough. So it’s a huge asset having Pete’s focus. I know he is so focused on so many different facets of team building and culture and all that, and he works with psychiatrists and connects guys with different mental coaches and just all those little different things that he does to create the culture that he’s created it over the last couple decades. Those are nice things as a quarterback to step into where you don’t have to add that to your to-do list as well.”