“He’s handling the game well,” says Pete Carroll.

October 26, 2021

SEATTLE – Pete Carroll isn’t making any changes at quarterback after Geno Smith’s second uneven performance in as many starts as Russell Wilson’s injury replacement.

Carroll said the same thing on his 710 ESPN Seattle radio show Tuesday morning when asked if Smith is still the Seahawks’ starter for this week’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“Sure,” he said a day after the Seahawks fell to 2-5 with a 13-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints. “Yes, it is. And we are counting on him to keep improving and to play better around him.”

Carroll said Smith has been “solid” and called it a “phenomenal achievement” protecting the ball as well as he has in the more than two games he has played since Wilson injured his finger in the second half of the loss. Seattle 26-17 against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 5. But he made it clear that the ninth-year veteran needs to do a better job of avoiding unnecessary sacks.

“He’s handling the game well,” Carroll said. “I would like him to get the ball out, to be more open to throw the ball. We talked about that in the locker room after the game. Sometimes those situations happen so quickly, and to make that declaration of giving up the play.” it is something that requires experience. That experience for Geno right now, it’s not quite resolved in the way that he needs to be satisfied, ‘I have to shoot the ball, we have to kick the ball.’ And there is nothing wrong with that. Last night we had two or three sacks that we should not have taken. “

Wilson has to miss at least one more game before he is eligible to go off injured reserve. With the Seahawks on their break after the Jacksonville game, the first thing Wilson could return to is in Week 10 with the Green Bay Packers.

The only other quarterback on their 53-man roster is Jacob Eason, a second-year player who was claimed with exemptions last week. Seattle has two quarterbacks in its practice squad in Jake Luton and Danny Etling. Luton, also a second-year player, made three starts as a rookie. Neither Eason nor Etling have started an NFL game.

Smith completed 12 of 22 passes for 167 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions Monday night. He was sacked five times, two of them on back-to-back plays during the Seahawks’ final series. Another third-down catch early in the fourth quarter pushed them back 11 yards, leading to a 53-yard field goal try that Jason Myers missed.

Since replacing Wilson, Smith has completed 45 of 71 attempts for 507 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. That came late against the Rams, when Tyler Lockett went down before Smith’s pitch came. Smith lost a fumble in overtime in Seattle’s 23-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last week after helping the Seahawks rebound from a 14-0 deficit at halftime.

Monday night’s loss was the Seahawks’ third in a row. In all three, they had the opportunity to tie or take the lead in the last three minutes of regulation time or in overtime and they failed to do so.

They are now five games behind the undefeated Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West standings, and are three games below .500 for the first time since 2011.

“We have to keep fighting because he’s so close,” Carroll said. “We have to keep clawing and clawing and we have to keep building the game around Geno and making sure he can function at a high level.”

Carroll said defensive back Marquise Blair broke his kneecap Monday night and “will have to clean that up.” Blair had been splitting nickelback duties with Ugo Amadi, who he imagines will take on that role. Carroll said he is counting on defensive end Darrell Taylor (neck) and left guard Damien Lewis (shoulder) to play Jacksonville after they were both inactive Monday night.