BY Art Thiel 01:02AM 08/09/2019

Thiel: Paxton Lynch, Seahawks QB savior (?!)

Paxton Lynch, the underdog in the backup QB race, not only helped lead the Seahawks to a 22-14 win, he was able to stick it to his previous team, the Broncos.

QB Paxton Lynch broke free on a nine-yard scramble for a touchdown. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Mock, if you must, the NFL exhibition season. Go ahead and call fake football the worst full-price thing on the national sports calendar. Besides the fake football of the Pro Bowl, I mean.

The cruel rhetoric cannot shield the bright light of truth that was seen Thursday night at the Clink. I’m pleased to say I was there when Paxton Lynch rose from mud and leaves to overtake Russell Wilson as Seahawks quarterback, and stepped over the carcass of his former team to do it.

What a story.

Or, if you insist:

What? A story?

Well, yeah. Sorta.

Maybe Lynch didn’t quite surpass Wilson. But at the moment he has one more passing touchdown and one more rushing touchdown than the NFL’s most expensive player.

Lynch has to be scored the winning pitcher in the Seahawks’ 22-14 triumph (box) over the Denver Broncos. So he’s 1-0 in exhibition season, whereas Wilson, who didn’t play a lick for the first time in his career, remains stuck on a four-game losing streak from August a year ago.

Seems to me we at least have a quarterback controversy.

Playing the entire second half, Lynch produced better results than his sometimes dubious work in training camp, completing 11 of 15 passes for 109 yards and a rating of 115.7, plus 38 yards in four scrambles. Besides Wilson’s 0h-fer, the other camp QB, Geno Smith, was 3-of-9 for 58 yards, and 21 yards on three scrambles.

Quibblers will make the point that Lynch’s work largely came against the portion of the Broncos roster made up of people who will be Amazon van drivers after Labor Day. At least Smith had to square up against salty veterans like All-Pro DE Von Miller.

That did not diminish a bit the grin on Lynch’s face.

“It felt great,” he said. “It felt good to have all that hard work pay off.”

Post-game, coach Pete Carroll added to the drama by dropping his veil of secrecy and disclosing that Smith will have a cyst removed from a knee, a minor procedure that nevertheless will keep him out five to 10 days.

“We’re hoping for that,” said Carroll, who allowed as to how they are looking to bring in another quarterback.

In the intense NFL calendar, 10 days is at least an eon or two where Smith can’t compete against Lynch, the definite underdog entering the game in the backup QB race.

The Lynch saga was enhanced Thursday because he beat the team that used a No. 1 draft choice, 26th overall, on him in 2016. He was the third quarterback taken, behind Jared Goff and Carson Wentz.

But after starting just four games in two seasons (four TDs, four INTs), Broncos boss John Elway unceremoniously cut him on the eve of the 2018 season. No NFL team gave him a sniff, so he had to sit out the season.

“While everyone else was playing, I was sitting at home, watching TV,” he said. “I was working hard, building myself up, trying to get back where I was.

“I was excited when Seattle gave me the opportunity to come here.”

He was so excited that he appeared to throw some shade on his days as a Bronco.

“It feels closer, it feels like a family,” he told reporters after practice Aug. 2. “I bring my fiance out here, I bring my dad out here, and they even say it, too. They feel so much more welcome around everybody; they treat them so good. They treat the players good. It feels like you’re part of a family. It feels like everybody’s close.”

Naturally, that made news in Denver. Before the game at the Clink, Elway returned service.

“I don’t know how Seattle runs things,” Elway told The Athletic. “I’ve never been in their camp, just played against them. But I feel comfortable with where we are as far as being friendly.

“I will say this: If you don’t have success, nothing is very friendly, and when he was in Denver he didn’t have a lot of success there. So therefore, I can understand in his mind why it was not a very pleasant stay in Denver. And it’s too bad it happened. I’m glad he’s getting another shot up here, and it’d be nice to see him have some success.”

Lynch after the game dismissed any revenge factor.

“No,” he said. “I know that there was some talks that it was about this or that. I love those guys. They mean a lot to me.”

Probably true. But Elway likely wasn’t among “those guys.”

Depending on how things go in Seattle, the flop in Denver, however embarrassing for Elway, may have been worthwhile for Lynch.

“There was was a lot that went into this,” Lynch said. “Having that year off played a big part. I just wanted to go out there with my guys and win a football game and show those coaches they can trust me if my number is ever called upon. I felt like I did a good job in that.”

Carroll agreed.

“He did a really good job,” he said. “Handled himself well. Good tempo with the game, and ran the ball really well. He’s a big unit (6-foot-7) running — you saw that down by the goal line.”

That was a reference to Lynch’s sweeping nine-yard scramble for a score that put away the game 22-6 with 12:55 remaining. His goal-line spin after a collision was a tiny echo of Elway’s famous “helicopter spin” in Super Bowl XXXII. Which is probably another thing Elway didn’t want to hear.

Other virtues accrued for the Seahawks: Quality special teams play, notable rookie debuts for the University of Utah rookie tandem of SS Marquise Blair and LB Cody Barton, a startling variety of blitzes that produced a safety from safety DeShawn Shead, and four catches, one for a TD, by undrafted rookie WR Jazz Ferguson.

Balancing that out were 15 penalties for 131 yards, a sprained ankle for RT/TE George Fant, and a temporary shortage of running backs so severe that Xavier Turner, a free agent signed off the street Wednesday, saw his first Seahawks action of any kind when he stepped into the opening huddle Thursday. He led Seattle with 42 yards rushing.

But anytime a team can manufacture a quarterback controversy out of a preseason game, even a positive one, it’s a worthy August evening.


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YourThoughts

  • 1coolguy

    So good to see FOOTBALL back! Though just a no-count preseason “game”, it changes the Seattle sports scene (with Husky FB) for the better!
    Lynch looks like a baller, even though in a preseason game – hope he keeps it up.

    • art thiel

      He’ll probably get another chance, this time against the adults, in Minnesota.

      • Husky73

        Perhaps an undrafted, record setting quarterback, will play for the Vikings?

        • art thiel

          If Kevin Hogan can get in the game with the Broncos, Jake Browning can get in the game with the Vikings.

        • 1coolguy

          It would be great if Jake made it, but his arm strength would have had to go through a transformation that I just don’t see possible. I know he went to a camp before the draft to strengthen his arm (why didn’t he do that each summer in college?) but I think it’s a bridge too far.

          • art thiel

            Jake just isn’t an NFL-level QB.

          • 1coolguy

            Agreed. Best future is coaching.

          • ll9956

            My contrarian streak says it would be sweet to see all you naysayers proven wrong about Jake. That would be really sweet. He may not have the strongest arm, but he’s mentally stable and calm and doesn’t let errors freak him out.

          • 1coolguy

            He will be out by the end of preseason. Just doesn’t have it. His superlative soph year was due to Ross, Dissly and Pettit (all are in the NFL) and McClatcher to throw to. His fall off his junior and senior years was not a coincidence.

          • Husky73

            He’s the greatest quarterback in Husky history.

          • 1coolguy

            Stats are for losers. If CP had done his job and recruited excellent QB’s (as he has now), Jake wouldn’t have started his junior or senior year. He was simply the best of a weak group of QB’s, and that’s on CP.
            Jake had 1 great year, when he was throwing to 3 guys who are now in the NFL, Ross, Pettit and Dissly and another who will be in McClatcher.
            They weren’t there his junior and senior years and the drop-off was substantial in Jake’s game. No longer could he just throw it long to Ross and Pettit, he had to get it into tight windows, and with his weak arm he couldn’t do it.
            He’s a great kid and did very well at UW, but your thinking he was the best in UW history tells me you have not paid attention to the UW QB’s over the years or you are related to Jake, which seems most likely.

          • Husky73

            Stats are for losers? Then, why do we keep them? Please let me know when past, present or future Husky quarterbacks throw for 12,296 yards, 958 completions, 94 passing touchdowns, 16 rushing touchdowns….and WINNING 39 games, two Pac 12 championships and four Apple Cups. I’ve been paying attention to Husky quarterbacks since 1959.

          • 1coolguy

            Moon, Hobert, Brunell, Tuiasosopo, Chandler, Pickett, Price, Pelluer, Flick and Sixkiller – There may be more, but I would pick any of these before Jake.

          • Husky73

            I loved them all……Except that none of them had Jake’s career.

          • art thiel

            I think it would be great too. He’s a great kid who will succeed at anything he does, except being an NFL starting QB.

  • Kevin Lynch

    Lynch’s are odd folk. But wunnerful. Apparently, the name’s association with hanging comes from Galway in Ireland when the mayor’s son, a Lynch, committed a murder. A judgement was rendered. But no one would hang the mayor’s son. So the mayor did it. Hung his own boy. This story, like most distillments from the Emerald isle that are not drunk, may lack some validity. Welcome to Ireland. I hope Patrick succeeds.

    • art thiel

      Thanks for the pleasant history. I suppose some Broncos fans thought similar things about Paxton during his time in Denver.

    • 1coolguy

      What an odd post, ugh…

  • dingle

    Preseason football? Ugh. Wake me in September.

    Oh, and it’s heartwarming to see Chris Petersen throw roadblocks in front of a young guy’s football career: https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/ncaafb/chip-kelly-still-no-fan-of-washington-after-huskies-block-qb-transfer-becoming-eligible-in-2019/ar-AAFxj8N?li=BBnba9I.

    Perhaps coaches should have to sit out a year when they “transfer” schools….

    • art thiel

      I’d prefer coaches donate 10 percent of their salaries to a Living Wage Fund for players.

      • dingle

        That’s definitely a better idea.

  • Effzee

    Geno Smith is exactly as terrible as I thought he was.

    • art thiel

      He could be a cyst away from greatness.

      • Kristafarian

        Oh, Art, that gives me Hope!

  • WestCoastBias79

    Geno is a known quantity, Lynch still has some upside where if you squint you can maybe blame his Denver failure on coaching. If he has a great preseason, make him the backup and start the massive rehab of his reputation, make him one of those hot backups, and trade him for a high pick to a desperate team next year. That’s the best case I can come up with because if we see him starting at any point this season we’re screwed.

    • Husky73

      Remember how the backup quarterbacks did in the first preseason game in 2018, 2014, 2011, 1994, 1988, and 1979? Me neither.

      • art thiel

        It’s why I said fake football is the worst full price item on the calendar.

    • art thiel

      I don’t think Lynch is the next Garappolo, not until he does something against No. 1 defenses. In camp, he’s shown little accuracy while on the move. I hope my column was understood to be tongue in cheek.

      • WestCoastBias79

        My response was also a wee bit tongue in cheek. Where’s the sarcasm font?

  • Effzee

    The more important question is when do we get to see the Hawks in 80’s throwback uniforms?