Geno Smith was once a second-round pick selected by the New York Jets, a franchise that admittedly has the ability to make or break any quarterback’s career. You have to go back to 1990 before you see any quarterback starting 16 games in consecutive seasons. Geno Smith was nearly the quarterback to break that streak in 2014.
After being selected in the second round Geno Smith flashed ability several times as a young QB. Despite these flashes, he always had a veteran presence to look over his shoulder at, in times of bad play. Whether it was Mike Vick, Ryan Fitzpatrick, or even David Garrard in his rookie year the Jets never seemed all in on the Smith era. It would take another 7 seasons before Smith would find a team willing to name him the starter.
Seattle Shows Faith in Smith
In 2019 Geno Smith was signed to be Russell Wilson’s primary backup. This was a smart move bringing in a veteran quarterback should Wilson get hurt. Which in fact would happen two seasons later in 2021. With Smith as the starter last season, the Seahawks got a glimpse of what was to come if he was given the reigns.
While playing in 4 games and starting 3, Geno completed over 68% of his passing attempts. He totaled 702 yards passing adding another 42 on the ground. He also scored 6 times, producing just 2 turnovers. Amazingly, 2022 has quickly become a career year for the former 2nd round pick.
Through 9 starts, Smith has a 6-5 record, largely due to his ability to protect the ball. He is currently completing just under 73% of his passes while recording nearly a 4-1 touchdown to interception ratio. Currently, Geno has accounted for 20 total touchdowns, just 5 interceptions, and 5 fumbles. This has led to a 107 QBR so far on the year.
How Has He Found Success?
The truth is, Smith isn’t the established quarterback that Wilson is. He doesn’t have the ability to go off script without jeopardizing his starting position long-term. Geno knows this and has played within the confines of the Seattle system. The entire mantra in Seattle has always been to win as a team until Wilson began to be considered elite. This led to coaching decisions and decisions by the previous quarterback that hurt the team in big situations.
Look no further than the decision to throw a goal-line pass that was ultimately intercepted and returned for a touchdown. (Eagles fans better keep that in mind as well, Hurts isn’t the elite-level passer Wilson was) In 2022 this is no longer an issue. Smith knows his role and is happy to have it. He is allowed to lean heavily on the run game while spreading the ball around to many quality weapons.
With DK Metcalf, and Tyler Lockett at 92 and 78 targets respectively, Noah Fant is 3rd with 41, and the #2 tight end is right behind him with 31. From there it’s WR3 Marquise Goodwin with 25, RB Kenneth Walker with 25, TE3 Colby Parkinson 16 targets, and WR D’wayne Eskridge with 13. This is showing that Smith is spreading the ball around and taking what the defense gives him. Two recipes for success as a quarterback. It’s when an offense keys too heavily on one receiver or the run game that they become easy to predict.
It certainly has helped Smith that the Seahawks have rededicated themselves to the run. In seven games they have run the ball 270 times while throwing the ball just 355 times. This puts the Seahawks at a balance of 56/44 slanted to the passing game. A very solid balance between the run and pass in the modern era. A lot of Smith’s passes have amounted to an extension of the run game, falling into the hands of a receiver before he gets 5 yards past the line of scrimmage.
Six Games Left to Cement A Legacy
Let’s not sugarcoat this situation. While Geno is the starter today, he has not cemented his position for the future yet. With eight games to go, this will be a very interesting situation to follow. Can Geno continue to play efficient ball-control football? Can Carroll and the coaching staff stick to the current formula going forward, or will their perception of Smith change due to his performance and promote them to take more risks? Geno has the rare chance to play himself into a second act as a starter, and so far he has taken advantage of the situation.