Geno Smith is making football fun again
Where Geno ranks in the NFL and in Seahawks history
It’s raining in Los Angeles on Monday. Perhaps even good weather will decide to move north this winter, just as it seems good football has so far this season.
The Seattle Seahawks were the most consistent butt of the criticism by NFL media this offseason for their short-term roster decisions, and while I rarely took part in those shots, I also failed to give Pete Carroll the benefit of the doubt when he said that the team was being underrated and overlooked. Either that was coach speak and Pete is genuinely as surprised as the rest of us—which would explain a prolonged quarterback competition that by all accounts did not have a winner until a mid-camp illness forced a decision.
Or Pete knew that everything the team could do with Russell Wilson, it could manage to repeat with Geno Smith at a much lower price. If that’s the case, then actually Pete underestimated Geno, too.
There was only one point all offseason in which I wrote that Geno Smith winning the competition and then having a good season would at least be a fantastic story. I wish I had leaned into that a lot more.
At least I was not alone on that hill of doubt, as most Seahawks fans were split between nonplussed and unforgiving when it came to Pete’s decision to hold a competition between two quarterbacks with more experience as backups than as starters, as well as his final choice of the veteran question mark instead of the younger question mark.
We were all in that boat and that was probably the best place to be on the eve of a season so unprecedented and unexpected: Now we can be united in our awe of Geno’s 6-3 Seahawks.
This morning’s post is going to veer into “BONUS” territory. Sign up for Regular Joes or become a founding member to read the entire article or just to help support the newsletter:
L.A. woke up on Monday to the sign of raindrops as the defending Super Bowl champions try to solve a 3-5 mystery after losing to the failing Bucs this week, but the Seattle Seahawks get out of bed ranked fourth in scoring thanks to an offense so balanced, you could eat it for breakfast.
The Seahawks (Geno) rank seventh in net yards per pass attempt (6.7), but also third in yards per carry (5.2) with help from Kenneth Walker, Rashaad Penny, and the offensive line. The only teams that are quite challenging Seattle for balance in those two categories would be the Buffalo Bills (7.3 NY/A, 5.1 YPC), but Josh Allen has also thrown eight interceptions in eight games. And the New Orleans Saints (6.8 and 5.0), but Andy Dalton is so obviously not enjoying the same level of late-stage success as the younger Geno.
Really though, is any quarterback having as much success right now as Geno Smith? Nobody seems to having more fun.
While Seahawks fans might have had mixed emotions about the quarterback competition and the lack of a starter who was perceived as an adequate russplacement, there was at least a united front about one thing: Seattle was not fun to watch or follow over the last few seasons.
You could start with the 2016 campaign, when the Seahawks dropped from fourth in scoring to 18th. You could start with the 2017 campaign, when the Seahawks then fell from third in scoring defense to 13th and missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record. (And the defense hasn’t fully recovered since—more on that in a moment.) Or the 2018 campaign, as Pete’s Seahawks lost a wild card game for the first time ever.
Or 2019, when the defense reached a new low and Seattle somehow emerged from a +7 point differential to finish 11-5 in spite of themselves.
No matter when you choose to start your version of the “Frustration/Forgettable Era” for the Seahawks, we all now know when it ended: When the Seahawks traded Russell Wilson.
This is not to put the blame on the former starting quarterback. It is only to emphasize that Seattle hit a checkpoint and the reset button in March, so fly or fail, this would at least be a new era for the Seahawks.
The Seahawks swept the Cardinals for the fourth time under Pete Carroll by beating Arizona 31-21 on Sunday (not only their fourth straight win, but their fourth straight by double digits) and Geno Smith finished 26/34 passing with 275 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, and 38 rushing yards. Though Geno had one other pass that should have been intercepted, and a third tipped ball that could have been intercepted, he answered a question that had been at the front of criticism for over a year.
Could he play from behind in the second half and still win?
After his pick-six, Geno responded with a touchdown drive that included third down passing conversions of third-and-12, third-and-3, and third-and-6 (TD) to re-take the lead. On his next drive, Geno ran for a first down on third-and-7 and was the main character en route to another touchdown to give Seattle a 10-point fourth quarter advantage.
When the Cardinals answered to cut the lead 24-21, the next play by the Seahawks was a 51-yard completion from Geno to Noah Fant.
How long has it been since Pete and his quarterback looked this happy together?
How long has it been since Seahawks fans were joyful about their opportunity to watch the Seahawks every week?
The sun is shining brighter than usual in Seattle this year*.
**it’s actually below 40 in Seattle today
Now look where Geno ranks after nine games—more than halfway through Seattle’s season—not only among his 2022 peers but as compared to the best campaigns by Russell Wilson and in Seahawks franchise history: