Geno Smith, Pro Bowl.
Mark it down. Start the campaign.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s early, all the disclaimers apply. But the Seahawks quarterback has already exceeded every prediction by such a great distance that it seems risky to contend he can’t keep it up. Underestimate him at your own peril.
Sunday, with Smith in command, the Seahawks beat another struggling team, the Detroit Lions, 48-45. Missing a trove of injured stars, the Lions still put up 520 yards against the Hawks, while Seattle continued much of the defensive negligence that led to earlier defeats.
But an important point was proven: The Hawks may not have the manpower to compete against the elite clubs this season, but at least they managed to outlast another team fighting to get up to the level of lower-tier competitiveness. To be 2-2 at this point seems a minor victory.
The Seahawks offense rediscovered its capacity to score after halftime (perhaps having changed the supplier of halftime orange slices). And the rushing game, behind Rashaad Penny’s 151 yards, was at a throwback level of earlier Pete Carroll attacks.
Smith had his best game of a shocking season, passing for two touchdowns and 320 yards while also running for 49 yards on seven carries. He answered on big play after big play, making perfect reads and getting the team in and out of the proper plays.
He threw in the pocket, he threw under pressure, he threw off his back foot with Lions in his face. He fit the ball in tight windows to tight ends, and on an important third down late in the game, he fired a rocket shot to Tyler Lockett on a slant to convert. The velocity is still there.
Smith connected with DK Metcalf seven times for 149 yards and six times for 91 to Lockett. Three tight ends made seven catches, as Smith delivered the ball to whomever he could find open.
Pro Bowl? Long way to go, but it’s fair to toss it out there. Smith led the league in completion percentage coming into the game and added a passer rating of 132.6. Sunday’s hot quarterback showdown was between Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and Buffalo’s Josh Allen. Allen finished with a 68.4 rating to Jackson’s 63.0, which, combined, doesn’t add up to Smith’s 132.6.
Smith turns 32 next week, but he has low mileage, and has had plenty of time as a backup to recover from his early action starting in 2013 with the New York Jets. Between 2015 and 2020, he had just two starts. Once an early second-round pick, he had become an afterthought.
The consensus on him, after having backed up starter Russell Wilson in Seattle the past three seasons, was that he might be an adequate short-term fill-in who might manage the offense without being able to win games with his own talent. Some evaluators ranked him as the worst starting quarterback in the NFL coming into the season.
And that was fair, going on the historic lack of production.
But there were some things the analysts couldn’t know: What goes on in the heart of a proud athlete after having been humbled? How much had been learned during those lean years? How much competitiveness can still simmer inside somebody after so much disappointment?
Smith saw his opportunity after the trade of Wilson and earned the position with a strong preseason. The savvy he’s shown might have been expected after having spent so much time in the film room and on the sidelines. His judgment has been almost flawless and his accuracy exceptional. Accuracy for a quarterback is generally consistent and bankable once they discover it. And fact is, Smith rarely throws a bad pass.
Have the Seahawks ever had anybody so lightly regarded, in fact widely dismissed, who ended up being something of a star? Hard to recall.
Smith had a great quote early in the season when he was asked about having been “written off” by critics.
“They wrote me off … I ain’t write back, though,” he said.
It seems like he’s writing back every week, now. Very eloquently and convincingly, his message is something along the lines of “how do you like me now?”
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