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Former NFL MVP says Geno Smith could be Comeback Player of the Year

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at New Orleans Saints Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

As improbable as it seems, Geno Smith is playing at an MVP level. The stats back it up and ever since Pete Carroll declared it was time to open up the playbook for the Seattle Seahawks quarterback, he’s been outstanding.

Unfortunately, the Seahawks sit at 2-3 and even though the offense ranks #1 in DVOA, it is inarguable that the extremely bad play by the defense is the main culprit for the team’s losses. It is not reasonable to ask the offense to score on practically every drive, and yet that’s what was required to even get past a 1-4 Detroit Lions squad that promptly got shutout the following week. If Seattle was sitting at 3-2 or 4-1, Geno might be in the MVP conversation (as meaningless as that tends to be in early October).

In the bigger picture, whether the Seahawks are a playoff team or not, if Smith continues his stellar outings he may find himself as an NFL Honors recipient come February. One analyst vouching for Geno Smith as a Comeback Player of the Year contender is Rich Gannon, who himself had a dramatic career turnaround with the Raiders and went from an unremarkable journeyman to league MVP.

From NFL Monday QB on CBS Sports Network:

“How about Geno Smith, guys?” Gannon said. “I mean, [Adam Schein], we get those votes for Comeback Player of the Year... if it’s not Saquon Barkley, it may be Geno Smith. Look at what he’s done. He was a major disappointment his first four years with the Jets. He spent a year with the Giants and of course with the Chargers, the last couple of seasons with Seattle.

“He’s a different player! He’s taking good care of the football. Look what he’s done in his last three games — he’s completing 72% [of his passes], the Seahawks are scoring 34 points a game, and he’s throwing for over 300 yards a game. And the best thing about it? He’s protecting the football. He’s thrown seven touchdowns and just a single interception. This is a different Geno Smith that we’re seeing in Seattle.”

Comeback Player of the Year can be awarded to someone who’s coming off serious injury, bad performance, or not being in the league for a bit, so there’s a broad spectrum for viable candidates. Barkley blew out his ACL in 2020, was very ineffective in 2021, but already has 533 rushing yards to start 2022 and looks more like the Saquon we saw at Penn State and in his first year with the Giants. He is very much a worthy contender and given the Giants are 4-1, he might be a favorite right now.

In my completely biased opinion, Geno should be a frontrunner for this award given his circumstances are far more extraordinary. The idea of a quarterback playing at this level eight years removed from his last full-time starting job (which went very poorly) is unprecedented, and given the context of replacing a franchise legend he has been one of the NFL’s best early-season stories. Even if his numbers aren’t as prolific the rest of the season I think he’s performed above and beyond what even the most optimistic fans could’ve imagined. He has made throws that high-level NFL QBs make, and that’s not me being over the top.

All of this is to say, shoutout to Rich Gannon for giving Geno some shine.