clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Geno is stacking up, somehow

Hot statistical start has him in VERY interesting company

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions
and he’s running well, too
David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Geno Smith is not better than Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. He’s not better than Russell Wilson. He’s not better than Joe Burrow. He doesn’t have Matt Stafford’s arm, ring, or endorsement deals.

But he is turning heads. With whiplash. Because he’s been better than all five of them, on the stat line. With a quarter of the season gone. Which may not be much, but it isn’t nothing either.

I grabbed this quintet of quarterbacks to compare with Smith, not entirely at random. There’s the new guy from the Denver Broncos, because we’re familiar with him; the defending AFC champion; the defending NFC champion; the GOAT; and the GOAT-in-waiting.

Truth be told, you could place Geno alongside Josh Allen, Pat Mahomes, Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson and he’d compare favorably too. And I’ll even do a little of that downthread. But first, it’s fun to compare Smith to his predecessor and his immediate conference peers. And we should definitely do this while it’s still fun.

Geno vs. Five Guys

QB Passing Yards Yards/Attempt Total TD Passer Rating Sacks Taken
QB Passing Yards Yards/Attempt Total TD Passer Rating Sacks Taken
Geno Smith 1037 7.9 7 108.1 6
Russell Wilson 981 7.5 5 91.2 12
Joe Burrow 1099 7 8 91.3 16
Tom Brady 1058 6.8 6 99.9 7
Aaron Rodgers 935 7.2 6 95.6 9
Matt Stafford (3 games) 761 7.5 4 86.3 9

Leaders in bold, of course.

Now it’s already been highly publicized that Smith tops the NFL in completion percentage (77.2) so I wanted to grab the accompanying stats. He’s third in yards and second in total TD in this group but leads the pack in the other three categories. Including sacks, which is extraordinarily refreshing, right?

Smith has been more efficient, careful, and productive than people he should be looking up at. Which isn’t even the whole story, of course. Overall, against everyone instead of just our small sample, Smith barely drops off. He’s top 10 in all the major traditional statistical categories. Top 10. All the categories. Top 10. The typing will continue until morale improves. Top 10.

And the only one who can say this:

Advanced stats like him too. Why shouldn’t they? He’s been good. Better than good.

If you’re seeing this kind of chart for the first time and want a quick explainer, think of it thus: More to the right = more accurate, and more to the top = more productive per play. You don’t want to be in the bottom left. In the middle is fine, if you’re a run-of-the-mill decent starting QB. The Kirk Cousins and Derek Carr types live there. There’s also an orange dot smack dab where all the axes meet. Huh.

Bottom line: It’s fair to say Geno Smith has been a more accurate version of Josh Allen. A souped-up Stafford. The anti-Baker Mayfield.

So I made another chart with the six pretenders from earlier, only this time with metrics the more analytically inclined among us will appreciate.

Advanced Geno is Elite Geno

QB EPA/play CPOE EPA/CPOE composite Success Rate Air Yards
QB EPA/play CPOE EPA/CPOE composite Success Rate Air Yards
Geno Smith 0.272 11.7 0.21 54.7 8.4
Russell WIlson 0.108 -0.1 0.084 38.8 8.2
Joe Burrow 0.13 0.2 0.1 45.1 7.5
Tom Brady 0.091 -0.2 0.08 44.1 8.5
Aaron Rodgers 0.058 3.1 0.096 46.5 6.5
Matt Stafford 0.117 9.3 0.142 56.4 7.6

It’s an actual rout in the advanced stats; Smith has far outplayed Wilson. The Seattle Seahawks QB has been one sixth of a point better than the Broncos QB on average every play. If they both drop back six times, Geno is worth an additional point to his team. In fact, Smith creates more expected points per play than Brady, Rodgers and Stafford combined.

Bird’s eye view: Smith is first or second in each of the columns, bested only by Tom Brady’s air yards and Matt Stafford’s success rate. Each time by only a sliver, too.

In case you’re wondering, Smith’s composite in the final column leads the whole NFL, a notch above Patrick Mahomes (0.197) and Jalen Hurts (0.190). No other way to put it — besides his ill-advised final throw against the Atlanta Falcons, Geno has been elite.

That’s a lot to process. Plus there are mitigating factors.

A) The Seahawks won’t get to face the Detroit Lions defense again anytime soon, and they account for a quarter of the sample.

B) Remember the San Francisco 49ers game? That was the one with zero offensive points. It happened two weeks ago. Just because it feels like two years ago doesn’t mean it was. That goose egg matters.

C) The offense is coming off a probably unbeatable outing. How unbeatable?

That unbeatable. Nobody’s been better than the Week 4 Seahawks yet this season. Not the Buffalo Bills in Week 1 when they disassembled the Los Angeles Rams; or in Week 2 for that matter when they slayed the Tennessee Titans. Not even the Lions this week, haha.

Deep breath. This is probably the highest our Seahawks will fly.

While I don’t expect Seattle to flip Smith anytime soon to the Carolina Panthers for two firsts, a third, and two starters, he has been overall one of the most pleasant surprises on this roster. No. Wait, scratch that — so far, Geno Smith has been one of the most pleasant surprises in the entire National Football League. Maybe his storybook season comes crashing to a (predictable) end facing the New Orleans Saints next week.

But maybe it doesn’t?