The Seattle Seahawks are outperforming expectations this season, and their offense has been a focal point of this team since Week 1. The “dropoff” from Russell Wilson to Geno Smith has turned out to actually be a step up, and Shane Waldron is play-calling his way into the conversation of potential head coaching candidates. While there are still plenty of games left to be played in 2022, we are well into mid-season and I believe it is fair to say that what we have seen from this offense is not simply a hot streak or a short-term aberration; the marriage between quarterback and coordinator seems to be mutually beneficial, and the Seahawks brass are looking like the smartest guys in the room right now.
Of course, separating play calling from execution can be challenging. Take, for example, Geno Smith’s league-leading completion rate; according to StatHead, he is currently ranked third in NFL history behind Drew Brees 2018 and 2019, respectively. The fact that he is completing more than 70% of his passes might indicate that Waldron is setting the team up with high-percentage throws and quick hitters, which might have been a reasonable expectation during the offseason. While it may be true that Smith’s game isn’t entirely based around the deep ball (his air-yards-per-target is right in the middle of the pack at 7.6, according to rbsdm.com), he has clearly demonstrated a proficiency attacking every level of the defense; his expected completion percentage ranks 22nd in the league, which makes his league-leading accuracy all that much more impressive.
Geno Smith leads all QBs in completion % AND completion % above expected. Pretty wild, given that his expected completion percentage ranks 22nd. His air yards are middle of the pack, but at 7.6 it isn't like he is just the beneficiary of a dink and dunk offense. pic.twitter.com/zbUdvB6zU2— Stan "the Soy Boy" Taylor ️⚧️ (@GoodGuyAtSports) November 21, 2022
His completion percentage above expected is listed at 7.9, which would be the best mark since... Russell Wilson circa 2015; Russ also managed to hit 7.9 CPOE that year. For perspective, both of these marks are tied for the second best since 2010 — second to Philip Rivers and his 8 CPOE in 2013 — which is as far back as the rbsdm data will let me go. Look at the other guys who have topped the league in this category during that time span:
QB CPOE Since 2010
In addition to seeing a cadre of Hall of Fame bound passers, all but two of the guys listed above above ended up in the postseason following their year as CPOE champ; only Tony Romo in 2010 and Jimmy Garoppolo (who didn’t play the full season) in 2017 failed to lead their teams to the playoffs, as the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers each posted 6-10 records during these seasons. Otherwise, all but two of the remaining 11 players have won at least one playoff game and advanced to the divisional round. In addition to this, two teams made it to the Super Bowl — Matt Ryan with the 2016 Atlanta Falcons and Joe Burrow with the Cincinnati Bengals last season. Two others made their respective Conference Championship games (Ryan Tannehill and Aaron Rodgers with the Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers in 2019 and 2020, respectively). These teams compiled a 128-75 regular season record and a 12-10 playoff record. All things considered, Geno Smith is keeping pretty good company right now.
Of course, the annals of NFL history are filled with guys who managed to string together a streak of successful performances before fizzling out of the spotlight. Geno Smith, Shane Waldron, and the Seattle Seahawks still have a lot of work to do before anybody is going to crown them the reigning kings of the NFC West once more. But every week is another opportunity to keep building on this improbably successful season, and they will get a prime opportunity to do just that when they take on the Las Vegas Raiders this weekend, who have Football Outsiders’ worst-ranked defense in both Adjusted DVOA and passing DVOA.