One of the storylines for the Seattle Seahawks’ Week 17 game against the New York Jets is quarterback Geno Smith playing versus the team that drafted him. Smith’s career was largely written off after four seasons with the Jets, of which the last two saw him play sparingly due to poor performance and injury.
Not only has Smith stayed in the NFL but he has revived his career with the Seahawks, posting impressive numbers on his way to a Pro Bowl selection. Seattle finds itself out of a playoff spot at the moment, but many expected the Seahawks to be well out of playoff contention in Week 17.
As Smith prepares for his first start against the Jets, he told media at his weekly press conference that he’s just treating this like a regular game (with the added importance of Seattle’s playoff hopes being at stake).
“I just feel like the importance of it is that we need a win to get to the playoffs,” Smith said when he was asked if there was any extra motivation this week. “Obviously, there will be some speculation and talk about that, it comes with the territory; it’s to be expected. I have a lot of love for the Jets, the organization and the people that are still there that were there when I got drafted. For me and this team, it’s business as usual, another week to prepare and a tough challenge for us to go out there and try to get this win. We need it.”
Smith signed with the Seahawks in 2019 but didn’t get his first regular season playing time until a blowout win over the Jets in 2020. Geno’s story of sitting on the bench and starting just twice from 2015-2020 is well documented. That Smith has even become a full-time starter again a whopping eight years removed from his previous starting gig is unheard of. Geno reflected on how he’s evolved as a person and as a player.
“I’ve just gotten wiser, and I’ve grown,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of time to learn, be able to sit, grow, and learn from other guys, and I’ve been around different coaches. As anyone else in life, as you get older, you get better. If you try to get better, you get wiser, learn new things, and learn about yourself, so overall, I haven’t really changed that much, but I’ve grown in a lot of different areas.”
Asked specifically how he’s grown as a player, Smith added, “I would say that I am a much smarter player, I have more knowledge than I did then. I was a rookie learning things and was learning as I go, but all of those lessons that I learned in that time and throughout the entire span of my career has led me to be a little different, but not too much.”
This year Smith has defeated the Los Angeles Chargers and New York Giants, so beating the Jets would not only complete a hat trick of wins against his former teams, it would keep the Seahawks’ slim playoff hopes alive and eliminate the Jets from the AFC wild card race.