Geno Smith is not a terrible quarterback

Yes, yes, the title is damning with faint praise. But some forum commenters seem to be assuming that the Seahawks are about as doomed behind Geno as the Broncos were that one game where COVID rules meant that they didn't get a quarterback. That's wildly wrong.

Sure, Geno was bad as a rookie. Lots of players are bad as a rookie. Even a lot of quarterbacks who will go on to be legitimate franchise quarterbacks are bad as a rookie. But Geno has gotten better since then, even if the forum narrative is that the Seahawks are getting 2013 Geno at best and probably something much worse.

Some people want to dismiss the Jaguars game as one game. Fine. Let's expand the data set and consider his nine most recent starts. He played the whole game in eight of them and got pulled the second quarter of one, so that's a little under 8 1/2 games, or just shy of half a season.

December 7, 2014: Vikings 30, Jets 24 (OT)

Geno went 18/29 for 254 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. The Vikings led for more than 57 minutes of regulation after the scoring started with Geno throwing a pick-six on his first pass, but never led by more than nine. The Jets held a brief lead at 9-7, but the Vikings regained the lead less than two minutes later. The Jets would tie the game on a field goal with 23 seconds left in regulation, but the Vikings won on an 87-yard touchdown in overtime.

December 14, 2014: Jets 16, Titans 11

Geno went 16/28 for 179 yards, with 1 TD and 0 INT. The Titans led for most of the game, though never by more than 5. The Jets' first lead of the game came late in the third quarter at 10-8, and they soon gave that up. The Jets would take the lead with just over 3 minutes to go on an 11 play, 76 yard drive that was mostly running.

December 21, 2014: Patriots 17, Jets 16

Geno went 17/27 for 210 yards, with 1 TD and 1 INT. That's actually a lot better than Tom Brady did in that game. The only time that the score difference was even as large as 7 was when the Patriots led 7-0. The Jets actually had a field goal attempt to take the lead with 5:16 remaining in the game, but the field goal was blocked.

December 28, 2014: Jets 37, Dolphins 24

Geno went 20/25 for 358 yards with 3 TDs and 0 INT. The Dolphins took their largest lead of the game at 24-14 on a 97 yard run, but they wouldn't score again. Geno got the comeback started on a 74 yard touchdown to Eric Decker, and the Jets would score on five of their final six possessions. Geno would also hit Decker for other completions of 50 and 40 yards, as well as Jeremy Kerley for 33.

October 23, 2016: Jets 24, Ravens 16

Geno went 4/8 for 95 yards and 1 TD before getting benched in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick with the Jets down 13-7. The Jets' defense would intercept Joe Flacco twice on the way to shutting out the Ravens in the second half to secure the win.

December 3, 2017: Raiders 24, Giants 17

Geno was 21/34 for 212 yards with 1 TD and 0 INT. The Raiders led for nearly the entire game, starting with a 51-yard touchdown from Marshawn Lynch. They would later lead by scores of 17-7 and 24-14. Geno did a lot to bring the Giants back in the fourth quarter, with an 88 yard touchdown drive and a 46 yard drive that ended in a field goal. He couldn't play defense, though, and the Raiders final three possessions were two touchdowns and one that ran out the clock and ended in a kneel down.

October 17, 2021: Steelers 23, Seahawks 20 (OT)

Geno was 23/32 for 209 yards with 1 TD and 0 INT. The Seahawks offense didn't manage to do much early, allowing the Steelers to take a 14-0 halftime lead. They started the second half with two touchdowns in as many possessions, and tied the game on a field goal as time expired in regulation before losing in overtime.

October 25, 2021: Saints 13, Seahawks 10

Geno was 12/22 for 167 yards with 1 TD and 0 INT. The Seahawks started the game off right with an 84 yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf. Unfortunately, they'd only score three more points the rest of the way, allowing the Saints claw their way back and kick the game winning field goal with under two minutes to go.

October 31, 2021: Seahawks 31, Jaguars 7

Geno was 20/24 for 195 yards with 2 TD and 0 INT. This was a game for the Seahawks' defense to dominate, as the Jaguars first points wouldn't come until there were under 2 minutes to go in the game, and then immediately got cancelled by Travis Homer returning the ensuing an on-side kick for a touchdown. But Geno did his part to keep the offense going, too, on a day when Alex Collins and his 44 yards was the only Seahawk to get at least 10 yards rushing.


In total, in his last roughly half a season of starting, Geno is 151/229 for 1879 yards, with 12 TDs and 2 INTs. If you want to scale that to a full season, then doubling those numbers gives you 302/458 for 3758 yards, with 24 TDs and 4 INTs. Either way, that gives you a completion percentage of 65.9%, 8.21 yards per attempt, 5.2% TD%, 0.9% INT%, and a passer rating of 105.0. That's pretty good.

For comparison, Russell Wilson's actual 2021 was 259/400 for 3113 yards with 25 TDs and 6 INTs. Wilson missed some time with injury, but if you compensate by multiplying by 17/14 and rounding, Wilson's stats come out as 315/486 for 3780 yards with 30 TDs and 7 INTs. He had a completion percentage of 64.8%, 7.78 yards per attempt, 6.3% TD%, 1.5% INT%, and a passer rating of 103.1.

Another comparison is that the average NFL team last year was 379/585 for 3881 yards with 26 TDs and 14 INTs. That gives you rate stats of a 64.8% completion percentage, 6.64 yards per attempt, 4.5% TD%, 2.4% INT%, and a passer rating of 88.9. That's markedly worse all around than Geno's stats from his last half-season as a starter.

Obviously, team stats are what matters, not just individual stats. Geno's teams averaged 21.7 points per game in the above nine starts, as compared to a league average of a little under 23 last year. Geno's teams also went 4-5 in those starts, though they did score 30 more points than they allowed.

Does that mean that Geno is an above average starter? No, it really doesn't. For starters, teams with Geno as their starter don't exactly run an air raid offense. They mostly treat him like a game manager and go with a lower volume of passes, which tends to make rate stats look better. While the narrative of Geno being an interception waiting to happen is outdated to the point of being completely wrong, he still fumbles too much, mostly in the process of taking too many sacks.

But it does mean that Geno's track record doesn't justify the claims that the Seahawks are doomed with him as their starter. He'll never be Patrick Mahomes, but neither is he Josh Rosen. He's a decent stopgap starter, and if he stays healthy for a full season, he's got a legitimate shot at being a top 20 QB this year. Considering his salary and the lack of a draft pick needed to acquire him, the Seahawks are likely to get better money/draft pick resource efficiency out of their starting quarterback than an outright majority of the league.