For the first time since the 2012 season, the Seattle Seahawks will start a season with a new quarterback. For much of the past six months, the question was whether that quarterback would be the boom or bust (but mostly bust) Drew Lock or the yawn-inducing, game-managing Geno Smith.
On August 26th, we got our answer: Pete Carroll confirms Geno Smith will be the Seahawks’ Week 1 starting quarterback.
Now, it should be noted that Pete Carroll never said that he expected Geno Smith to be the starter all season. Pete didn’t even say that Geno would start the Week 2 game in San Francisco. All Pete said was that Geno would be the Week 1 starter.
For the moment though, let’s assume that Geno holds onto the job all season.
If that were to happen, what would it take for Geno to have what could be considered “a career season”?
Let’s dive into the QB stats and find out.
Games Played (and Starts)
After being selected with the 39th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Geno Smith took over as the starting quarterback of the New York Jets. He appeared in - and started - all 16 games that season.
FTR’s Take: Geno benefits from the league adding a 17th game. Had that not happened, the best he could do is tie his career high; now, he has a chance to top it.
For his career, Geno Smith has 3 fourth-quarter comebacks. Two of them occurred during his rookie season (2013); the other one happened the following year.
FTR’s Take: 2 to tie, 3 for the win.
Geno Smith has led 7 game-winning drives; 5 in 2013 + 2 in 2014.
FTR’s Take: With the Over/Under on Seahawks wins this season being 5.5, Geno has his work cut out for him.
Geno threw 443 passes during his rookie season.
That works out to 27.7 passes per game.
Last season, Seahawks quarterbacks had a combined 495 pass attempts (29.1 per game) so, technically, Geno could have a career high in 2022 if he starts enough games.
FTR’s Take: Does anyone really think the Hawks are going to throw the ball 29 times a game this year? (I don’t.)
Geno’s career high is 247 completions - a mark that he hit his rookie year.
For what it’s worth, Russell Wilson has topped that mark every single year, including last year when he missed 3-1/2 games.
In fact, the last time a Seahawks quarterback failed to top that mark was 2008 when Seneca Wallace led the team with a mere 141 completions. Of course, he only played in 10 games that year (8 starts).
Taking that a step further, no quarterback in team history has appeared in every game in a given season and completed fewer than 248 passes.
FTR’s Take: If Geno completes an average of 15 passes a game (and starts all 17 games), he’ll clear what appears to be a pretty low bar and land at 255. Infinitely doable.
Geno’s career average is 58.8, but his career high is 68.4, which is the mark that he hit last year while Russ was on the sidelines. Is that replicable? Time will tell. But for Geno to have a career year in this regard, he needs to hit 68.5%.
FTR’s Take: This is a tall order - especially when you consider that it’s a bar that RW3 only cleared once during 10 seasons in the Emerald City.
Geno threw for 3,046 yards in 2013. That’s an average of 190.4 yards per game. Last year, he averaged 175.5 yards per game. That same average over 17 games would get him to 2,983 (point five) yards.
Three thousand yards (and change) seems like an attainable goal, right?
Would it surprise you to learn that only 24 quarterbacks topped the 3,000-yard mark last season? Or that only 18 quarterbacks topped it in 2020 and only 25 topped it in 2019?
FTR’s Take: This one may be just out of Geno’s reach.
Yards Per Attempt
In 2016, Geno Smith appeared in 2 games (1 start) for the New York Jets. He completed 8 of his 14 passes for 126 yards. That’s an average of 9.0 yards per attempt.
Small sample size, yes.
FTR’s Take: Theoretically, it’s possible. Realistically, there ain’t no way that Geno’s going to end the season with his average pass attempt being 9.01 yards or higher.
Note: Joe Burrow finished last season with an 8.9 average. Jimmy G. was 2nd at 8.6. Matthew Stafford was #3 at 8.1. The last time someone topped the 9 yards per attempt mark was 2019 (Ryan Tannehill, 9.6).
Yards Per Completion
Remember Geno’s 8 of 14 for 126 performance from 2016? Well, that’s also the stat line that gave him his career high in yards per completion at 15.8.
For the sake of comparison, Geno’s average yards per completion last year was 10.8 and the second-best mark over the course of his career is the 12.3 yards per completion that he racked up his rookie year (2013).
FTR’s Take: Given the fact that Russell Wilson’s career high is 13.1 ... nope, not happening.
Touchdowns (and Touchdown Percentage)
Geno’s career high in touchdowns is 13, way back in 2014. He’s thrown a total of 9 touchdown passes since then. Although, to be fair, he’s only had 5 starts between 2015 and 2021.
From a touchdown percentage perspective, that 8 of 14 for 126 performance again rears its head as 1 of those 8 completions was a touchdown giving him a career high touchdown percentage of 7.1.
Last year, Geno had 5 touchdowns on 95 attempts for a TD percentage of 5.3.
FTR’s Take: This is a high bar for Geno to clear and I think he’ll come up short. That said, it won’t surprise me if he tops (or at least comes very close to) last year’s mark.
Interceptions (and Interception Percentage)
Geno threw 21 interceptions his rookie season (vs. only 12 touchdowns). That’s an INT percentage of 4.7. Last season, Geno’s INT percentage was 1.1 - out of his 95 pass attempts, only 1 was intercepted. Excluding seasons in which he didn’t throw an interception (2017, 2018, 2020), last year’s mark is his career-best.
Note: Geno threw 36 passes (with no INTs) in 2017. In 2018, he threw 4 passes. In 2020, he threw 5. Normally, I’m not a fan of excluding things, but zero divided by anything equals zero and a zero percent interception rate over a 17-game season doesn’t seem like a reasonable bar to judge him by.
FTR’s Take: Single digit INTs seems like a tall order. Single digits with an INT rate of 1% or less seems ... well, I would say “impossible” but Aaron Rodgers has done it each of the last 4 years.
Note: From 2018-2021, Rodgers threw a total of 15 INTs on 2,223 pass attempts for a 4-year INT percentage of 0.67. In 2018, he threw 597 passes and was only intercepted twice (0.34%).
Geno threw 5 touchdowns last season and only 1 interception for a TD-to-INT ratio of 5:1. His next-best mark is 2:1 in 2015, a season in which he only appeared in 1 game.
Interestingly, RW3 only topped the 5-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio once during his 10 seasons in Seattle. That was in 2019 when he threw 31 touchdowns vs. only 5 interceptions (6.2:1). RW3 matched the 5:1 ratio in 2018 (35 TDs, 7 INTs).
FTR’s Take: I’ll be surprised if Geno matches, let alone tops, his 5-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio from last season. That said, something in the range of 3:1 seems like a reasonable goal.
Over the course of his career, Geno Smith has taken a sack on 8.6% of his drop backs. His career low is 6.7%, from 2015 - a season in which he appeared in only 1 game and was sacked 3 times on 45 pass plays.
For those that think those marks are high, Russell Wilson’s career low was 7% (2016) and his career average is 8.3%.
Of course, it could just be a Seattle thing.
Note: Patrick Mahomes’ career average is 3.9% and his worst season was 5.4% (his rookie year).
FTR’s Take: I’m taking the Over on this one.
Last season, Geno Smith posted a passer rating of 103.05 which perfectly matched Russell Wilson’s passer rating. For Geno, it was his career high. For Wilson, it was basically par for the course (since his career passer rating is 101.8). League-wide, 103.05 was the 5th-best mark last year (among players with 50 or more pass attempts).
For his career, Geno’s passer rating is 75.7. But during his time with Seattle, it’s 27 points higher at 102.7. Of course, he’d only thrown 5 regular season passes while with the Seahawks prior to last year, but he completed 4 of those 5 passes for 80 yards.
Can Geno do it over an entire season though?
FTR’s Take: The smart money would be on “No” - especially given the fact that Geno’s passer rating during the preseason was 78.6.
It would be unreasonable to expect Geno to top his career-best marks in most of these categories, but coming close in a few of them might be doable.
FTR’s Take: I would consider it a “career year” if Geno’s stat line looked like this after 17 games: 400 pass attempts with 260 completions for 2,800 yards with 21 TDs, 7 INTs, and 34 sacks.
Those numbers would give him a 65% completion rate, averages of 7 yards per attempt and 10.8 per completion, a TD percentage of 5.25, an INT percentage of 1.75, a TD-to-INT ratio of 3:1, a sack rate of 7.8%, and a quarterback rating of 95.6.
Only the marks in bold would be career highs.