Geno Smith threw for a career-high 369 yards on Sunday.
Good for him.
Geno was 4-for-5 for 50 yards (technically 4-for-6, but one of them was a spike) on what ended up being the game-winning drive.
His 47 pass attempts were a career high, and his 31 completions were one shy of his personal best.
Now that the happy thoughts and congratulatory statements are out of the way, I have bad news for anyone , including myself, who thought that Geno Smith might be “the answer” for the Seattle Seahawks in the post-Russell Wilson era.
I take no delight in making that statement - I like Geno Smith and was optimistic that he could be “the one” . . . at least for the next few years. Especially after the way he started his reign as Seattle’s QB1.
Here’s Geno’s stat line from the first nine games of the 2022 season:
- 207 of 283 (73.1%)
- 2,199 passing yards (244.3 per game)
- 17 TDs (6.0%) vs. 4 INTs (1.4%)
- Passer rating of 109.6
That was a heck of a way for Geno Smith to start his reign as Seattle’s QB1 and it made a lot of the 12s downright giddy.
However, as we know, that initial burst of magic did not last.
Here’s Geno’s stat line over the back nine last year (i.e., the final 8 regular season games, plus the playoff game):
- 217 of 324 (66.9%)
- 2,336 passing yards (259.6 per game)
- 17 TDs (5.2%) vs. 8 INTs (2.5%)
- Passer rating of 95.1
As you can see, the passing yards increased (yay!) but everything else went the wrong direction: minus-6.2% on his completion rate, minus-0.8% on his touchdown rate, plus-1.1% on his interception rate, and minus-14.5 on his passer rating.
A lot of us shrugged that off because Geno’s overall numbers for the season were good (ex. 69.9% completion rate and 100.9 quarterback rating). Plus, he led the Seahawks to the playoffs and won the Comeback Player of the Year award.
What a difference a few months make.
In the simplest terms, 2023 has not been kind to Geno.
One might be inclined to say that the Geno Smith we’ve seen over the first half of the 2023 season is on par with the Geno Smith we saw over the second half of the 2022 season, but . . .
That would be overly generous.
The truth of the matter is that even with his stellar game against the Commanders, the Geno Smith we’ve seen thus far this season is worse than the Geno Smith that we got at the end of last season.
Here’s Geno’s stat line through the first nine games of the 2023 season:
- 196 of 300 (65.3%)
- 2,171 passing yards (241.2 per game)
- 11 TDs (3.7%) vs. 7 INTs (2.3%)
- Passer rating of 89.2
Note: Prior to his performance against the Commanders, the 2023 version of Geno Smith was averaging 225.3 yards per game (minus -17.9), his INT percentage was 2.8% (plus-0.5%), and his passer rating was 86.4 (minus-2.8). His completion rate (65.2%) and TD rate (3.6%) didn’t change nearly as much between Week 9 and Week 10.
To spare y’all the trouble of scrolling up, here are the numbers for each of the three 9-game (aka half-season) segments of Geno’s reign as Seattle’s QB1:
- First 9: 73.1%
- Second 9: 66.9%
- Third 9: 65.3%
Average passing yards per game:
- First 9: 244.3
- Second 9: 259.6
- Third 9: 241.2
Touchdowns and TD percentage:
- First 9: 17 (6.0%)
- Second 9: 17 (5.2%)
- Third 9: 11 (3.7%)
Interceptions and INT percentage:
- First 9: 4 (1.4%)
- Second 9: 8 (2.5%)
- Third 9: 7 (2.3%)
- First 9: 109.6
- Second 9: 95.1
- Third 9: 89.2
To state the obvious, those are some significant differences - especially when you look at the first 9 and the third 9.
For example, between the first half of the 2022 season and the first half of the 2023 season, Geno’s INT rate has climbed from 1.4% to 2.3% and his passer rating has plummeted (20.4) points.
That’s. Not. Good.
The vast differences in Geno’s stats notwithstanding, the Seahawks’ record through 9 games this year matches their record through 9 games last year.
Let’s not forget though that the 2022 Seahawks followed up their 6-3 start by dropping 5 of their final 8 regular season games . . . and then got bounced in the wildcard round to finish the year 9-9.
As a reminder, here’s Seattle’s remaining schedule this season:
- Week 11: At Los Angeles Rams
- Week 12: Vs. San Francisco 49ers
- Week 13: At Dallas Cowboys
- Week 14: At San Francisco 49ers
- Week 15: Vs. Philadelphia Eagles
- Week 16: At Tennessee Titans
- Week 17: Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
- Week 18: At Arizona Cardinals
The optimist that I usually am says that the Seahawks will do better over the back half this year than they did last year.
But . . .
The Seahawks have three division games over the next four weeks and five of their final eight games are against teams that would be in the playoffs if the season were only ten weeks long: Dallas, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco (twice).
In fact, the only “easy”(ish) game that’s left on the schedule is the Titans, and that game will be played in Tennessee which means a 10am kickoff for Geno Smith & Co’s biological clocks.
To be clear, I’m not expecting Seattle to stumble to the finish line this year (or to need help to make the playoffs).
In fact, I’m still standing by my preseason prediction:
Ever the optimist, I’ve got the Seahawks going 13-4 and capturing the NFC’s top seed (via tiebreakers).
That said, I’m definitely wondering if whatever success Seattle has this year will be because of Geno Smith or in spite of him.
At this point, you might be thinking that I would prefer to have Drew Lock starting instead of Geno Smith.
As I’ve shown, Geno’s numbers are trending downward.
However, I think that Geno’s numbers are better than Drew Lock’s would be under similar circumstances.
Note: Drew Lock was 2-for-6 (33.3%) for 63 yards (51 of which came on one play) with a quarterback rating of 73.6 when he (briefly) took over for Geno Smith in Week 4.
More to the point, it seems pretty clear that Geno’s teammates and coaches still believe in him.
As long as that remains the case . . .
. . . and as long as Seattle is competing for a playoff spot (which I think they’ll be doing through the end of the season) . . .
I think right move is to stay the course with Geno and hope for the best.
Who knows, maybe Geno Smith can rediscover the “magic” that fueled his hot start in 2022, and I’ll be writing a follow-up article in mid-January proclaiming that “The ‘real’ Geno Smith is back!”
I’m not holding my breath though.
Bottom line: Unless there is a drastic upswing in Geno’s performance over the next nine games, I think John and Pete could, and arguably should, be shopping for a new quarterback during the offseason.
The good news is that and they don’t have to go very far to find a good one.
That’s an article for another day though.