“He’s the real deal.”
This is what Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll had to say when asked about Geno Smith’s quarterback play so far this season.
If anyone in the start of the season was to say that the Seattle Seahawks would be in playoff contention after getting rid of their franchise quarterback Russell Wilson; we would have called them crazy! Especially in a talent filled NFC West that have the reigning Super Bowl champions the Los Angeles Rams and the Arizona Cardinals, who went 11-6 in 2021.
The fact remains that the Seahawks are one game behind the first place San Francisco 49ers (8-4), and they are fighting for an NFC wild-card spot.
Before this season, Smith only started five games across the span of six years. Now he’s sitting at the top of the league in completion percentage (72.7%) and currently holds the franchise record for most consecutive games with a 100+ passer rating (six).
These are just two of the reasons why Geno Smith should be paid this off season and if Carroll wants to have success in 2023 and beyond, he should make Smith the Seahawks next franchise quarterback.
Because it’s clear that he already is just that.
Smith has shown all the franchise traits you want.
(Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
When asking, “What is a franchise quarterback?” you will get a bunch of different answers that are centered around the same ideas. Talent, consistency, leadership and most importantly, a guy who fits, understands and trusts the coach’s system.
Most often, that a franchise will draft a guy and then find out later that their prospect is missing one or more of these qualities. What makes it worse is the media hype around young quarterbacks coming out of college. Front offices don’t give their investments the time to develop.
When looking back at Smith’s career, it’s fair to say that he wasn’t really given the time to succeed with the New York Jets, who took him in the second round of the 2013 draft out of West Virginia. Some would say that it was justified, but he was still thrust into the starting role after Mark Sanchez’s departure.
There was a slight improvement in Smith’s stat line from year one to year two, but he only had three wins to show for it. It was only after the locker room tussle (in the 2015 preseason) that pretty much ended Smith’s chances of ever becoming a starter again for the Jets franchise.
Smith was out!
Nobody would have ever thought that he would be playing this well seven years later. Carroll’s [West Coast] offense has really been a perfect fit for Smith’s skillset. As our own Doug Farrar pointed out back in October, Smith has taken control of Carroll’s offense. This is what the coach had to say when asked about his offensive scheme:
“He [Bill Walsh] designed his offense to make it as easy as possible for the quarterbacks because he knew the position was so hard to play. And remember all the catch and run stuff and all the quick rhythm stuff that he was famous for, that was so the quarterback didn’t have to be carrying the load. He can get the ball out of his hands, working with his line and his guys and all that. That just has always resonated. That’s what West Coast is. West Coast is long lost from where it was, but that was all of Coach Walsh’s image of what that position and how it should function in terms of how a team plays football. They’ve featured a tremendous amount of short passing game. He was kind of the guy that started all that.”
This season, Smith has incorporated all the qualifications that it takes to run Carroll’s offense… and he is exceeding expectations!
Winning under pressure.
(Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)
As previously mentioned, this week Smith broke a Seahawks franchise record with the most consecutive 100+ passer rating games, with six. This is all because of Smith’s ability to work within the pocket.
Here is what Carroll had to say about Smith’s performance after last week’s win against the Rams:
“He was in control of it, moved in the pocket really well, really sudden movements to move up, he was consistent and comfortable the whole day and it showed in the last drive, he had no problem at all. Executing the stuff, he didn’t hit everything on that drive, but he hit everything he needed to hit, and really, again he continued to show us that he’s very much at home running our offense.”
Smith has maintained a 107.7 passer rating from the pocket, which is the fourth highest average in the league, per Sports Info Solutions.
Here are a few clips from this season showing Smith’s ability to maneuver within the pocket and throw on-target passes downfield.
Smith showed great poise in the pocket as he waited for his receiver DK Metcalf to clear out. Once he saw that Tyler Lockett had nothing but grass ahead of him, he delivered a strike to hit his receiver in stride so he could reach the endzone.
In the second quarter the Seahawks were inside their own 10-yard line. His center loses the leverage battle and even with a defensive tackle in his lap, he’s able to deliver a strike up the seam.
With the Rams lined up in a cover four defensive shell, this means that the cornerback will be dropping quickly up the sideline. The play call is testing that cornerback and also the safety to that side. The design is to read what the two defenders do.
With the little time that Smith has because of the defensive end coming free and he still has to fake the handoff, Smith gets this ball out before Metcalf even turns around.
This is trust in the system.
He also put trust in his star player Metcalf, on the last drive of the game, which also happened to be against one of the best cornerbacks in the league Jalen Ramsey.
Smith is the quarterback of the present, and he should be the quarterback of the future.
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)
With the Seahawks in a potential playoff position, it would be wise for them to sign Smith to an extension right now. Smith has shown no signs of slowing down with only five games left in the season, and if he continues to play well, it will only give him a bigger payday.
This is what Carroll had to say a few weeks ago when he was asked about signing Smith to an extension:
“That’s a really good question, we’re not there talking about that yet,” Carroll said. “We’re in the middle of the season, and we’re doing the things we need to do. But there’s a conversation that’s coming. We understand that.”
The Seahawks are in a great position for next year’s draft. They have the third and 20th overall selections at this time. If they sign Smith to a long-term deal now, they can fill other holes to improve the team as a whole. Then draft a quarterback with their second pick, or in the later rounds who can sit behind Smith.
With Smith’s talent, consistency, leadership and scheme-fit, he is the perfect player for a young prospect to learn from in the Seahawks offense. He’s undoubtedly proved this year that he is a franchise quarterback; despite the amount of time that it took to get here.
If we’ve learned anything from this, it’s that some quarterbacks just aren’t drafted in the right situations that allow them to flourish. The Seahawks should take this as a blueprint, sign Geno Smith now and give a new prospect time to develop.