“They wrote me off, but I ain’t write back, though.” Geno Smith stated those words after the Seahawks pulled off a shocking Week 1 victory over their former quarterback Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos. But who knew the season would turn out as it did for both teams after the 2022 Monday night opener concluded? If I had to guess, I would say at least 95 percent of the NFL fanbase, including the national media, thought that Wilson and the Broncos would go on to have a successful season.
But sometimes, things aren’t always what they seem in the National Football League. Denver would become one of the NFL’s biggest disappointments of the 2022 campaign, while Seattle shook the entire landscape of the NFC by qualifying for a playoff berth. No one expected that type of season from the former West Virginia Mountaineer.
The narrative coming out of Seattle was that Smith would be a placeholder until the Seahawks found a quarterback they covet. However, he never performed like a quarterback that served as a bridge to a younger starter. Smith posted a career-high 4,282 passing yards, 30 touchdown passes against 11 interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 100.9. He also received the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year Award. But those weren’t the only accolades that Smith achieved in 2022. He also finished 5th in the league’s MVP race and was named to the Pro Bowl. Under Smith’s leadership, the Seahawks’ offense was ranked ninth in offensive points per game (23.1) and 15th in EPA per play.
In the offseason, the Seahawks immediately locked up Smith to a three-year deal worth over $105 million. With a new multi-year contract and a talented supporting cast, Smith’s second season as the Seahawks’ man under center holds great promise. However, it wasn’t always like this for the veteran QB.
After being taken in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the New York Jets, Smith has seen his share of more downs than ups in his professional career. After beginning his initial stint with the Jets, Smith has served in backup roles with the Giants, Chargers, and recently with his current team, the Seahawks, before beating out Drew Lock for the starting job. Lock was a part of the package that sent Wilson to the Broncos in last year’s blockbuster trade.
Smith’s success with the Seahawks highlights the significance of finding a system that caters to a quarterback’s skill set. It’s rare to see a quarterback like Smith have a second act of his career where they can be recognized as an upper-echelon starter. In today’s NFL landscape, young signal callers are given at least two or three years to show they can lead a successful franchise.
Working under the guidance of former offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, Smith thrived in an offense that maximized his abilities. Waldron’s innovative approach and tailored game plans were pivotal in Smith’s career-best numbers 2022. Stepping into the void left by the departure of Wilson was no easy task, but Smith handled it with poise. Embracing the team’s rebuilding phase, he showed remarkable leadership and a willingness to mentor the next starting quarterback if Seattle decided to go in that direction. Smith’s professionalism and dedication to the team’s success have earned him respect among teammates and coaches.
Seattle enters the upcoming season with one of the league’s best rosters that features young talent. Running back Kenneth Walker III, second-round pick Zach Charbonet, and the receiving duo of DK Metcalf and Tyler provides Smith with a formidable arsenal of weapons through the air. However, a player to be on the lookout for this season is rookie wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. He was the first wide receiver selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. If appropriately utilized, his skill set can elevate the Seahawks’ offense to a different level. The current Seahawks core represents the most talented and well-rounded supporting cast Smith has had in his career. With the addition of rookie cornerback Devon Witherspoon and wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njgiba, the team has further fortified its strengths.
The depth and skill of the roster bode well for Smith’s continued success as the Seahawks’ starting quarterback. With a schedule that begins by facing quarterbacks such as Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff, rookie Bryce Young, Joe Burrow, and Deshaun Watson in the season’s first seven games, we’ll get a clearer picture of what Smith’s encore will look like. But as the optics indicate, the Seahawks front office has given Smith every resource needed to have a repeat performance of his 2022 campaign.