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THE MOJ: Don’t be surprised if Geno Smith keeps the Seahawks soaring

Many factors allowing former journeyman to shine in starter’s role
(Courtesy Bob Marjanovich)

Geno Smith is defying the odds.

The Seattle Seahawks quarterback is having a breakout season and he’s breaking the rules doing it.

You see, breakout seasons usually happen in a player’s second or third year in the game. They’re not supposed to occur in your tenth season as a pro but that’s exactly what is happening with Smith in Seattle.

A former second round pick with the Jets in 2013, Smith flamed out in New York after two seasons as a starter and wound up being the backup for next two. He then spent time as a backup with the Giants (’17) and Chargers (’18) prior to arriving in Seattle in 2019 to serve as Russell Wilson’s caddy.

Three years later at the age of 31, Smith has become one of the NFL’s biggest stories.

I, like most NFL observers, looked at Smith’s pre-season performance and what he had done over the course of his career and thought he would be a placeholder until the ‘Hawks could acquire their franchise quarterback in the draft.

One small problem. Someone forgot to tell Geno Smith.

First, Smith beat out Drew Lock, who was acquired from Denver in the Wilson trade, for the starting job. From there, Smith he has been lights out. Pro Football Focus – a stat source so respected that NBC uses its player rankings in their player intros on Sunday Night Football – has Smith ranked as the NFL’s #1 quarterback a month into the season. Not Aaron Rodgers, not Tom Brady, not Joe Burrow but Geno Smith.

I know what you’re thinking. Most of his numbers are inflated due to checking down as Smith’s 77.3% completion percentage does lead the league but a deeper dive into the stats gives you a clearer picture.

According to NFL NextGen Stats, Smith’s 8.0 Average Intended Air Yards is in the middle of the pack tied with Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and ahead of Brady (7.6) and Burrow (7.7). Smith also has had time to throw according to NextGen as his average of 2.84 seconds is ninth in the league. Given the time, Smith has been able to utilize two great receivers in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf.

There have also been other factors that have led to this perfect storm in Seattle. Running back Rashaad Penny has rushed for 292 yards and is averaging 6.0 yards a carry. The successful ground game has allowed the Seahawks to use more play action and also throw more on first down, which can also be attributed to new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron and the philosophy he has brought with him from the Rams.

And let’s not forget that rookie offensive tackles Charlie Cross and Abraham Luca s have been solid in their debuts.

It’s all part of what has allowed Smith to shine.

Now many are sceptical that Smith can continue his current success but given the factors mentioned, it’s not unforeseeable for Smith to play near or at this level for the remainder of the year.

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media. And check out his weekly podcast every Monday at Today in B.C. or your local Black Press website.

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