After entering the game in the fourth quarter in the Seahawks loss to the Rams, Geno Smith looked very comfortable running the Seattle offense. Let me be very clear here because I am already assuming people are going to see the headline of this article and think I am saying Geno Smith is better than Russell Wilson. I. Am. Not. Saying. That.
But those of us who watched the Seahawks loss to the Rams on Thursday cannot not ask the question: The way the Shane Waldron is supposed to be designed, is Smith just as good at running it?
Yes, the Rams didn’t scheme for Smith before the game, of course. They did for Wilson. But here is the argument for that. The Seattle offense is designed to run a certain way – screen passes, passes to the tight ends, dumping off to running backs when needed – no matter who the quarterback is.
The shock is just how easy Smith made it look. His quarterback rating ended up being only 78.3 but that is mostly based on an interception he threw that wasn’t his fault. Receiver Tyler Lockett tripped on the play and Smith threw it to where he thought Lockett was going to be and Lockett never made it to that spot.
Seahawks offense looks smooth with Geno Smith at quarterback
Smith also was in total command of the offense once he came into the game. He stood at the line, reviewed the Rams alignment, changed plays as needed, targeted Will Dissly twice (both completions and in spots where Dissly could run after the catch), swung passes to running backs Alex Collins and DeeJay Dallas but also threw a touchdown to D.K. Metcalf and put the ball in a perfect spot for that.
Smith also ran when needed for 23 yards on 3 carries. Let’s not kid ourselves that the Rams were simply playing back and letting the Seahawks offense pick up yards underneath and not give up the big play. When Smith entered the game he did so when Seattle had the ball on their own two and down just 16-7. The game was far from over. Yet, Smith led Seattle on a 98-yard touchdown drive using every element of the Waldron offense.
Seattle scored 10 points with Smith and 7 with Wilson. Again, I am not saying Smith is better than Wilson as a football player because he isn’t. Smith simply took what was given him by the Rams defense which is exactly what this Waldron offense is supposed to be like. Wilson still appears to look for the home run ball too much and holds on to the ball too long.
Heck, Smith even threw the ball away a couple of times when there was nothing developing downfield. It is telling that while Wilson averaged 9.5 yards and attempt to 7.7 for Smith, Seattle in four drives under Smith the Seattle offense averaged 6.6 yards a play overall (164 yards in 25 plays) compared to 5.4 yards a play with Wilson as quarterback (190 yards in 35 plays).
That and in the 10-play 98-yard touchdown drive Seattle faced just one third down. In the next drive, an 11-play drive that ended up in a field goal Seattle faced just two third downs. Why? Because the Seahawks were picking up first downs early in a new series of downs instead of getting themselves in third-and-long situations.
But the fact that when Smith played on Thursday the offense ran smoothly and scored points against the same defense than in the three previous quarters the Seahawks offense mustered fewer points and was less efficient could lead to the question: Is the Seahawks offense not being great in 2021 more about Russell Wilson or Shane Waldron?