Seahawks can still win with lessons from the 1972 Dolphins

Aug 28, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) returns to the locker room following the first half against the Los Angeles Chargers at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 28, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) returns to the locker room following the first half against the Los Angeles Chargers at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Seahawks season isn’t over, not even with the temporary loss of Russell Wilson. The 1972 Dolphins proved that a team can still win with the right backup QB. There’s a lot of work to do, but the Hawks can still get it done.

The 2021 Seahawks and the 1972 Miami Dolphins don’t have a lot of similarities, and that’s unfortunate for Seattle. The Phins led the league in both offense and defense. Clearly, the Hawks aren’t going to achieve that this season, although there’s still time to fix that. I’m far from the only one who has an idea on how to improve the defense.

But we’re talking about the offense here, 12s, specifically the quarterback. The latest word is that Wilson may only miss three games, as the Seahawks have their bye week on November 7th. The DangeRuss one said early on that he expects to be back in four weeks. The bye, coupled with the few extra days off from the Thursday game, make the three-game sabbatical a bit more likely.

Seahawks could learn from history that Geno Smith will be OK

Regardless, Geno Smith will be calling the signals for at least three games, and it could be for considerably more. Does this mean the Seahawks season is done? Hardly, 12s, as Lee Vowell has already made abundantly clear in his article on the Hawks prospects with Smith under center. Mr. Vowell is correct – of course, he always is, he’s my editor – in that the Seahawks offense performed as well under Smith as it had under Wilson. He also makes it clear that Smith isn’t as good as Wilson, but that he’s good enough.

And that’s the point, and therein lies the parallel with the ’72 Dolphins. See, I did get back to that. Finally. The 1972 Dolphins were the defending AFC champs, and things looked great for a repeat trip to the Big Game. Early in game five against the San Diego Chargers, All-Pro quarterback Bob Griese dislocated his ankle. He fractured a bone in his leg, just for good measure. No more football for you, Bob. At least not until… but I’ll get to that.

In steps Earl Morrall. Morrall wasn’t exactly a career backup, but of his 186 games to that point, he’d started 80. I believe the correct term is, grizzled veteran. Morrall was 37 when he quite improbably continued the Dolphins march to a perfect season. Yes, young 12s, this was the year Miami went 17-0. And their backup quarterback, replacing an eventual Hall of Famer, led them to nine of those 17 wins. Actually, it was10 wins, as Morrall led them to their first-round win over the Browns.

So now we return to Geno Smith. Like Morrall, he has more seasons in the league as a backup than a starter. Also like Morrall, he still has a significant number of starts – 31 starts in 42 career games. I’m not saying he’s the QB Morrall was; the Old Man, as his Dolphins teammates called him, wound up with a career passer rating of 74.1. Smith’s rating currently sits at 73.0. That may seem close, but the game has evolved to a much more passing-friendly environment.

For context, Johnny Unitas, one of the all-time greats and a contemporary of Morrall’s has a career passer rating of just 78.2. Bob Griese, who Morrall replaced to salvage that perfect season, finished with a career rating of 77.1. Here’s where it gets interesting, and a bit scary, 12s. The career passer rating of the DangeRuss one, Russell Wilson, is currently 102.3. That is a huge difference.

However, I think it’s pretty obvious that the Jets, Smith’s original team, were terrible. He didn’t exactly have Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf as targets. Instead, he had Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley, two names that will forever live in the annals of NFL lore. Or not. Oh, and he had Percy Harvin for eight games; all 12s know what a great teammate he is, right?

It’s true that the J-E-T-S bounced back when Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced Smith the following year, but they also added wideout Brandon Marshall and changed coaches. All I’m saying is, Smith deserved better.

Michael Dickson can't be real, can he?. dark. Next

He’ll have his shot for at least the next three games. The Seahawks season is already in very deep waters, as we all know. I agree, Seattle needs to get some extra insurance at QB. Again, Lee Vowell has some very good suggestions along those lines. Geno Smith will be just fine stepping into number 3’s shoes. A perfect season was already out of reach, but Smith can add his name to the history books by getting the Seahawks back into the hunt.