One problem for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith this year is that we can compare how he is playing at this point last year to how he is doing so far in 2023. Through seven games in 2022, Smith had 11 touchdown passes against 3 interceptions. He had five games with a passer rating of 99.1 or higher.
Through seven games in 2023, Smith has 9 TDs versus 6 picks. He has just two games with a rating higher than 99.1. He also has two games with a rating of 78.0 or lower. That's not championship-quality play.
In Week 8, Smith started off unbelievably well. He looked extremely sharp as if he wanted to prove any doubters completely wrong. He was 8 of 10 passing, including a touchdown pass, through the first two and a half drives and after completing a beautiful 43-yard pass to DK Metcalf. And then, well...the proverbial wheels fell off for about the next two-plus quarters.
Seattle Seahawks get both good and bad Geno Smith in Week 8
Thankfully on the Seahawks' final touchdown drive, Smith corrected himself and completed 4 of 5 passes including the game-winning touchdown pass to Jaxon Smith-Njigba. But between that 8-for-10 start and 4-for-5 finish, Geno Smith was 9 for 22 with 2 interceptions and almost had 2 more. Add to that offensive coordinator Shane Waldron getting away from the run and wanting to force the pass against Cleveland - you wouldn't be blamed for having PTSD to what the second half of Week 1 looked - and the pass not working, Seattle's offense stagnated.
Smith has a strong arm and can throw tight spirals. We've seen this a bunch of the last couple of seasons, but that is why seeing some of his passes be so wobbly leaving his hand in his bad stretch of Week 8 was so perplexing. He almost looked as if he was playing injured and even Adam Amin and Daryl Johnson on the TV broadcast wondered the same thing.
At times this season, Smith looks tight and if he is afraid of making a mistake. This isn't how he played last year. What's odd is that he has even more job security in 2023 as there is no way he is going to be replaced by Drew Lock as long as Smith is healthy. Plus, Smith is making a lot more money this year after signing a contract extension this past offseason. Sure, Seattle could release him next offseason and not have a ton in dead cap, but that isn't the hope. The Seahawks want Smith to do well.
The issue is that we can't be sure which Geno Smith we are going to get. And not even game to game, but within each game. Is Seattle going to have the Geno Smith that locks on a receiver and throws a pass that is relatively easily intercepted as happened before halftime in Week 8 when Smith was trying to force the ball to Metcalf or the Smith that throws a pass too low over the middle of the field that would have been behind the receiver anyway and became an interception like in the second half against the Browns?
Or will Seattle more consistently get the quarterback who throws mostly dimes in the last minute of games and leads his team to a late victory? Smith has done that last bit three times since the beginning of 2022 which is the most in the NFL. He can be great in big moments, but he just hasn't been consistently great through 2023.
If the Seahawks get good Geno Smith for most of the rest of 2023, the team can make the postseason and be dangerous when there. If Seattle mostly gets bad Geno Smith over the next eight games or so - a stretch that includes the Baltimore Ravens, the San Francisco 49ers (twice), the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Dallas Cowboys - then Seattle could miss the playoffs completely and be looking for a new quarterback as high as possible in the 2024 NFL draft.