The New York version of Geno Smith isn't entirely dead and gone
In the wake of Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers being completely impervious to all the issues that come with being a quarterback with a gunslinger reputation, it's easy to forget that those two are completely unique in the history of football.
It's why I have a soft spot for Geno Smith — it's not his story that enthralls me so much as it is the way he plays. Geno Smith is a throwback to my formative years as a football fan, watching the likes of Steve McNair, Donovan McNabb, and Daunte Culpepper as a grade-school kid, pestering my dad with the names of all the guys I saw on NFL Prime Time. He's not afraid to throw the ball anywhere, in any situation. Sometimes that comes with some weird-looking interceptions, but that's the price most teams pay for having a guy who makes the kinds of throws Geno does.
But that version of Geno seemed to miss his flight to Cincy. Harassed and harangued all game long, Geno started to crawl back into the shell that made him the most hated Jets quarterback since, well, the last one, anyway. Opportunities were missed, open throws went ignored, and despite the stats Smith put up, it was one of the worst starts he's made as a Seahawk.
Pressure will do that to a quarterback. It even cost Peyton Manning a couple of Super Bowls. It's no secret that it's the fastest way to disrupt an offense, especially if your offense can stay on schedule in turn. But with Geno, it's even more pronounced because of the way he plays. He's not the type to hold the ball for longer than he should, but he does make throws into windows that would make even Brett Favre pause.
Bottom line is, if the Seahawks can't protect their quarterback, they're in for longer days than most. To seasoned Seahawks fans, this is nothing new, of course, but it bears repeating for posterity.
All told, though, I can't help but be optimistic about the results. The Bengals are a Super Bowl contender at their peak, they played one heck of a game with an equally impressive game plan, and they still only won by 4 at home in a game the Seahawks played themselves out of. Not to mention, Seattle still has one more weapon left to integrate into their offense in Zach Charbonnet. This team isn't done evolving, isn't done healing, and isn't done climbing. And if this is them at their most vulnerable, then Kyle Shanahan might already be hearing footsteps behind him.