“Can the Seattle Seahawks win a Super Bowl with Geno Smith?”
This seems to be the popular question used these days to debate whether or not the Seattle Seahawks should sign Geno to a long term contract.
Seattle Sports 710 morning talk show host Mike Salk uses this question on callers and guests in support of his belief that Seattle should not pay him a lot of money, but instead, they should add an expensive pass rusher like Vita Vea (via trade) and go with Drew Lock as QB1. If I were a caller or a guest on his show, I would probably counter that Vita Vea and Drew Lock sounds a lot like the Tampa Bay Bucs when they had Jameis Winston and a great defense was wasted because of it, but that’s just my view.
But I’ve seen other people asking this question lately on blogs and social media, as well. For me, I don’t know how useful of a question it is other than to hang onto prior beliefs about Geno Smith, and then perhaps use it as future ammo against Seattle brass, if they fall short of a Super Bowl title with him at quarterback on a bigger contract.
Personally, I prefer to lean towards reality, and realistically right now, I think there is about a ninety percent chance that Geno signs a contract to stay in Seattle. I also believe that contract is probably going to be longer termed, and it’s going to induce sticker shock with some folks. I’m not fighting it, and I’m not sweating it, either.
If Seattle signs Geno Smith to a three or four year contract, I am taking that as a positive sign that they believe that they can win a Super Bowl with him at quarterback, and if we trust John Schneider to properly evaluate a rookie quarterback (as many people love to say he’s pretty good at), then we should probably equally trust him about Geno Smith. Again, this is just my view on it, but don’t let my novice football insight sway you.
Pro Football Focus also believes that Geno’s high level in 2022 wasn’t fluky, and there’s nothing to indicate that his play isn’t sustainable. If we are to use advanced analytics as a measure as to what a player is worth, PFF’s analytics say that Geno is worth a lot and a big four year contract could be in his future. Here are their exact words regarding his production.
“Nothing about what he’s doing is fluky or excessively bolstered by things like play action, an outlier performance in unstable metrics like passing grade against pressure, or any other method you use to try to poke holes in his production this season. Smith’s 79.8 overall grade and 87.6 grade from a clean pocket this season ranked ninth and 12th, respectively.. His 14 passing touchdowns on throws of 20-plus yards were two more than the next-best quarterback, and his 5.6% big-time throw rate ranked fifth.. There’s no current indication we should expect some massive regression, either..We can go on and on, but the fact of the matter is that Smith played like a legitimate top quarterback in the NFL in 2022.”
Okay. Cool kids love to look at analytics to support their views, right?
Well, you are certainly free to disagree with Pro Football Focus, but the entire basis of their business is to break down all the minuscule deets on individual player performances. With quarterbacks, it’s not just about throwing for 300 yard, 3 TDs, and O INTs in a game; it’s also about the player throwing an accurate ball that was dropped, going through progressions, and throwing to the right read on the given play, etc.
PFF is quite fond of Geno Smith as a quarterback. They were fond of him during the 2022 preseason when a lot of fans felt “meh” and pined for Drew Lock, and they stayed fond of him through the regular season, as well.
Essentially, they’re now saying dude is pretty good, and should be paid as such. Pretty good in the current quarterback market is probably greater than $25 million a year. That’s just the facts, Jacks.
Now, you can say “thanks for everything Geno” and wish him well somewhere else. You can hope for Seattle to give Drew Lock a shot and/or draft Will Levis or Anthony Richardson. Your beliefs are yours, and I’m not one to say they’re wrong, or stupid, or whatever. I’m just going to ask this line of questioning as it pertains to these 2023 Seattle Seahawks looking to improve.
What does 72 year old defensive minded head coach Pete Carroll want to do at quarterback right now with his team that just made a surprising playoff run?
Does Pete Carroll want to continue with a guy he knows really well, and knows can play well for him in his system as he adds a few more pieces around him with the high draft picks he has?
Or does he want to bring along a raw highly drafted rookie, or a raw inexpensive veteran like Drew Lock and spend more in free agency with hopes of catching the 49ers?
Call me crazy, but my hunch is that Carroll really wants Geno Smith back. On top of that, I kinda think that at the VMAC, Carroll tends to get whatever he wants more times than not.
And for those who doubt how much Carroll wants Geno back, and think that his 2022 production, while good, is not the end all be all, I suggest you look a little bit farther into what is really, really, REALLY important to Pete Carroll. It’s his culture.
Pete Carroll is many things as a head coach. He’s a master motivator, he’s defensive minded and believes in protecting the ball, taking the ball away, yadada yadada yadada da.. right?
Above all of this, Pete Carroll is a supreme culture builder and maintainer. Geno Smith is a big time Pete Carroll culture guy, make no mistake about it.. BIG TIME.
The locker room LOVES Geno Smith. On top of proving more than capable in the Shane Waldron offense, Geno has demonstrated that there’s no substitute to hard work and endurance in the face of doubters and odds makers. I would not underestimate how much that means to Carroll as he continues to build this program.
For every cheap vet they take a flyer on, or late round rookie they draft, or undrafted rookie they sign, Coach Carroll can now point to Geno Smith and say “look, the whole league gave up on this guy, but I believed in him, and gave him a chance.. and look at him now.”
Do not think for a second that Carroll doesn’t believe that is vitally important to his way of coaching. I am not certain about a lot of things, but I feel pretty certain about this.
So, yeah, as I weigh all this out, I think the very safe bet is that Geno Smith is going to be the Seahawk QB1 for the next few years, or more. This is what my gut tells me, and I believe that not only is his play likely sustainable, I think it’s likely only going to get better. I bet Seattle believes this, as well.
I don’t think they’re too hung up on his age. Yes, he’s 32, but he’s only been a starter in this league for a totality of three seasons. now. Of course, he’s got room to grow as a passer. Why wouldn’t he?
And why should we assume that he’s got only two or three seasons left of quality play? On what basis?
He’s not taken a lot of hits over the years, and judging from the naked eye, he keeps himself in peak conditioning. In fact, at this point, he looks like a much better athlete than the quarterback he replaced here in Seattle.
If we are to give a younger quarterback the benefit of the doubt about growing and getting better as a passer after his first few seasons starting, why wouldn’t we give Geno Smith the same benefit?
My hunch is that Seattle is preparing to give his this benefit of doubt, and I think it’s likely for a three or four year contract. I think Seattle believes that they can win a Super Bowl with him, and frankly, I think they can win a Super Bowl with him, as well.
I think the plan is straight forward. If they cannot reach a deal with him before the start of free agency, they will use the franchise tag on him.
I think they would love to get the deal done before free agency in order to know how much remaining cap dollars they will have available to be shoppers at other positions. If they cannot reach a deal before free agency, that likely hinders what they can do, and I think they would prefer to avoid that.
That may not matter so much in the bigger picture because I think, big picture, the draft haul that they have from Denver is going to truly define their future Super Bowl chances. In short, I think the Seattle plan is to do the inverse of what you would do with a quarterback on the rookie contract; I think they want to pay Geno and build around him mainly through the draft.
The Seahawks have ten picks in this draft class and four picks within the top sixty. They pick 5th overall and 20th in the first round. In round two, they pick 37th and 52nd. They can and might likely will trade back in the first round for more picks with either the 5th or 20th (or both). They could end up with five or six picks in the top sixty.
Seattle’s biggest needs (assuming that Geno will be back) are interior defensive and offensive linemen, and probably off ball linebacker. Low and behold, judging from what has come out of Senior Bowl week, this draft looks potentially very good at defensive tackle with some good interior offensive linemen and linebackers, as well. With two picks in the top twenty of this draft, and four in the top sixty, Seattle has ample flexibility to attack this draft for these needs.
I won’t go through all the scenarios in my mind about what Seattle could do (there’s a lot, actually), but let me throw out one example of what Seattle could do in this draft. I think this is a good one.
Let’s assume that they didn’t make any big splashes in free agency, but got a bit of work done adding to the roster with some value signings. Maybe they added a DT, a running back, a linebacker, and shelled out a bit more cheddar on a decent veteran guard. At five, Seattle selects Texas Tech edge rusher/defensive lineman Tyree Wilson.
At 6-6 276 lbs, Tyree is a guy getting a lot of buzz right now for Seattle at five. If you look at his highlights online, you can see why.
He’s super long with 36 inch arms, he looks crazy explosive, and maybe most importantly for Seattle’s needs, he can line up all over the front seven either in a three point stance (like an end or a tackle) or a two point stance (like a linebacker), and make splash plays against the run and pass. He also has a frame to which he can add more mass over time. He can grow to become a Richard Seymour or Arik Armstead type, or he can stay closer to where he’s at, and be like Michael Bennett. If he is a good combine tester, he’s going to appeal to Pete Carroll greatly, and as they continue flirt between using 3-4 and 4-3 stuff, a versatile explosive dude like him up front could become quite invaluable.
Now say at twenty, Seattle drops back a bit towards the back end of round one. Let’s say the Giants are hot for a receiver and offer Seattle picks 25 and 89. At 25 and 37, Seattle lands Minnesota Center John Michael Schmitz and Wisconsin DT Keeanu Benton, two of the brighter stars that came out of the Senior Bowl week. Seattle gets a talented athletic center who fits their zone blocking scheme, and a DT who is big enough to play nose and yet athletic enough to play three technique and can pass rush at both spots.
Boom. Two significant pieces added to the front seven and a significant piece added to the offensive line. Maybe 2023 will bring some growing pains for all three players, but maybe all three make early impacts like Charles Cross, Abe Lucas, Tariq Woolen and Ken Walker had in 2022.
Either way, with Geno Smith signed for multiple years, a picture can be easily painted for Seattle to make a Super Bowl run, especially if they additionally find bright young talents at picks 52, 83, and 89. Speedy, hard hitting Washington State linebacker Daiyan Henley could be there at 52, and maybe they add a couple quality offensive weapons in round three, or a really good guard or corner.
This is but one scenario worth fantasizing about, and who knows? Maybe Seattle does take a swing on a quarterback at some point who they think can developed into having a bright future as a starter. Illinois QB Tommy DeVito drew praise at East West Shrine Bowl practices for showing the ability to pick things up quickly from coaches and throwing with good anticipation and placement. Perhaps, he’s a guy they low key like and are willing to take a shot on later in the draft.
Regardless, having the quarterback situation taken care of prior to free agency, and definitely before the draft is likely critically important to them. If Seattle believes that they have that position solidified with Geno Smith, I am more than trusting that, and if his contract prevents them from being big free agent spenders, I’m not going to sweat it.
At the end of the day, I would rather see this team built up through this draft, anyways, and if next season we see Tyree Wilson, John Michael Schmitz, Keenu Benton, and Daiyan Henley are all Seahawks along with Geno Smith and what’s also on this roster, well then, bring on the f’ing 49ers. Maybe the Seahawks aren’t Super Bowl winners next year, but I’m going to like their chances a lot greater in 2024 and 2025 with a young roster built up quality talent, and a cagey, mature, well conditioned veteran at quarterback who knows how to get it done within their scheme.
I have to think they’d like the prospects of that, as well. In fact, I think this is the likely plan.
And yes, I believe that they can win a Super Bowl with that.