MMQB’s Breer: How Seahawks’ Geno Smith contrasts with Russell Wilson now

Jun 6, 2023, 11:43 AM | Updated: 12:34 pm

Seahawks Broncos Geno Smith Russell Wilson...

Seahawks QB Geno Smith and Broncos QB Russell Wilson shake hands on Sept. 12, 2022. (Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

After parting ways with longtime quarterback Russell Wilson in a blockbuster trade last offseason, the Seattle Seahawks turned to Geno Smith to lead the charge. Let’s just say 2022 couldn’t have gone differently for the two QBs.

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Smith was a Pro Bowler who led the Seahawks to the playoffs, finishing first in the NFL in completion percentage and in the top 10 in passing yards and touchdowns.

Wilson, meanwhile, had the worst year of his career in his first season in Denver, and the Broncos finished last in the AFC West.

Smith’s career resurgence and offseason prep was the topic of an Albert Breer column for Sports Illustrated and the Monday Morning Quarterback, which you can read here.

On Tuesday, Breer joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk (podcast below or at this link) to talk about Smith and Wilson, who Smith had backed up from 2019-21.

One story that stood out to Breer from talking to Smith recently was that after the Seahawks’ playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers, he didn’t take any time off away from the game and instead got right back to work, staying at the team’s facility to work with strength coaches.

“I think where a lot of players would take that time to decompress, he wanted to build on the momentum that he had built over the course of his first full season starting in I think it was eight years,” Breer told Brock and Salk. “And then I think you sort of look at how that’s rubbed off on some of his teammates and there’s a lot of reasons to be optimistic about where he’s going.”

When asked by Brock Huard if he could write that piece without associating it with Wilson, Breer laughed.

“It’s hard not to, right?,” he said. “… There’s definitely, I would say, a juxtaposition. I thought what was so interesting about it was, I mean, did you guys know about all this work (Smith) was doing? No, right?”

“I hadn’t heard about all this because Geno didn’t care to tell anybody, right? And if Russ was doing this, we would have gotten a video from the Seahawks’ weight room in January, some highly-produced video,” Breer later added. “And look, everybody does things their own way, but I think it’s sort of interesting and I think it probably goes a long way in explaining why his teammates have such great respect for him, because he’s not putting himself out front publicly of all these things but privately he’s very much leading the way. Again, I don’t know whether or not he’s gonna be the quarterback of the Seahawks for the next five years, but I think he’s doing a lot of the right things to put him in position to have that shot.”

Breer also thinks Smith is in a better position to “appreciate that opportunity that’s in front of him” than Wilson is.

“I think one thing about Russ, he became such a big star so quickly. Like, all that happened so fast, and I think that that definitely had an effect on it,” Breer said. ” … I think Geno’s gonna have a better appreciation of what’s in front of him and better perspective, and certainly (the Seahawks) got the most out of him. I mean, how differently do we look at (Seahawks offensive coordinator) Shane Waldron now than we did last year? I think you can look at a lot of people in that building a lot differently.”

One of those people is Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, who was often criticized for the belief that he was holding Wilson back in terms of how good he could be. After last season, that perception has clearly changed considering Smith’s career year and Wilson’s massive struggles in Denver.

“I’ve always thought Pete’s got a really good sense for people – like really, really great emotional intelligence. So he understands what makes people tick and how to get the most out of people,” Breer said. “And I think schematically, too, you see some of the things that they were able to do for Geno, to get them going sort of dovetails with the fact that they knew what was best for Russ all along. And when Russ finally got what he wanted (in Denver) … how did that look? Denver gave him what he wanted. And now a year later, Sean Payton’s coming in there (as the Broncos’ new head coach).”

“So I think it’s a great lesson in getting the most out of players and even to some degree with some quarterbacks that the way they want to do things isn’t always what’s best for them or their skill set,” Breer added later.

Breer buying stock in Geno over Russell

Huard posed a simple question to Breer, asking him to buy stock in one of the two quarterbacks going forward.

Breer went with Smith for a few reasons.

“I would say Geno because I think Geno’s in a more stable situation right now and the team is more invested in him,” he said. “And that sounds weird because Russell’s got a huge contract and the Seahawks can get out of (Smith’s) contract after a year, and the Broncos would have a really hard time getting out of that contract after this year. I would not ignore the signing of Jarrett Stidham in Denver.”

Stidham, a former fourth-round pick of the New England Patriots in 2019, signed a two-year deal for up to $10 million to join Payton and the Broncos, presumably to back up Wilson.

“I know that sounds crazy, but they gave him $5 million dollars a year, and I think to some degree for Sean Payton, Jarrett Stidham is going to be like the baseline. Like, ‘Look what I can do with Jarrett Stidham.’ Like in preseason games and practice, ‘Look what I can do with Jarrett Stidham. So you’d be better be on it, Russell, because if you don’t I’m not afraid to walk away from you,'” Breer said. “And I know it sounds crazy, because Jarrett Stidham has been a backup first for years in the league, but I do think that was kind of an under-the-radar signing that should not be ignored … I think there’s there’s definitely a new sheriff there in Denver. I think it’s Sean Payton’s show there where I think in in Seattle there’s much more of a partnership between team and player at this point, which again, sounds wild. If I had told you that a year ago, you’d never have me on again, right?”

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