STACY ROST

The Next Day: Seahawks’ Geno Smith shows why he’s Carroll’s QB

Nov 13, 2023, 9:26 AM

Seattle Seahawks Geno Smith...

Geno Smith of the Seattle Seahawks attempts a pass against Washington on Nov. 12, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

If Geno Smith entered the game with any intention of proving doubters wrong, a sluggish first half didn’t help him much. The Seattle Seahawks mustered just three field goals against the Washington Commanders to enter the third quarter tied at 9-9.

Seahawks 29, Commanders 26: Instant Reaction | RecapBig Plays | Stats

A stellar second half, in particular a strong fourth quarter, left fans either walking that doubt back, doubling down on their uncertainty, ratcheting up their excitement, worried for matchups against tougher defenses, or feeling validated.

Ultimately, how you feel about the Seahawks’ 29-26 win over Washington is probably guided by how you feel about Geno Smith.

Seattle’s quarterback situation is one of the more unique in the league, and it’s made more complicated by their positioning. Tied for first in the NFC West with the third-best record in the conference, there’s no plan in this front office to shut down the season and hope for a top pick in a deep quarterback class (apologies if you’re having C.J. Stroud envy). Seeing what Drew Lock gives you as a starter only creates a quarterback controversy, and that doesn’t make for a contender, either.

The Seahawks are a playoff team, or certainly have the roster to be in a weakened NFC, and how far they go will ultimately depend on Smith (and on offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, who faces a serious challenge to improve this team’s performance on third down).

Perhaps what matters most then is what head coach Pete Carroll feels, which he made clear postgame. Smith’s final line was 31 for 47 for 369 yards — a career-high — two touchdowns and a 103.9 passer rating. He was 9 for 11 for 100 yards on his final two drives, including one big completion to put the Seahawks in field goal position with 3 seconds remaining. (And if you’re upset this one came down to a last-second field goal, consider that it’s how four other teams ended their games Sunday, a new NFL record.)

“I thought he was almost perfect,” Carroll told reporters. “All but maybe once perfect. The throws he had to come up with, the calls, the poise, the cadence, running the club, the whole thing. He was perfect… must have had terrific numbers. But more than that, he just came through.”

Protect the football and put the team in a position to win — that’s what Carroll is asking of his quarterback, and it seems to be what he felt he got Sunday. First-half numbers aside, Smith delivered when it mattered most, and it’s that finish which drew the most praise from Carroll postgame.

“To come back after last week and be able to close the game out,” linebacker Bobby Wagner added during his own press conference, “to put us in a chance to win, speaks a lot about Geno.”

Third-and-unmanageable

The Seahawks’ struggles on third down predate this season. It’s been an ongoing issue for years – 2019 was the last season that saw them at 15th or higher there – but this year’s rate is a new low at 31%. It’s not as ugly as the Jets’ 25% rate (there’s a gap there between New York’s woeful offense and the rest of the league), but it’s certainly not where Seattle wants to be.

The solution for a while was to get into third-and-manageable. The good news is Seattle did that Sunday: nine of the Seahawks’ 14 third down attempts were on third-and-5 or less.

The problem? They converted just three of those.

Carroll implied postgame that at least one miss was because a wide receiver being targeted pulled out of his route to try to adjust, but also said Smith “took some tough throws.”

Seattle’s next opponent, the Los Angeles Rams, are allowing opposing offenses to convert 41% of third down attempts this year.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks’ Lockett, Metcalf both come up big with game on the line
Watch: Boye Mafe breaks Seahawks record that lasted 25 years
New DL Leonard Williams on how his game fits with Seattle Seahawks

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