PFF analyst explains ranking Seahawks’ Geno Smith as NFL’s No. 18 QB

May 31, 2024, 9:15 AM

Seattle Seahawks Geno Smith Cardinals 2023...

Seattle Seahawks QB Geno Smith throws a pass against the Cardinals in 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Geno Smith has resurrected his career since taking over the Seattle Seahawks’ starting quarterback job two years ago.

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After starting just five games between 2015 and 2021, Smith earned AP Comeback Player of the Year honors in 2022 with a breakout season that saw him lead the NFL in completion percentage and finish seventh in ESPN’s QBR metric. Smith’s production declined a bit last year, but he still finished 14th in QBR, even while playing behind an offensive line that was decimated by injuries.

However, as Pro Football Focus analyst Trevor Sikkema pointed out in his recent 2024 NFL starting quarterback rankings, the 33-year-old Smith really had four distinct stretches of play over the past two seasons. Over the first half of 2022 and the second half of 2023, he was among the best quarterbacks in the league. But over the second half of 2022 and the first half of 2023, he struggled.

Those dramatic peaks and valleys are why Sikkema ranked Smith 18th out of the NFL’s 32 potential starting quarterbacks for 2024.

“Honestly, when I had him at 18, it felt low for the highs that I have seen in Geno,” Sikkema said Wednesday on Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy. “But it was just the up and down … for the last two years that was kind of tough for him. I believe he’s a really good quarterback. It’s just kind of a consistency thing. But we’ve seen it from him, for sure.”

Over the first eight weeks of the 2022 season, Smith’s 88.4 PFF grade ranked second among all quarterbacks in the league, trailing only Buffalo Bills star Josh Allen. During that stretch, Smith had 17 big-time throws and 10 turnover-worthy plays, according to PFF (see the bottom of this article for a definition of both stats). However, over the final 10 weeks of 2022, Smith had a league-high 19 turnover-worthy plays and his PFF grade plummeted to 66.8.

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It was the opposite in 2023. Over the first nine weeks of last season, Smith had a 74.2 PFF grade, 12 big-time throws and 13 turnover-worthy plays. But he heated up in the second half of the season, posting an 85.0 PFF grade with 20 big-time throws and eight turnover-worthy plays over the final nine weeks. He had the third-most big-time throws over that span, despite missing two games with a groin injury.

“He’s had these streaks over the last couple of years and you’ve just gotta all put it together,” Sikkema said. “Him being healthy, the guys around him being healthy, having that consistency, getting to play a ton together, that chemistry. I think that it’s all there for Geno.”

Note: PFF defines big-time throws as passes with “excellent ball location and timing, generally thrown further down the field and/or into a tighter window.” Turnover-worthy plays are either passes that have a high chance of being intercepted or when a quarterback fumbles.

Listen to the full conversation with PFF’s Trevor Sikkema at this link or in the player near the top of this post. Bump and Stacy airs live from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays on Seattle Sports.

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PFF analyst explains ranking Seahawks’ Geno Smith as NFL’s No. 18 QB