Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has said for years that he envisions his ideal quarterback as a “point guard.”
Before the 2022 season started, and as the Seahawks prepared for their season-opening matchup against Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos, Carroll was asked just what that meant. It was a verbose response, and it’s something Carroll’s obviously thought a lot about.
“Yeah, it’s just the way I’ve learned to appreciate the position. I really learned to appreciate through the San Francisco system, way back when, when Coach [Bill] Walsh was there and what he did with his guys, Joe [Montana] and Steve [Young] and how he talked about it and how he expected them to play and what their role was in a football team’s approach. He designed his offenses; he’s the most brilliant guy to ever coach the game.
“He designed his offense to make it as easy as possible for the quarterbacks because he knew the position was so hard to play. And remember all the catch and run stuff and all the quick rhythm stuff that he was famous for, that was so the quarterback didn’t have to be carrying the load. He can get the ball out of his hands, working with his line and his guys and all that. That just has always resonated. That’s what West Coast is. West Coast is long lost from where it was, but that was all of Coach Walsh’s image of what that position and how it should function in terms of how a team plays football. They’ve featured a tremendous amount of short passing game. He was kind of the guy that started all that.
“So, I’m kind of a hoops guy. Maybe that’s why that reference comes out.”
Why it comes out is important in that new starting quarterback Geno Smith has seemed to be the perfect distillation of Carroll’s quarterback preferences.
Through the first four games of the 2022 season as the Seahawks’ post-Wilson starter, Smith has completed 102 of 132 passes for 1,037 yards, six touchdowns, and two interceptions. His completion rate of 77.3% is the second-highest for any quarterback in the first four games of a season in NFL history (behind only Tom Brady in 2007), and going back to last season when he was Wilson’s injury replacement for three starts, Smith has a four-game stretch from October through October in which he has the fourth-highest completion rate (78.2%) inany four-game stretch in league annals.
This would lead you to believe that Smith is nothing more than a Captain Checkdown, but that’s not the case. His 7.9 yards per attempt average has him tied with Atlanta’s Marcus Mariota for fourth-best in the NFL, and he’s completed seven of 13 passes of 20 or more air yards for 167 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception.
Through those first four weeks, Smith ranks second in DVOA (Football Outsiders’ opponent-adjusted per-play efficiency metric) for quarterbacks, behind only Tua Tagovailoa. He ranks third in DYAR, FO’s cumulative efficiency metric, behind only Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert.
Not bad, and quite surprising, for a 2013 second-round pick who’s been more journeyman and backup than rockstar through his NFL career. Smith won the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week award on Wednesday after he riddled the Detroit Lions with 23 completions in 30 attempts (76.7 percent) for 320 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions and a 132.6 passer rating, while also rushing for 49 yards and a touchdown in Seattle’s 48-45 Week 4 victory over the Detroit Lions.
It wasn’t just the stats that stood out; it’s the ways in which Smith has taken control of this offense that has me thinking he’s more than a bridge quarterback between Wilson and whoever is available in free agency or the draft in 2023.