It’s been eight years since Geno Smith was a regular starter in the NFL. After the New York Jets drafted Smith in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, he started all 16 games as a starter and then 13 games in 2014.
Need some perspective on how much time has actually passed?
Smith was named the Jets’ Week 1 starter in 2014 after beating out Michael Vick. After spending the final years of his career as a backup, Vick retired in 2017.
As for Smith, this is a golden opportunity to prove he has what it takes to be an NFL starter. The opportunity came this offseason when longtime Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was traded to Denver, creating a competition between Smith and Drew Lock, who came to Seattle as part of that trade. And with a strong, consistent performance throughout camp and the preseason, Smith earned the starting job.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity and grateful,” Smith said. “I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me. That’s been my mindset since the beginning, getting ready to go out there and win games. This is the first step of that process, but it’s really about winning. None of this is it will matter if we go out and win the games we need to win.
Winning usually cures all, something Smith has struggled with early in his career. In fact, he went 12-18 in four seasons with the Jets. In addition, Smith had to deal with the fallout that came from the infamous locker room incident in which his jaw was broken by a suction punch. It’s debatable whether that incident directly affected Smith’s chances of getting a starting gig, but he remained a backup for the final seven seasons.
“It means a lot,” Smith said. “I’m pretty sure it’s something I’ve been preparing for and the reality is it’s just step 1. It’s just the beginning. I’ve got to make sure I’m ready to go out there and win and play 17 games and more. For me , I’m grateful. I’m grateful. I’m forever indebted to the Seattle Seahawks organization, but it’s time to get to work.”
Smith signed with Seattle in 2019, backed up Wilson for three seasons and re-signed in April to a one-year, $3.5 million deal. He has a career 13-21 record as a starter, including 1-2 last season while Wilson was out with a finger injury.
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Overall, Smith wasn’t terrible in 2021. He finished the season with five touchdowns and one interception, with a solid passer rating of 103.0, but the team was extremely run-heavy in that space. For example, in Smith’s first start in a 23-20 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Alex Collins led Seattle’s offense by rushing for 101 yards and a touchdown.
“In the games I played last year, the numbers speak for themselves,” Smith said. “The things I showed the most and continue to try and do out there is make the right reads, make the right footwork, make the right run checks. , and make sure there are no negatives.
“I take pride in making sure guys are in the right position and always being that coordinator on the field. I believe in my ability and I know I can make a lot of plays with my arms and legs. It’s about moving the chains and making scored a point”.
Smith received the vast majority of first-team reps during the offseason and training camp then started all three preseason games. Lock was set to start the second preseason game until he tested positive for COVID-19, keeping him out of the lineup. Any time missed during an open competition is a disadvantage that appears to be a contributing factor to why Lock lost the quarterback competition.
Whether or not Smith keeps the starting job or if Lock starts at some point remains to be seen. However, we will soon find out as Seattle’s first regular season game begins on September 12th.
You can follow Kevin Tame Jr on Twitter at @Kevin_Tame
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