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Geno Smith Ready For Second Season As Seahawks' Starting QB: "Imagine What Else I Can Do"

Following a breakout 2022 season, Geno Smith is confident he can be even better this year while leading the Seahawks offense to new heights.

Quarterback Geno Smith celebrates after his touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Geno Smith celebrates after his touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett in the fourth quarter.

Less than 24 hours after the Seahawks saw their 2022 season come to an end with a playoff loss in Santa Clara, Geno Smith was alone in the weight room, getting in another workout with his mind already looking ahead to the next season.

If anyone deserved a moment to sit back and appreciate what he had done over the course of the last 18 games, it was Smith. After seven seasons as a No. 2 quarterback for the Jets, Giants, Chargers and Seahawks, after being written off by most of the football world as nothing more than a journeyman backup, and after finally earning a chance to start again by winning a training camp competition for the job, Smith didn't just spend the 2022 season proving he was a serviceable starter. He instead showed he was an elite talent, leading the NFL in completion percentage and leading the NFC in touchdown passes on his way to Pro Bowl and AP Comeback Player of the Year Award Honors, all while filling the enormous shoes left by the trade that sent Russell Wilson to Denver last March.

But for Smith, there wasn't time to enjoy the season that just ended, because he was already focused on what was still to come, namely a 2023 season that kicks off Sunday when the Seahawks host the Rams at Lumen Field.

"I just though, man, we did some great things, got to the playoffs, proved people wrong the naysayers or whatever, but the main thing for me is that I've got so much room to grow," Smith said. "That's where my focus was at the time, and it's still there. I'm still improving as quarterback. Even as a 32-year-old quarterback, I'm still getting better in this game. There are still ways to get better, so I just wanted to focus on that."

While plenty of people assumed Smith wouldn't succeed, he never stopped doubting his ability despite having to wait so long for his opportunity. And after three seasons as Wilson's backup, Smith had enjoyed enough success in practice to know it would translate on gamedays once he got that chance.

"Just going up against some of the great guys we've had here, and being able to not just hold my own, but excel, I kind of got the vibe that I was ready," he said. "I just kind of knew. I don't want to sound like Nostradamus, but I just knew my time was going to come and I was going to do well."

And now that Smith has proven he can get the job done, his plan is to not just replicate last year's success, but improve upon it. After all, if Smith was that productive after a seven-year gap between starting gigs, what will he do with all the knowledge and experience he gained over the course of 18 games last season. Add to that the talent the Seahawks added on offense this offseason, most notably first-round pick Jaxon Smith-Njigba at receiver, as well as significantly more time with the starting offense throughout camp now that he's not competing for the job, and Smith is in a great position to succeed.

"My mindset is, well if I did that last year, then imagine what else I can do when it's not my first year starting in so many years," he said. "Just taking from those experiences last year and improving, that's really it. I'm focused on how much better I can be versus what I did last year."

Success hasn't gone to Smith's head by any means, but if there has been any change, it's that he has stepped into a bigger leadership role now that he is the established starter, a point that was reinforced by Smith being named a team captain on Wednesday. That combination of a bigger voice in the locker room with the same work ethic that helped him win the starting job in the first place is why Smith's teammates are so confident that he will not just live up to the high standard he set a year ago, but exceed it.

"Geno has been the same person from the time he was a backup to now being a starter," receiver DK Metcalf said. "The only thing is, he's got a bigger voice. He's using it the right way. We're leaning on him and counting on him to be that voice and that leader at the quarterback position. I think he's going to do 10 times better than last year because he's got the reigns loosened up on him. It's going to be fun to watch."

Said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, "Now that we know him as the leader of the team and the quarterback spot, we've come to expect extraordinary consistency. He's really, really consistent. He's as accurate as can be, as accurate as anyone can be. Every day you come out here, you see those throws and those catches that are being made. It was there, we just didn't know how it would be when he's the lead guy, and he showed us last year. The summer that he's put together, the offseason that he's worked with his teammates, and the camp he's put together has just been as top shelf as it can possibly be. He has been great."

And even if Smith wasn't willing to pat himself on the back for a job well done last season, those around him are happy to, and perhaps nobody outside of Smith's family was more pleased to see what he was able to accomplish that the coach who ended up naming him the starter last august.

Carroll has seen a lot in his five decades of coaching college and professional football. He has led championship teams and helped develop future Hall of Famers, but even with all of that experience, Smith's story still holds a special place in Carroll's heart.

"It's really one of my favorite stories being a head coach about an individual and his contributions," Carroll said. "I really didn't know it until after I looked back and thought about how he had spent years preparing for this opportunity. Watching him take it over and how he handled it started to unveil the story of what he had gone through to get there, and how he had done it by always relentlessly believing in himself. He believed that he was going to be the quarterback, and when he was, he was going to be great. It didn't matter how long he had to wait, or what the circumstances were, he didn't show frustration openly. Then when he finally got the chance, he was just unwavering.

"What I realized after the fact was how much he expected it. He expected it to happen, so when it did, it was no big deal to him. He was able to take advantage of it. He showed it in the ways he responded to the success and the media and the hype and the buildup and going to the Pro Bowl, the whole thing. He just handled everything so well. He was beautifully prepared for it, and I give him all the credit for believing in himself so thoroughly, that no matter what happened, he couldn't get knocked off course. And he hasn't flinched since. He's put together a great offseason, handled that, looked great in the preseason, and away we go."

Check out some of the top shots of Seahawks' quarterback Geno Smith for the 2023 season.

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