For Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith, the bye week was a chance to, as he explained, "get the body right, see my family, and hang out with my son."
What it was not, however, was an opportunity to take his mind off of football, not 10 games into what has been a Pro Bowl-caliber season for Smith in his first year as a starter since 2014.
"There is not much of a mental break," Smith said. "Actually, that is the time where I had more time to watch film and really just study. I try not to think about football, but that is darn near impossible, so I did a lot of studying, a lot of self-scouting, and was trying to get an edge. There is not a week off, it's just a week of not playing. I was really studying and continuing to sharpen my mind and my game."
With Smith leading the way, the Seahawks have had one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL this season, and are in a tie with the 49ers for first place in the NFC West with a 6-4 record heading into their Week 12 game against the Raiders. Smith, who before this year had been a backup for the previous seven seasons, has been one of the NFL's best quarterbacks in 2022 by just about any measure, ranking first in completion percentage (72.8), second in passer rating (108.0), fifth in yards per attempt (8.3), sixth in touchdown passes (17), fourth in interception percentage (1.3 percent), and fourth in ESPN's QBR (67.3).
In other words, a lot has gone well for the Seahawks and their quarterback, but that doesn't mean they're coming out of the bye feeling like they have everything figured out and can coast through the final seven games.
"Obviously, through 10 weeks, we have done some really good things on offense—we have had a ton of explosive plays, we have been moving the ball really well—but I think there is another level that we can get to," Smith said. "I know there is another level that we can get to, and I really want the guys to continue to stay focused, lock in, and continue to push ourselves. We've done a lot of great things and we can get into the stats, details, and all of that, but really, what it comes down to is our execution and our focus. I want to really drive that home, us continuing to really grind the mental part of it, really grind the physical part of it, and be ready for this seven-game stretch."
Offensive coordinator Shane Waldron has overseen a very strong offense so far this season, but like Smith, he sees room to grow after spending the bye week doing some self-scouting. In particular, Waldron wants to see his team perform more consistently on third down, especially after a 1 for 9 performance in Seattle's Week 10 loss in Munich.
"The consistency on third down," Waldron said when asked what he wants to see improve. "We've had some weeks where we've had really efficient third-down days, staying in some third and shorter and been able to execute at a high level, then looking back a couple of weeks ago in Munich, I wish we did a little better executing on third down to extend some drives, to get some more opportunities, especially in the first half."
And even if Smith didn't take his mind off of football during his time off, he did find the time to give back in the community before returning to work, hosting a turkey giveaway in Seattle's Central District on Monday.
"It was good man, we were in downtown Seattle—I hadn't been there before, but just to be in that community and kind of see what the people were about," Smith said. "A lot of people came out, I got to mingle with the fans, and it was really cool. The 12s are strong out here as we all know, and they showed up and showed so much love. I really appreciated giving back as well."
While this turkey giveaway was new for Smith, giving back is not. Through his 7Sunday Heroes Foundation, Smith has for years strived to make a difference, particularly in his hometown of Miami, and now with a bigger platform in Seattle as the team's starting quarterback, he wants to continue that work in the Northwest.
"It starts with my mom and my grandmothers," he said. "They've been giving back in our community back home in Miami for years and that's something that they always implemented in me, to always give back regardless of your position or status. Try to help people out and be a giving hand to people in need or not in need, just be a good person and help out the community."
Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith helps pass out turkeys at the Jerk Shack on November 21, 2022 to help families get ready for Thanksgiving.