With each passing game in which he puts up big numbers and helps the Seahawks win games, the spotlight shines brighter on Geno Smith's story.
After seven seasons as a backup, Smith didn't just win the starting job for the Seahawks this year, he has emerged as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Smith has emerged as a favorite for Comeback Player of the Year honors, he's on track to make his first Pro Bowl if he keeps playing at anything even close to his current level, and his name is even starting to show up in the MVP discussion as the Seahawks have moved into first place in the NFC West. And this week, Smith was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month after helping lead the Seahawks to a 4-1 record in October.
Yet as he has maintained throughout this season, Smith isn't all that impressed with his story even if plenty of other people are calling him one of the biggest surprises of the 2022 season, namely because he isn't surprised by any of this.
"I just think it's me having a chance to play now," Smith said. "The attention and all of that stuff, I'm not really feeling it. I have just focused on what I am doing inside of this building. I think it's more so people just seeing me play. I haven't played in a bunch of years, outside of preseason, and I think people are now getting a chance to see me play in this offense with these types of players. It's more so of just all of us doing well more than just myself."
Smith was quick to credit his teammates and coaches for helping him play at the type of level that earns Player of the Month honors—he knows this success doesn't happen without a lot of people performing at a high level—but Smith also has always been confident that he could play at an elite level if given the chance.
"I know exactly who I am and what I can do, so I never bought into the narrative that was out there," he said. "I just didn't get this good over the course of one offseason."
But while Smith isn't too interested in praising his own standout play at the midway point of the season, he is more than happy to hype up a rookie class that has made massive contributions on both sides of the ball, and one that produced the NFL's Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Month Kenneth Walker III and Tariq Woolen, marking the first time teammates have earned that honor in the same month since the award started in 1996.
"That's outstanding, I don't think I've ever seen that before," Smith said. "It means that we drafted well, obviously, that has been the history here. But also the coaching, it speaks volumes to the coaching, getting those guys ready to play. Then to the individual for going out there and making the plays, taking the coaching, and putting all of those things to use. We have a lot of really good rookies, and they are contributing, all of them are in different ways. It's really fascinating to see."
Woolen, who is tied for the NFL lead with four interceptions, three of which came in October, doesn't plan on stopping at player of the month.
"I feel like the job isn't done until it is Rookie of the Year," he said. "That's the mentality that I've always had since the beginning of the season. Now that there is a chance and it's an obtainable goal, I just want to try to grab it, but at the same time, I just want to have fun with my teammates. As long as you do that and as long as we are winning, then everybody is getting noticed. When you are winning, that's when the awards come in. As long as we keep doing our thing, I'm happy."
Walker, who has rushed for 403 yards since Week 5, third most in the NFL, said his focus this season hasn't been on any individual achievements; just on helping get the job done whatever that took.
"One of my main goals was to make a positive impact on the team when I first got here," he said. "I've been trying to stick to that since, so that has been my main goal and just staying focus and grinding. I'm going to keep trying to achieve that goal."
But that being said, he can also appreciate that this current honor shines a light on the contributions of a rookie class that includes both starting tackles who block for him, Abraham Lucas and Charles Cross, as well as three defensive starters in Woolen, Coby Bryant and Boye Mafe.
"It's a cool that we have a group of guys like that, and we are rookies and to be able to contribute," he said. "I think that shows how hard we work and how focused the other rookies are. I just hope we continue to do that."