Now that the 2021 season has officially come to an end with Super Bowl LVI in the books, it's time to look ahead to an offseason that will help shape the Seahawks' fortunes in 2022. With free agency kicking off later this month and the draft following in April, Seahawks.com is taking a position-by-position look at where the team stands. So far we've covered the offensive line, the defensive line, tight end, linebacker, receiver, defensive back and running back, and today we turn our attention to quarterback. Check back Friday as we wrap things up with a look at where things stand on special teams.
The season started off with Russell Wilson doing what he has done for most of his career, playing a very good game in a Seahawks victory. But five weeks into the season, with Wilson leading the NFL in passer rating at the time, his season took an unfortunate turn when he injured his finger when his hand hit Aaron Donald's arm on the follow through of a throw.
That injury required surgery, causing Wilson to miss three games—the first missed games of his career—and the Seahawks lost a pair of close games against Pittsburgh and New Orleans before Geno Smith helped lead them to a decisive win over the Jaguars.
Wilson returned after Seattle's bye week, missing only three games, but neither he nor Seattle's offense was able to get on track right away, with the Seahawks losing in Green Bay in what was Seattle's first shutout loss since 2011. By his own admission, Wilson wasn't at 100 percent in those first few games back, but he and the rest of the offense were able to finish strong, with the Seahawks winning four of their final six, scoring 30 or more points in all four of those wins, including 89 points in the final two games. Wilson also finished the season by throwing nine touchdowns passes with just one interception in his final three games.
Wilson's absence meant the first starts for Geno Smith in three seasons as Wilson's backup, and the former second-round pick performed well in relief. Smith nearly led a comeback against the Rams, and while the offense wasn't great in two losses, Smith was for the most part efficient, and he had a nearly flawless game in the win over the Jaguars. Overall, Smith posted a 103.0 passer rating in his four games, completing 68.4 percent of his passes while throwing five touchdowns with one interception.
Question to answer this offseason: Who will be the backup quarterback?
The Seahawks like what they saw from Smith when he took over for Wilson last season, but he is set to become a free agent when the new league year begins, so there are no guarantees he will be back. If Smith were to sign elsewhere, the only other candidate for that job currently on the team is Jacob Eason, who the Seahawks claimed off waivers last season. While Eason didn't get a chance to show what he could do in game action, he drew praise from coaches for what he showed in practice. The Seahawks could, of course, also add to the position via the draft or free agency, but based off of Carroll's comments at the NFL Scouting Combine this week, it would appear that Plan A is still to bring Smith back if a deal can be worked out.
"I like Geno a lot." Carroll said. "He's really valuable to us. He can play and I don't have any questions he can go in and play at a high level. We'll let them all battle it out. It'll always been a competition, and we'll see what happens."
Biggest reason for optimism in 2022: Wilson and the offense's strong finish.
It was an inconsistent season both for Wilson and the offense, in no small part due to the injury, but any concerns about his play or the offense's under first-year coordinator Shane Waldron were put to bed late in the season with the Seahawks closing things out with a pair of dominant wins in which he threw seven touchdown passes with one interception as the Seahawks scored 51 points in a win over the Lions and 38 in a win at Arizona.
While nobody was happy with a 7-10 season, the way Wilson and the offense looked late in the year, it's hard to imagine the Seahawks not winning a lot more games in 2022 if they can recapture that type of play.