Could Geno Smith really be the long-term answer for the Seahawks at quarterback?
That, and more, in this week’s Seahawks Twitter mailbag (with questions lightly edited for clarity).
We’ll start with two questions on the same Smith-related topic.
@noahdpeterson asked: “At what point is quarterback not the priority for the 2023 draft anymore… in other words is there any world where Geno plays his way into being THE guy going forward?’’
@wenfot asked: “Given how well Geno is doing and that (I believe) he is on a one-year contract, how difficult do you think it will be to re-sign him?’’
I’ll tackle these together since they each touch on what is a suddenly interesting point of discussion — what do the Seahawks do if Smith continues to play as he has (though it’s asking a lot to complete 77% of his passes for the season) and proves he can be a viable option for the future?
My answer to the first is that the Seahawks — if they are in position to do so — probably still take a quarterback on 2023.
Smith turns 32 on Oct. 10, so while he’s not old, age is a consideration.
And in the “Always Compete” world of the Seahawks, I don’t think there’d be any hesitation about bringing on a young QB to either compete with or to learn from Smith for a year or two. Remember, Seahawks GM John Schneider comes from Green Bay where the Packers famously drafted Aaron Rodgers when they had a then 35-year-old Brett Favre and were known for always having a full slate of talented QBs on its roster.
But the second question plays into the first — Smith is on just a one-year contract, so what each side would have to do first is decide if Smith comes back, and at what price. Recall that Smith didn’t sign this year until mid-April, admitting later he considered signing elsewhere.
Smith eventually agreed to a one-year deal — his fourth straight year signing a one-year contract with Seattle — for up to $3.5 million with only $500,000 guaranteed at the time of signing.
“Yeah, I was definitely thinking about some other offers,” Smith said in June. “I obviously wanted to be back here, but had a few teams interested. I was just kind of in the waiting period at that time. But I’m glad I’m here and I’m glad that it all worked out and I was able to get signed here.”
If Smith keeps playing like this, he’ll have more teams interested next year, and more leverage, so Seattle would first have to solve Smith’s future before thinking about the draft. Seattle can re-sign Smith at any time if it wants. But Smith might also want to see what his market might be.
Interestingly, Seattle has no money committed to quarterbacks beyond 2022 as Drew Lock is also in the last year of his contract.
There’s still a long way to go. But the topic of Smith’s future with Seattle is an increasingly interesting one.
@TerryGarrido asked: Should Pete (Carroll) be a bit more thoughtful when throwing out that challenge flag?
Carroll certainly took a flyer on two challenges Sunday that he predictably lost.
First, near the end of the first quarter, Carroll challenged the ruling of a completed pass on a Detroit fake punt from its own 35-yard line.
Then, with 2:08 remaining, he challenged the ruling of a completed pass on a first down that took the Lions from their own 25 to the their own 38.
Losing each meant Seattle had to give up a timeout.
Carroll explained the first as saying that “the magnitude” of what Seattle could have gotten — the ball at the Detroit 35 already holding a 14-6 lead — made it worth it. He also said Seattle coaches had not seen a replay when he had to decide whether to throw the challenge flag. “So I just said ‘screw it. I don’t care,’” Carroll said.
And indeed, one can argue that the value of one first-half timeout is maybe worth taking a shot such as that — Seattle ended up using only one other timeout.
As for the second, Seattle had two timeouts left and a 48-38 lead. Carroll called each “competitive moments” but said there can be value in simply slowing the game down — obviously meaning giving his defense a bit of a break. Seattle ended up not using its last time out of the second half.
“I don’t care about the fricking timeouts when I’m battling like that,” Carroll said.
The cost of a second-half timeout for such a challenge feels like more than one for the cost of a first-half timeout. But obviously time, score, situation also play into those decisions. Carroll was probably playing the odds that the timeout wouldn’t be needed.
Those were the first two challenges of the season for the Seahawks.
According to Pro Football Reference, Carroll challenged five last year, winning two and losing three.
According to PFR, he has challenged 107 calls in his NFL head coaching career, with 58 upheld and 49 overturned.
But Carroll said on his radio show the numbers don’t bother him.
“I’m not really worried about that percentage,” he said, saying the challenges Sunday were “total Pete seat of the pants” decisions.
@Jimthomsen asked: Do the Seahawks’ performance and outcome against the Lions have much predictive value, given the Lions’ injuries and the Lions’ Lions-ness?
The Seahawks have certainly played to their opposition so far.
It was just two weeks ago that Seattle was essentially shut out by the 49ers, scoring on a blocked field goal return, a game that raised lots of questions about the offense.
But proving what everyone thought going into the game, the 49ers appear to have one of the best — if not the best — defenses in the NFL.
As tweeted Tuesday by Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, “the #49es are allowing just 3.81 yards per play, which would be the lowest figure in the NFL since 1977.”
The 49ers have also allowed just one offensive touchdown in their last three games. So, that game looks a little more explainable for Seattle now.
As for the offense exploding against Detroit, there’s precedent for that, too. The Lions have allowed 141 points, on pace for the most for a season in NFL history.
The Seahawks would counter that it was after the 49ers game that they opened up the offense more. But it’s also easier to open up an offense against a struggling defense. Seattle has scored 23 and 48 points the last two weeks against Atlanta and the Lions, which rank in the bottom eight in the NFL in points allowed, while behind held to 24 total, and 17 by the offense, against the 49ers and Denver, which rank among the top five in the NFL in fewest points allowed.
The good news there is that Seattle continues to play some struggling defenses the next three weeks — New Orleans, 20th in points allowed, Arizona (28th) and the Chargers (30th).
So maybe a better question to answer in three weeks.