At the beginning of the season, Geno Smith was seen as an afterthought in the league. His time with the New York Jets was viewed as comically bad and he has bounced around the league as a backup. However, he has found new life as a Seattle Seahawk. They are 7-5, one game out of the NFC West lead, and Geno Smith’s play has played a huge role. But it poses a question, does he have an MVP case?
Geno Smith’s Career Pre-Seattle
The New York Jets took a chance on Geno Smith with a second-round pick in 2013. At West Virginia, Smith put up gaudy numbers in a pass-happy offense, including a 4,205-yard, 42-touchdown season in 2012. However, there were concerns about Smith’s pro-readiness, specifically factoring in the offense that West Virginia ran.
Smith’s time with the Jets was turbulent, to say the least. He started his first two seasons, racking up 34 interceptions and 16 fumbles to 31 passing touchdowns. Off the field, he found himself in the news in 2014 for missing a team meeting before a game in San Diego due to the time difference. And most notoriously, he was hit in a physical altercation with teammate I.K. Enemkpali where his jaw was broken. The altercation was rumored to be over a $600 debt that Smith had not paid to Enemkpali.
With Smith recovering, Ryan Fitzpatrick took over in 2015 and led the Jets to a 10-6 record. Smith only started one more game with the Jets before leaving after 2016. From there, he served as a backup with the crosstown Giants and Los Angeles Chargers, before landing with Seattle in 2020.
Flying High with the Seahawks
Geno Smith started three games for the Seahawks in 2021 while Russell Wilson was injured. The Seahawks only won one of his three starts, but Smith was solid. All three starts were rated above 90, including a 195-yard, 2-touchdown performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In 2022, Smith became the starter after Wilson was traded to Denver in a blockbuster trade. In 13 starts, Smith has thrown for 3,169 yards, 22 touchdowns, and only six interceptions. His 72.7% completion percentage currently leads the NFL. His 108.7 passer rating is second in the league.
Compared to the Russell Wilson era, the Seahawks have leaned more on the passing game, as proven by their ranking in passing yards per game (244.4, seventh in the NFL). Smith has been great with moving the chains through the air, as his 39% first-down percentage is third only to Patrick Mahomes and Tua Tagovailoa. In addition, his 8.1 yards per attempt is among the best in the league as well, only behind Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts, and Mahomes. Coincidentally, all four are viewed as the MVP frontrunners currently.
Can Geno Smith Win MVP?
Firstly, it seems like a forgone conclusion that Geno Smith wins Comeback Players of the Year. After spending years as a backup after his time with the Jets, to have the Seahawks where they are should not be scoffed at.
As for his MVP case, it may be hard for Smith to win. Hurts has broken out as a dual-threat star for an 11-1 Philadelphia Eagles team. Mahomes is having another very efficient season without his former #1 receiver Tyreek Hill. And Tagovailoa has been the most efficient passer in terms of passer rating and touchdown percentage.
Where it stands now, the Seahawks have the last Wild Card spot over Washington. If they can hold on, it is more than fair to give Geno Smith consideration.