Seattle Seahawks understudy Geno Smith gets his chance to take center stage

Seattle Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks backup quarterback Geno Smith passes against the Los Angeles Rams during the second half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, in Seattle. Smith came in while starting quarterback Russell Wilson had a hand injury evaluated. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)

SEATTLE, Wash. — Having a dedicated understudy is essential to any production, as Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith has learned fondly. Though he doesn’t get very much playing time, Smith has bought into the value of being part of an organization whose ideals align with your own. Now in his second year playing behind star Russell Wilson, it’s his turn to lead the show.

The model of durability and consistency as a pro, Wilson has played in all 149 of the games he’s been eligible for, including nine seasons of 16 regular season games each. In what was supposed to be his 150th career game, Geno Smith will be under center for the Seattle Seahawks.

During a Thursday night matchup with the division-rival Los Angeles Rams, Wilson seriously injured his right middle finger and will be sidelined for an undisclosed amount of time. That leads the way for Smith to make his first NFL start since December 3, 2017; and while that may sound like a daunting task for the eight-year NFL vet, head coach Pete Carroll is simply excited for the man.

“He loves the fact that he’s got this chance to help his team. That’s why he’s been here,” Carroll said. “I was so proud of him and so happy for him to be able to jump out there [on Thursday].”

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Carroll lauded the 31-year-old quarterback, who re-signed as the Seahawks’ backup this past offseason. Seattle’s exuberant coach described Smith as healthy, strong, tough and physical before keying in on his terrific arm strength and deceptive scrambling ability.

Smith was drafted 39th overall in 2013 to the New York Jets, where he played four seasons. He started 29-of-30 games for the Jets in his first two years in the league and threw for 5,571 and 25 touchdowns. However, Smith was haunted by a horrific 34 interceptions on top of situational chaos well beyond his control thanks to the Jets’ disastrous leadership.

He never returned to a full-time starting role in the NFL, and prior to this year, he spent three seasons with three different teams. Last offseason, Smith found a home in Seattle that he never anticipated. Carroll told reporters during his Monday morning press conference that Smith bought all the way into the Seattle Seahawks system, and that he’s been ready to play every week that he’s been with the team.

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On top of that, Smith and Wilson have developed a nice partnership as the top two quarterbacks for the team. While Wilson is a far superior player, Smith has a similar baseline of skills that make him a logical fill-in while Wilson rehabilitates his finger. He’s set to make the start when the Seahawks visit the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday—an unforgiving matchup against one of the league’s most ravenous defenses.

Smith has a serious challenge ahead of him, but he’ll boast the full support of the Seahawks coaching staff and quarterback room while doing it.

As for Wilson, the team is non-committal to the trajectory of his rehabilitation process. While Carroll did announce that his rehab will take place in-house, the team is unsure of whether Wilson will be placed on injured reserve. Barring an injury to the backup, that means Smith will be under center in Seattle for the foreseeable future.

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