Pete Carroll made the Seahawks real contenders with Geno Smith as QB. Image: Getty Images
Pete Carroll still gets it.
That’s how the NFL works. how to win What his team needs and doesn’t need to compete with the best teams in the league.
The longtime Seahawks somehow rejuvenated a team that everyone predicted would finish bottom in the NFC West and end the season with a top-five draft pick. Well, the Seahawks lead their division by a game and a half to nine. Nobody saw that coming.
But for Seattle it looks different this time. Carroll, a defensive coach by trade best known for the Legion of Boom defense in the early to mid-2010s, does so with an explosive offense. The Seahawks had prolific offenses under Russell Wilson for a few years after the Legion of Boom phase, but none of that was expected with Geno Smith at center.
Those Seahawks are led by an offense that ranks fourth at an average of 26.8 points per game. Seattle is seventh in rushing yards overall and ninth in passing yards. Smith was written off as a bankrupt after stints with both New York teams and the Chargers. The former West Virginia Mountaineer is finally looking like a capable NFL quarterback. It was only almost a decade before he found his place and a coach who believed in him.
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After Smith’s senior year in West Virginia, big things were expected when the Jets picked him 39th overall in the 2013 draft. His first two years in New York can be summed up as mediocre at best, and that’s a nice thought. Things took an even worse turn for Smith in third-year training camp after he was potted by teammate IK Enemkpali. Smith suffered a fractured jaw that forced him to miss half the year. After a few more years on the bench, Geno joined the Giants and Chargers before landing on the Seahawks’ bench in 2020. And that was clearly the best thing that could have happened in his career.
Thanks to Carroll and second-year offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, Smith is looking like a midseason MVP candidate for a dark horse. But let’s not blame the coaching staff for Geno’s success. He plays better than most thought possible.
Smith is having the best year of his career, completing 73 percent of his passes while posting a 107.2 passer rating and a 68 QBR. He throws for nearly 245 yards per game and has 15 touchdowns with just four interceptions. The 15 TDs put Smith in fifth place in the NFL with Tua Tagovailoa, and his 2,199 passing yards are sixth in the league. Winning the MVP might prove out of reach, but comeback player of the year seems within reach.
Coach Carroll could also compete for honorary hardware in the form of Coach of the Year. If the Seahawks win 12 or 13 games this year after nobody expected them to win more than six, Carroll would be a top contender for the award. Believe it or not, Carroll was never called COY in the NFL. With each passing week, his Seahawks are turning the doubters into believers and showing that it’s never too late for an old coach to embrace a new approach to the game.