Seahawks: 4 questions worth asking before Geno Smith takes over for Russell Wilson at QB

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Geno Smith will be leading the Seahawks rather than Russell Wilson for the near future. We don’t know how long Wilson will be out with his finger injury, but we do know Smith is a significant step down at the most important position on the field – no matter how sharp he looked in his brief action against the Rams last week.

That said, Smith is the only logical answer to start for Seattle at this time. Since the Seahawks haven’t shown any interest in free agent QBs as of yet, the only other candidate at the moment is Jake Luton – who’s on the practice squad and should probably stay there. That means Smith is the guy at least for now. Before 7 takes over, let’s examine a few questions worth asking.

What are some realistic expections for Geno Smith?

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

This season Russell Wilson has been averaging roughly 240 passing yards and two touchdowns a game. Obviously, expecting the same kind of production from Geno Smith against a tough couple of defenses would be unrealistic. What should Seattle expect, then? The top priority for Smith these next few weeks should be avoiding turnovers, which were a huge problem the last time he was a starter in New York. From 2013-2014 Smith threw 34 interceptions and fumbled 16 times in 30 games. A passer rating around the league average 95 and an even touchdown/turnover ratio sounds fair. Anything better than that should be considered a bonus.

How much does his history matter?

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Context is everything when you’re analyzing quarterbacks. Their own performance is only one part of a massive equation, including their pass protection, play-calling, talent at the skill positions, quality of the defenses they face, and so on. Unfortunately, Seattle has very little to go on based on Smith’s history. He hasn’t been a full-time starter since the 2014 season and those Jets teams he was a part of weren’t exactly the 1990’s Cowboys. Pete Carroll and John Schneider will have no choice but to include his past as part of their evaluation, though. How much it matters is the question.

How many chances does he deserve?

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As bad luck would have it, Russell Wilson’s injury couldn’t have come at much of a worse time. Over the next two games, the Seahawks will face two of the top five defenses in the NFL in the Steelers and Saints. Judging Smith’s performance fairly will have to factor that in, as well. If he balls out in Weeks 6-7 it’s fair to say he’ll continue starting until Wilson returns. That’s an unlikely scenario given the competition involved, though. Even if Smith meets those reasonable expectations the team will have to decide if they should make a change before the bye week…

Which free agents would be upgrades?

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In the event that Smith totally bombs, the Seahawks won’t have a lot of options. There are only a handful of free agents worth considering to begin with and all have some kind of flaw or major question marks of their own. Josh McCown may have a lot more experience but he isn’t any better than Smith. Blake Bortles would offer some familiarity with Shane Waldron’s type of offense but is far too volatile. Cam Newton is the most interesting and qualified candidate, but he comes with a significant history of injuries and off-field questions. Colin Kaepernick is easily the best athlete among them, but he hasn’t played in five years.

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