Geno Smith explains 2022 jump, compares rookie woes to Peyton Manning’s: ‘Sometimes they give up on you quick’

The world may be surprised by Geno Smith’s hot start to the 2022 season, but the quarterback isn’t. The Seattle Seahawks starter hasn’t gotten off to a hot start in his NFL career, but notes that it sometimes takes time for quarterbacks to develop.

Smith has helped his team to a 4-3 start as it sits atop the NFC West standings, ahead of the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals.

The Seahawks were expected to have one of the worst records in the league before the season after trading for quarterback Russell Wilson, and now they are preparing for a possible playoff slot. Smith, who was selected in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, is a big reason the team has been successful.

The 32-year-old quarterback has thrown for 1,712 yards with 11 TDs and just 3 interceptions thus far, good for a 107.7 QB rating, by far the best of his nine-year career. In fact, Smith’s second-best QB rating came last year when he filled in for the injured Wilson, who struggled after leaving Seattle.

With most of the NFL world shocked that Smith is playing so well, Smith explained that even the greats struggle early in their careers.

Asked by Peter King what has surprised him about his season so far, the quarterback, who last started in 2013-14 for the Jets, said: “Nothing. Nothing surprised me. In fact, I know I can play much better.”

Smith had high expectations for himself, even as the most accurate quarterback in the league right now (73.5 completion percentage).

To prove his point that even capable quarterbacks don’t always get off to strong starts, Smith referenced the early seasons of some Hall of Famers.

“I know I may have struggled to get my foot in the door in pro football. This is the reality of the NFL. Sometimes they give up on you quickly,” he said. “The numbers early in my career are kind of skewed if you ask me.

“If you look at Peyton Manning, if you just judge his rookie season, you would never think that Peyton Manning would have become what he has become. Steve Young too. Troy Aikman. The list goes on and on and on. I just have to be patient with the young defenders. You have to find the right young defenders with the right mentality who will continue to work and have a great attitude towards the game and fighting.”

His first season in the league, Smith had 12 touchdowns, 21 interceptions, a 66.5 rating, 55.8 completion percentage and finished the season 8-8, missing the playoffs with the New York Jets. Quite an improvement in almost a decade

As a rookie, Manning threw for 26 touchdowns with 28 interceptions and had a 56.7 completion percentage for the 3-13 Colts in 1998.

Smith credited head coach Pete Carroll for trusting him despite not starting in years.

“When Pete Carroll hit me and said, ‘Hey, I’m giving you an opportunity to compete for the job,’ I mean, that’s all you had to say to me,” Smith said. “That was great. He showed faith in me. That’s exactly what I need… Not many coaches would feel comfortable starting a quarterback who hasn’t played in many years. But Pete does it because he knows what he’s looking for.”

Looking back, Smith said it was frustrating to be sidelined for so long, but now that he has a chance to start, he’s making the most of it.

“Over the years not playing has been heartbreaking. I’m so competitive and I love to play so much that I really wanted to be there every single game,” Smith said. “But what’s that cliché? What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? I know I’m better all these years.”

The Seahawks are coming off a win against the Los Angeles Chargers. They will look to extend their winning streak to three games next week when they host the 6-1 New York Giants.

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