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Was Geno Smith For Real? 10 Things to Know About Seattle's Offense

After Geno Smith surprised everyone by winning Comeback Player of the Year last season and helped Seattle get back to the postseason, the Seahawks invested first- and second-round picks on offensive players Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Zach Charbonnet

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Shane Waldron appear poised to open things up and put more of the offense in their 32-year-old quarterback’s hands. Will it work?

Here are some things to know about this offense heading into 2023.

10 Seattle Offense Takeaways

1. Passing Game Design

The Seahawks had what was quietly one of football’s best-designed passing attacks in 2022. They were great with switch releases off the line of scrimmage – and not just out of bunches and stacks like most teams, but also from wider alignments. 

Jet motion can aid this, and indeed, the Seahawks' 7.1 yards per play on snaps with jet motion was almost a full yard better than the second-best mark (Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears at 6.3). At times, they would set these up by having one receiver delay his release, which can complicate a defense’s match coverage rules. 

Tyler Lockett is especially adept here. Overall, few passing games are as good at creating favorable leverage for receivers.

2. Film Matches Stats

Smith’s film looked every bit as strong as his stats. He is one of the NFL’s prettiest downfield passers and is willing to target tight windows.

3. Working Progressions

What also stood out was how smoothly and quickly Smith worked through his progressions. When you get to the more advanced levels of quarterbacking, just as important as understanding what is open is understanding what’s not open. 

Smith consistently got off bad reads and kept the play’s timing and structure alive. Stylistically, it was a marked difference from the Russell Wilson years. Now that Waldron has had a year to work with Smith, he’ll likely be comfortable expanding his passing game.

4. Beating Cover 2

One good specific testament to Smith: Seattle’s 47 percent success rate on passes against Cover 2 was third-best in the league. That’s more than 25 percent better than the Seahawks' success rate (36 percent) against Cover 2 during the Wilson era.

5. Third Down Sacks

One concern: Smith was the third most-sacked quarterback on third down. When he could get the ball out under pressure, he was stellar, averaging 6.9 yards per attempt (12th best) and a 72.9 passer rating (ninth) on snaps deemed to be “under pressure.” 

But even better than having a quarterback play well under pressure is having a quarterback who is not pressured in the first place. There’s room for improvement here.

6. Rookie Tackles

Seattle was the first team since the 1982 Cardinals to start rookies at both offensive tackle spots. Third-round right tackle Abraham Lucas had a stellar season. First-round left tackle Charles Cross was up and down, particularly in pass protection.

7. Alignment Changes?

Seattle had multiple tight ends on the field for 59 percent of its first and second down snaps last season – by far the most in the league (Tennessee was second at 51 percent). 

That will change following the first-round selection of Smith-Njigba. He’ll spend a lot of time in the slot, with DK Metcalf serving as a classic X receiver and Lockett the movable Z receiver. It will be interesting to see how often Metcalf and Lockett align on the same side of the field. 

Some of Seattle’s most intimidating designs have come out of those looks.

8. Using Boot Action

The only teams that used play-action boots more than the Seahawks were the Rams and Giants. Will that continue with Smith-Njigba here? Nearly three-fourths of Seattle’s boots came out of “12” and “13” personnel, and they faced a base defense on about two-thirds of those snaps. 

“11” personnel means nickel defense. With nickel defenses being more athletic than most base defenses, running bootlegs out of “11” can be more difficult.

9. Lockett Is Elite

Lockett is an elite downfield route runner. I regret not putting him on the top-9 route runner list last month. His ball-tracking is also second to none.

10. Kenneth Walker’s Growth

Second-year running back Kenneth Walker has deceptive, highly deliberate lateral agility. He’s sturdy yet a touch quicker than expected. He tends to bounce outside a little too early at times, but he’s also shown encouraging patience on other snaps. 

There’s reason to expect maturation here. It will be interesting to see the snap distribution between Walker and Charbonnet.

Andy Benoit worked for Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams coaching staff from 2020 through 2022. Before that, he was a football analyst, writer and content producer for Peter King’s MMQB at Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports and The New York Times. You can follow him on Twitter @Andy_Benoit.