Geno-sis: A new start for Hawks’ offense

Plenty of fans were hoping the Seahawks would trade Russell Wilson in the offseason, moving on to another quarterback who didn’t have the same deficiencies. Well, those people are about to get their wish, for a few weeks anyway.

Seattle apparently is going to be without Wilson for 4-8 weeks after he suffered a finger injury on his throwing hand against the Rams on Thursday and had surgery Friday in Los Angeles.

That gives Geno Smith, the former Jets second-round starter, an early birthday present as he turns 31 on Sunday: A starting quarterback job once more. And he will start it off with two prime-time games.

Smith, Seattle’s backup since 2019, will step into the spotlight on “Sunday Night Football” next week in Pittsburgh, then return home for a Monday night game against New Orleans and another contest against Jacksonville. The Hawks then have a bye, and many fans are hoping Wilson will be ready to return for the Week 10 game in Green Bay before Seattle hosts current division juggernaut Arizona.

But, if Wilson is out for six weeks, his return would come on his 33rd birthday, Nov. 29, on Monday night at Washington. That would be a fun way to come back, if you ask us.

Plenty of people think the Hawks’ season is over, due to the combination of a raggedy defense and Wilson’s injury. But we’re quite interested in seeing this play out.

Pete Carroll has a history of fixing his defense midseason, whether it was the Legion of Boom’s occasional lapses or last year’s historically poor start. If he does it again and Smith avoids turnovers and runs the offense efficiently, this team could surprise a ton of naysayers.

Seattle entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations – and rightfully so. It has almost all the talent it needs (cornerback the glaring deficiency) and seemed to show it in a 28-16 win in Indy to start the season. Wilson was nearly perfect, throwing four TD passes in a win that made it look like the Hawks were poised to put together a great year.

But it has been almost all downhill since then, with the Hawks losing three of four and the offense struggling to score for large parts of the past three games while the defense has let opposing passers carve it up at a historic pace (just like 2020).

Wilson’s propensity for the all-or-nothing play (as in 2020) has been glaring. He has looked deep on most of his passes again this season, including a lot of third-and-shorts, and he simply has not hit enough. It’s a tough way to win consistently, after all. You live by the big play, you die by the big play.

The Hawks are converting just 34.7% of their third downs (26th in the NFL) and rank last in the league in time of possession (25:03 per game; 2:13 per drive).

Smith does not have the deep ball accuracy that Wilson has, and he has been loose with the ball in the past (37 interceptions in 43 NFL games) and threw a pick vs. the Rams; but, if he protects it better in this starting stint, perhaps he can straighten out Seattle’s offense.

Smith (6-3) is taller than Wilson, and he showed against the Rams that he has no problem throwing over the middle, moving around and finding his tight ends. He also hit a rare successful screen play for the Hawks, who have been horrendous on those plays across Wilson’s 10 seasons.

Fans who are frustrated with Wilson will now get to see a different QB for an extended time. Smith has his flaws, but he also is a veteran who has been in this system for three years. The nearly 31-year-old brought a very veteran calm to a comeback situation vs. the Rams, leading Seattle to 10 points in the fourth quarter (more than Wilson had in three quarters).

“I thought Geno did a marvelous job last night,” Carroll said. “Geno has been practicing with us for all this time waiting for his opportunity if called upon. … He’s been impeccable. And then, when he went out, he executed like he can.

“He’s a very talented football player. He’s got a great arm, he’s got great sense and he knows the system really well.”

People who have given up on the season after five games can stop watching, but we plan to watch with great interest to see whether Carroll and Smith can keep the season alive until Wilson returns.

It’s going to be new and different – and hopefully fun and successful.

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