'Friggin Awesome': Seattle Seahawks OC Ryan Grubb Lauds Geno Smith, Sam Howell

Only a few months into their courtship, new Seahawks coordinator Ryan Grubb already has plenty of confidence in both of his quarterbacks heading into the 2024 season.
Seahawks offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb watches as quarterbacks Geno Smith and Sam Howell prepare to throw during a team drill at OTAs.
Seahawks offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb watches as quarterbacks Geno Smith and Sam Howell prepare to throw during a team drill at OTAs. / Corbin Smith/All Seahawks
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Closing in on the conclusion of his first OTAs with the Seattle Seahawks, offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb still has a ways to go installing his offensive scheme and figuring out how to best utilize his personnel in his first NFL coaching experience.

But while Grubb acknowledged after Monday's final open OTA practice that the Seahawks have installed only roughly 50 percent of the offense to this point, he's been impressed by the growth he has seen across the board from players in the learning process. In particular, he's been most impressed by the leadership and work ethic demonstrated by quarterbacks Geno Smith and Sam Howell, whose practice and study habits have had a positive impact on the rest of the offense.

"They're awesome, friggin awesome," Grubb smiled. "I think that they're both really, really hard workers. They're very diligent, intelligent, and I know that it means a lot to them. And I think that their leadership in the room and how they react and work together says a lot about the kind of guys that they are, that they understand the team concept. They're both fighting to get better every day. And I just, I couldn't be more happy with where they're at. and the type of guys that management has brought into this place. They've done a really good job."

Coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl selections, Smith enters the 2024 season as Seattle's undisputed starter despite Howell's arrival in a March trade. Playing for his seventh different coordinator in 12 seasons, he's well-versed in the process of learning a new playbook and already looks quite comfortable running the offense on the practice field, though he recently admitted on the Jim Rome Show that the team's new scheme has things he's never seen before.

While offensive performances in OTA practices should always be taken with a grain of salt given contact prohibitions and rule restrictions that hinder defenses, Smith threw five touchdowns to second-year receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba during a red-zone heavy practice on May 30. He continued to be dialed in on Monday, including tossing touchdowns to Smith-Njigba and fellow second-year wideout Jake Bobo.

Playing with confidence as he adapts to a new offense and benefiting from continuity at the skill positions, Grubb loves what he's seen from Smith so far. Along with lauding him for his ability to control the huddle and lead between the lines as an excellent communicator, he raved about how his skill set as an efficient pocket passer with underrated athleticism creates flexibility as a play caller.

"I think that there is a really good marriage there with some of the skill set that Geno has," Grubb explained. "We asked our quarterbacks to do a lot. Luckily for us, Geno's really athletic as well. We don't have to limit it to just drop back. I think he's really good in the play action game as well, which will be a big part of our offense. I think for us, it's not just the five step all the time, but I do think that Geno is really good at getting the ball out on time, very efficient with the football, which he obviously showed '22 to lead the league in completion percentage. So I think that's something, that marriage, you understand how to get the ball out on time and really take care of the football is something that works obviously really well."

While Smith appears to have a strong grasp on Seattle's offense, Howell has also made positive strides since OTAs opened last month, showing improvement on the field by day that coach Mike Macdonald mirrored to the rest of the team progress-wise.

After starting all 17 games for the Commanders last season, Howell has kicked off the next phase of his career as the clear backup behind Smith, but that hasn't deterred him from putting his best foot forward as a competitor. As he told reporters last week, he's working tirelessly to improve upon the areas where he struggled last year while throwing a league-high 21 interceptions, citing playing "smarter" with the football specifically as his primary goal.

Though Grubb didn't delve into Howell's physical tools or cutting down on interceptions in his responses on Monday, he referenced the third-year signal caller's toughness as well as his obvious strides connecting with the scheme as well as his new teammates as areas that stood out so far.

"I think that that presence is something that guys, you can show that you have confidence in the scheme and that you've been working really hard, that you understand things, you can move quickly through things, and that can speak volumes about where you're at," Grubb remarked. "Both of those guys have really grown in that regard through their careers and certainly Geno, when you're out there with him, you can feel his presence and he does a really good job of that of commanding attention of his teammates and I think even since our time here, I think Sam has really grown in that regard."

With mandatory minicamp coming up next week before a six-week hiatus leading up to training camp, like the rest of Seattle's new look coaching staff, Grubb still is in the early stages of the evaluation process getting to know both of his new quarterbacks. Even for a veteran such as Smith who has been around the block learning a wide variety of different offenses, growing pains will be part of the equation for each player as they work to master the scheme.

But if his comments from Monday offer any indication, Grubb already has strong confidence in both Smith and Howell being able to handle the job under center and run his offense effectively. As they continue to dig deeper into the playbook and stack reps on the field for the Seahawks, he's genuinely excited to see how things progress in coming weeks and months with no shortage of optimism for what the offense can accomplish in 2024.


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Corbin K. Smith

CORBIN K. SMITH

Graduating from Manchester College in 2012, Smith began his professional career as a high school Economics teacher in Indianapolis and launched his own NFL website covering the Seahawks as a hobby. After teaching and coaching high school football for five years, he transitioned to a full-time sports reporter in 2017, writing for USA Today's Seahawks Wire while continuing to produce the Legion of 12 podcast. He joined the Arena Group in August 2018 and also currently hosts the daily Locked On Seahawks podcast with Rob Rang and Nick Lee. Away from his coverage of the Seahawks and the NFL, Smith dabbles in standup comedy, is a heavy metal enthusiast and previously performed as lead vocalist for a metal band, and enjoys distance running and weight lifting. A habitual commuter, he resides with his wife Natalia in Colorado and spends extensive time reporting from his second residence in the Pacific Northwest.