'Very Impressed': Seattle Seahawks QB Geno Smith Weighs In On Ryan Grubb, Learning New Offense

Understanding the keys to learning a new offense from experience, Geno Smith has taken quickly to Ryan Grubb's system early alongside a new backup in Sam Howell.
Geno Smith warms up for the Seahawks first open OTA practice of the 2024 offseason.
Geno Smith warms up for the Seahawks first open OTA practice of the 2024 offseason. / Corbin Smith/All Seahawks
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RENTON, Wash. - Now in his 12th NFL season, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith isn't a stranger when it comes to learning a new offense.

In fact, now teaming with his seventh different offensive coordinator during stints with four different teams, an offseason without new terminology and concepts to absorb may feel more foreign to him. Right at home comfort level-wise as he and his teammates acclimate to new play caller Ryan Grubb's system, the veteran signal is light years ahead of where he was earlier in his career with the Jets on that front.

"I would say it's a lot easier. When I first got into the league all the words, they meant nothing to me," Smith told reporters following Wednesday's first open OTA practice. "Now, 12 years, a lot of these plays I've run before. A lot of ways we execute I've been around; it's just different language. So it's a matter of just learning the terminology and then obviously being able to recite it back to the guys in the huddle and go out there and make the plays. It's a lot easier for me now that I've been in the league a little bit. Still a matter of studying and I really take that serious."

Donning a blue throwback game jersey, Smith enjoyed a strong first day of OTAs, slinging the pigskin all over the yard with precision and accuracy. While he didn't have his top receiver in DK Metcalf on the practice field, he demonstrated excellent touch and anticipation getting the ball to his receivers all afternoon, looking to be in full command of what the Seahawks have been able to install thus far.

Geno Smith drops back to pass during drill work at Seahawks OTAs.
Geno Smith drops back to pass during drill work at Seahawks OTAs. / Corbin Smith/All Seahawks

Among his most notable throws on Wednesday, Smith lofted a perfect strike downfield to second-year receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba on a slot fade, hitting him in stride for a long gain during a team 11-on-11 scrimmage drill.

As Smith noted, the process of mastering Grubb's offense has been aided by continuity at the skill positions. Seattle will roll into the 2024 season with Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Smith-Njigba, and Jake Bobo, the team's top four receivers, all under contract, while pass catching tight end Noah Fant re-signed on a two-year contract. In addition, soft-handed running backs Ken Walker III, Zach Charbonnet, and Kenny McIntosh all return, giving the Pro Bowl quarterback no shortage of weapons he already has established chemistry with.

In the early stages of getting to know Grubb, who orchestrated Washington's record-breaking offense the past two seasons in Montlake, Smith raved about his new play caller following Wednesday's session, praising the coordinator for his ability to balance the acts of challenging his players and being patient with them as they learn a complicated new system with different verbiage and concepts.

"Very impressed, man. Obviously from the stuff he's done in college, he has a great track record," Smith said of Grubb and his scheme. "And then just being a part of the system, being able to learn from him, the type of guy that he is, type of man that he is, type of coach that he is. I think there is going to be great things coming for us. Coach Grubb is doing a great job being demanding, making sure guys are studying and on point and knowing their assignments, but also giving guys some grace. It is a new system, new offense, and guys are going to mess some things up. That's not necessarily a terrible thing. We can gain from that. So Grubb is doing a great job. It's our job to make the plays come alive and make it all look good."

Named the undisputed starter earlier in the offseason by both general manager John Schneider and coach Mike Macdonald, Smith isn't the only quarterback trying to lock down a new offense. Following the departure of Drew Lock in free agency, Seattle swapped picks with Washington to acquire Sam Howell, who started all 17 games for the Commanders last season and threw 21 touchdown passes.

While some veteran starters may not be keen on the idea of mentoring or assisting a backup quarterback, particularly a young player of Howell's caliber who could still be a long-term starter down the road in the league, Smith has once again embraced that role as he did with Lock when the two players competed for a starting job in 2022. Aside from golfing together this offseason, the two traveled to Cabo with several other offensive players for a team-building vacation to help develop a rapport before the start of OTAs.

Given his arduous journey as a long-time backup before getting a second chance as a starter with the Seahawks, Smith has happily taken Howell under his wing, believing the quarterback group is only as strong as the weakest link. Not viewing himself as the starter or his new teammate as the backup, the two players supporting one another on and off the field should only bring out the best in each of them.

"Sam is a really, really talented young player. He played a lot of football to be that young. Did a lot of great things and showed a lot of great things on tape," Smith remarked. "For me, the whole starter/backup thing, I don't ever wrap my mind around that. It's about that group. The quarterback group has to be a collective unit. Whoever goes in the game has to have the support of the other guys. So for me, it's as you about us learning and working together and pushing each other together. That can only provide us with an excellent chance to get better."

With the calendar yet to flip to June, the Seahawks will be installing plays throughout the next several weeks and into training camp. Only two practices into the final phase of the offseason, Smith and company have just scratched the surface learning Grubb's scheme, and there will be plenty of missteps and mistakes along the way.

From the quarterback's own perspective, while he thinks the system is catered to a drop-back passer such as himself playing the distributor role, he acknowledged he hasn't had enough reps to this point to truly assess how his skill set and strengths will be accentuated in Grubb's offense.

But while more challenges await Smith and the rest of Seattle's offensive players and everyone remains in a bit of a feeling out period, he loves where the group sits at this point in the process. Benefiting from his past experiences, he's picking up the new scheme without many hitches and it shows with how crisp he looked throwing the ball on Wednesday, leading the charge with optimism the team will build a similarly potent offense to the one Grubb ran next door in Montlake.

"I feel like we're in a really good spot honestly. Personally, I can say I feel like I really have a really good grasp of the offense. I know there are still things I have to learn. From the installs that we've done, really sharp with those things. And then as a group, it's not just about me personally, it's about the collective group, and so that's what is important. We're all on top and prepared. That's coming along well as well. I think we're all just getting better. We had a few mistakes out there at practice, but that's a good thing. Those are things we can clean up and we can learn from; and then just try to eliminate the mental mistakes and just go out there and play fast."

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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.