If you look at the official criteria for NFL Comeback Player of the Year, you'll see Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith certainly fits the bill:
"The NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award is presented by the Professional Football Writers of America to the player in the National Football League (NFL) who shows perseverance in overcoming adversity, in the form of not being in the NFL the previous year, overcoming a severe injury, or simply a poor performance."
Yet there are some on the Internets who'd have you believe Geno isn't worthy of this prestigious accolade because of other players who worked their way back onto the field after serious injury.
Y'all. "Most improved" in Geno's case means he overcame his previous poor performance and years of riding the pine. "Perseverance" is literally in the NFL's officially defined parameters of the award. Like what the fuck are we even doing here?
Geno Smith persevered through as much adversity as a quarterback could possibly deal with throughout his entire career before finally coming back as a full-time starter for the first time since 2014. Dude waited almost a freaking decade before he got the keys to the offense again. At the most impactful position on the field.
I wasn't even gonna bring Drew Brees into this but here we are.
Where were the complaints THEN!?
Before I make my main point on this egregious take that Geno doesn't deserve the hardware, understand that I'm not taking anything away from Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley or Brandon Graham. To make it about me for a second, my first-ever TikTok video told the hundreds (!!) who listened to hammer the Over on season rushing yards props for CMC and Saquon. HA!
My purpose for plugging that correct forecast is to prove I have zero agenda against those two guys. They have my utmost respect as players. They're dynamic talents at the most disposable position and went through multiple frustrating seasons before returning to prominence in 2022. Great stories, both. Graham's resurgence is awesome, even if he's benefitting from insane depth on that Eagles d-line. That man is an absolute beast for refusing to retire and coming back to contribute to, at the very least, an NFC Championship team.
OK here it is. Ready?
All those guys I just mentioned at least had the chance to go out, play and get hurt in recent years. Geno didn't even have that! At a position where stability is at a premium, no one would give this guy the time of day except as a backup. Until he started three times in relief of an injured Russell Wilson in 2021, you wanna know what Geno's last start was?
That infamous time Eli Manning's consecutive starts streak was snapped at 210 as Giants coach Ben McAdoo put Geno out there for one week, only to walk it back the next game. LOL. Galaxy-brained shit right there.
Let's rewind a little further. Imagine you're Geno Smith. You get drafted by the New York Fucking Jets during perhaps the worst two-year reign a general manager has ever had with John Idzik at the helm. As Idzik did the classic "GUT THE ROSTER" routine to bring in "HIS GUYS", Smith got mercilessly tossed in as the Week 1 starter, forced into a pure pro-style system after playing in a spread attack at West Virginia, and after some awful growing pains, actually showed promise in leading the Jets to a 3-1 finish to salvage an 8-8 mark for the year.
How did Idzik repay that progress? By cutting even more veteran leaders and proceeding to draft 12 players in 2014 — a loaded draft — that amounted to complete nothingness. Look at this garbage, along with Geno's class in an admittedly weaker 2013 draft:
It's almost like Idzik was purposely attempting to sabotage the team. That's about as bad as it gets.
Although his efficiency improved considerably in 2014, the team was bad. Geno went 3-10 as a starter. Idzik got shitcanned, so did head coach Rex Ryan. Zero starts the following year when a teammate fractured his jaw from a punch in the locker room. In 2016, Geno tore his ACL. Then he went to the Giants for a year, the Chargers for a year, and landed in Seattle in 2019.
To be honest, the Seahawks were in the midst of a pretty rough draft stretch until this year. Something magically changed and they brought in such an amazing haul that it defied all logic and precedent to where they'd been trending before. Was such a special class I couldn't help but blog about it before Week 1.
Combine that with Geno's ascent, and suddenly Seattle found itself back in the postseason way sooner than expected in the wake of the Russ trade.
Hard to be dealt a shittier hand than Geno was given out of the gates. We've seen how a bad environment can sabotage a QB's development. All those years of studying, uncertainty and wondering whether or not a starting gig would come around again didn't bother Geno. He didn't write himself off even when everyone else had.
So yeah, Geno Smith is the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. He carried a team with a bad defense that everyone thought was tanking to the playoffs and led the lead in completion percentage. There's no debate. Deal with it.