Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson spent much of Friday working to determine just how badly he injured the middle finger of his throwing hand after banging it on a helmet in the second half of Thursday night’s 26-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. As it turns out, Wilson’s injury is as serious as many feared.
Wilson underwent surgery on his finger today and is expected to miss six weeks of action, NFL Network reports. The operation, performed by Los Angeles-based hand specialist Dr. Steven Shin, was more complex than originally thought, and Wilson had several stabilizing screws inserted into his finger. ESPN indicates Wilson could take as many as eight weeks to recover.
Geno Smith replaces Russell Wilson
But who replaced Wilson after he left the game was almost as remarkable as Wilson getting hurt — Geno Smith, the former New York Jets quarterback who has been largely out of the spotlight since his disastrous stint as the Jets’ starter seven years ago.
Smith could hardly have played better in place of Wilson, going 7-for-7 for 72 yards on a touchdown drive that got the Seahawks back in the game. He will ultimately be credited with throwing a game-sealing interception, but that’s unfair. The late pick was not his fault, but rather the result of receiver Tyler Lockett tripping while running his route.
“I thought Geno did an incredible job,” Lockett told reporters after the game. “We were on what, the 3-yard line and he drove us all the way down there. Shoot, he did an incredible job. That was a big-time drive, he was very patient, reading through everything, all his keys. He really did phenomenal, I was really happy for him. I told him I was proud of him the way he played. We all know he can play like that, and when he got his opportunity, he showed out, and I was just happy for him.”
Added Carroll: “He did great, he really looked good. He’s been working for that. He’s a talented football player, he knows our system. If Geno’s going to play for us some as Russ comes back, he showed that we’re in good hands.”
Geno Smith’s NFL history
If you’ve long forgotten Smith was still even in the league, you can be forgiven. He hasn’t played meaningful snaps since starting a game in place of Eli Manning while serving as the Giants’ backup in 2017. It’s a wonder he decided to stay in New York that season after four rocky years with the Jets, who took him in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Smith’s time as the Jets’ QB1 was as dramatic as it was brief. He lost 18 of 30 starts with Gang Green, throwing 37 interceptions and completing just 57.9% of his passes. Smith ultimately lost his starting job not because of performance, but because of a broken jaw. Teammate IK Enemkpali punched him in the face during a locker room altercation prior to the 2015 season, and by the time it healed, Ryan Fitzpatrick had taken over the role.
He has since been a backup with the Giants and Chargers before signing on to back up Wilson in 2020.
“I’ve been playing this game long enough to know that just when you think it’s not going to happen is when it does, so just preparing every single time,” Smith said. “It is gut-wrenching sometimes. Sometimes I fight back tears before the games, like, ‘Man, I wish I could be out there.’ Reality is you got to prepare and you got to keep preparing. That is something that I pride myself on is being prepared and always being ready. And that’s mentally, physically, and anything else.”
Seattle’s upcoming schedule
Smith will need to step in as Wilson recovers, and he’ll have to face a daunting slate of opposing defenses. The Seahawks will play the Steelers and Saints over the next two weeks before getting a breather against the Jaguars in Week 8 and a bye in Week 9.
If Wilson does end up missing six weeks, he would also be sidelined for Seattle’s Week 10 matchup against the Packers and Week 11 game against the Cardinals. Those two contests represent critical NFC matchups and could have playoff implications, especially if Smith is able to keep the Seahawks above water.
Wilson, of course, is one of the NFL’s iron men. He had started 149 straight games, tied with Cameron Jordan for the second-longest streak among active players. Until last night, Wilson had only missed two snaps in his 10-year career.