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Geno Smith May Suffer From Insane Delusions

Pro Bowl QB?

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, Geno Smith told Newsday that he has shown "flashes of a Pro Bowl QB". After fighting the immediate urge to burst out in insane laughter, I decided to take a look at how many "flashes" of a Pro Bowl QB he has actually shown.

For this article, I will look at the Pro Bowl QBs from last year and see what their average game was. Then I will look at Geno's production over the last 2 years throughout a game to see how many times he beat or met the average "Pro Bowl QB".

The 6 Pro Bowl QBs last year were Cam Newton, Nick Foles, Andrew Luck, Drew Brees, Alex Smith, and Philip Rivers. There were 3 other QBs (Russell Wilson, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady) who were selected but did not go due to injury and/or Super Bowl appearance. For analysis purposes, all 9 QBs have been included. See the chart below based on their 2013 Pro Bowl seasons:

Completions/game Total Yds/game Total TDs/game INTs/game YPA Completion % Passer Rating
Peyton Manning 28.125 340.4 3.5 0.625 8.3 68.6 115.1
Tom Brady 23.75 272.5 1.5625 0.6875 6.9 60.5 87.3
Russell Wilson 16.0625 243.5 1.6875 0.5625 8.2 63.1 101.2
Cam Newton 18.25 247.8 1.875 0.8125 7.1 61.7 88.8
Drew Brees 27.875 325.9 2.625 0.75 7.9 68.6 104.7
Philip Rivers 23.625 284.4 2 0.6875 8.2 69.5 105.5
Nick Foles* 18.18 259.3 2.5 0.0139 9.1 64.0 119.2
Andrew Luck 21.4375 262.4 1.6875 0.5625 6.7 60.2 87
Alex Smith 20.533 249.6 1.6 0.4667 6.5 60.6 89.1
Average "Pro Bowl" QB 22 276.2 2.12 0.574 7.6 64.3 99.2
Geno Smith Career 15.3 199.5 1 1.22 6.6 56.6


*Nick Foles played in 13 games, but since one of his "games played" was 1 incomplete pass against the Chargers before Vick could finish the game, so I counted Nick Foles totals for 12 games.

As you can clearly see, Geno is far below a "Pro Bowl" QB across the board. He's really not all that close to the average player, which includes the elites and the fringe Pro Bowl players. But Geno admits that the consistency isn't there, hence "flashes". But how many games has Geno had where he has shown himself to be a "Pro Bowl" QB? The chart below shows how many times in Geno's 27 career games he met the average Pro Bowl QB in each of the 7 stats. To explain, where the chart says "one criterion", it means Geno Smith met or exceeded the Pro Bowl QB average in one stat (i.e. Geno had more than 276 yards, OR had a completion percentage better than 64.3, OR had a passer rating at or above 99.2). Where it says 2 criteria, it means Geno met or exceeded the Pro Bowl QB average in two stats (i.e. Geno had 22 or more completions AND had 277 total yards). And so on and so forth.

1 criterion 2 criteria 3 criteria 4 criteria 5 criteria 6 criteria all criteria
Games 15 9 4 2 1 0 0

Perhaps the most telling indictment of Geno is that in 7 separate statistical categories, Geno Smith did not exceed a single one of the average Pro Bowler in 12 of his 27 games. Meaning in 44% of his games, Geno did not exceed 22 completions; did not have a 7.6 YPA; did not have 3 touchdowns; did not have no interceptions; did not complete 64.3% of his passes; did not have 277 total yards; and did not have a 99.2 or better passer rating. Did not hit a single one of these benchmarks. When tasked with hitting multiple bench marks, his numbers cut in half at every step. He hit 3 of the aforementioned bench marks in a game just 4 times: Week 3 of 2013 vs. Buffalo, Week 4 of 2013 vs. Tennessee, Week 5 of 2013 vs. Atlanta, and Week 1 of 2014 vs. Oakland. He hit the most benchmarks in that game against Atlanta, where he had everything the average Pro Bowler did except for the completions and yardage. The other game where he hit 4 was the game against Tennessee where he had the requisite completions, yardage, completion percentage, and YPA but fell short on the yards, TDs, and had 2 INTs.

(It was tough to come up with a methodology for interceptions, as the only way to exceed the benchmark for interceptions is to not throw one; however, I looked at 2 game stretches where Geno had one INT in the 2 games (roughly, a half INT a game rate), and only 3 such instances exist: 2013 Weeks 15-16, where Geno had 1 INT in Week 15 and 0 in Week 16; 2014 Weeks 6-7 where Geno had 1 INT in Week 6 and 0 in Week 7; and 2014 Week 12-13 where Geno had 0 INT in Week 12 and 1 INT in Week 13. Geno also had a 2 game stretch at the end of 2013 where Geno did not throw an INT in the final 2 games, however both have been reflected on the chart. These 3 instances are not reflected on the chart but are something to consider. I also considered 2 game stretches where Geno had 5 TDs, essentially a 2.5 TD pace, but no such instances exist.)

But of course, you don't have to make the Pro Bowl by being the average; you can be a Pro Bowler by simply being better than the alternates. The following chart shows the lowest number in each of the stat category, along with how often Geno met or exceeded. The second chart will show how many games in which Geno hit one or multiples of these bench marks, similar to above.

Completions/game Total yards/game Total TDs/game INTs/game YPA Completion % Passer Rating
Lowest Average 16.1 (R. Wilson) 243.5 (R. Wilson) 1.5625 (T. Brady) 0.8125 (C. Newton) 6.5 (A. Smith) 60.2 (A. Luck) 87 (A. Luck)
Games Geno met or surpassed (out of 27) 17 (includes games with 16 completions) 10 7 6 12 10 8

1 criterion 2 criteria 3 criteria 4 criteria 5 criteria 6 criteria all criteria
Games 19 16 13 13 7 2 0

Geno does come out looking a little better. He hit at least one benchmark here in 19 of his 27 career games, which basically excludes just his truly awful games like the 3 game post-bye stretch his rookie year, and his games this year vs SD, Buffalo, and Miami. There were 13 games, roughly half, where he managed to hit at least 4 of the benchmarks. He has 2 games where he hit 6 of the 7, both in his rookie year: his Week 5 standout performance against Atlanta and Week 13 against Oakland; only failing to hit the yardage in Atlanta and failing to avoid an INT in Oakland. The 7 games where Geno hit five of seven were as follows:


Week 3 vs Buffalo
Week 5 @ Atlanta
Week 14 vs Oakland
Week 16 vs Cleveland


Week 1 vs Oakland
Week 7 vs New England
Week 14 @ Minnesota

I think it's safe to say that these 7 games are the ones that most resemble "Pro Bowl" performance at the fringe Pro Bowl level.

Has Geno shown flashes of a Pro Bowl QB? Well, from my calculations, Geno has had 7 out of 27 career games (26%) where he played at a fringe Pro Bowl level, and maybe 2 out of 27 where he played at a slam dunk Pro Bowl level. Has Geno shown flashes? Perhaps it depends on your definition of the word "flashes". The reality is that Geno playing at a "Pro Bowl" level has been, at best, a fleeting proposition. And true brilliance from Geno is a needle in a haystack. Geno has only 7 games with multiple touchdowns; 8 games with a passer rating better than 85; 10 games where he surpassed 250 total yards; 10 games with a better than 7.0 YPA; and 6 games where he didn't throw an interception. Geno may in fact suffer from insane delusions if he believes he has shown the ability to play at a Pro Bowl level.